With great brutality, policemen are depicted thrashing two people, presumably demonstrators. A boot on the right side of the painting points to a maltreated man. In the diction of East German art history, the painting represents a time when “the terror of social fringe groups escalated increasingly, much like the brutality of the state police in capitalist countries”. Nowadays, the painting is no longer a political instrument, having instead become a generally valid symbol. At the same time, it remains a call for humanity and questions how free art in the GDR actually was.
In 2008, the Frankfurt couple Fritz Mayer and his wife, Waltraud, presented to the Städel's Department of Contemporary Art a number of important works from their private collection by painters from the GDR, including Wolfgang Mattheuer, Werner Tübke and Arno Rink - thus filling a considerable gap in the museum's collection. The donation was accompanied by an outstandingly generous contribution towards the expansion of the Städel, and by the announcement that they would continue to support the Städelscher Museums-Verein in the future.