As Indiana developed his Hartley Elegy series he began to increasingly interweave both his own life and additional historical references into the paintings. KvF III, the third Elegy, incorporates Kennedy’s well-known 1963 proclamation “Ich bin ein Berliner,” made in front of the Berlin Wall, alongside the designation “Der Amerikanische Maler.” The latter references Hartley’s status as an American painter in Berlin, but can also be applied to Indiana himself, the self proclaimed “American painter of signs.” By including the reference to Kennedy Indiana establishes the painting as a tribute to two men, Hartley and Kennedy (whose election he celebrated in his painting Electi). He also evokes Berlin at two different historical periods, during World War I and in a post World War II divided Germany. Indiana has noted that his creation of the Hartley Elegies coincides with the fall of the Berlin Wall, further expanding the historical context of the works.
KvF III quotes much of the visual vocabulary found throughout Hartley’s War Motif series: the Iron Cross that von Freyburg was awarded shortly before his death; the stylized letter E, likely referencing Queen Elisabeth of Greece, the patroness of the third regiment of the grand-grenadiers, in which Hartley’s close friend and von Freyburg’s cousin Arnold Rönnebeck served; and the numeral 4, representing von Freyburg’s regiment, the 4th Regiment of the Imperial Guards. Indiana again links Hartley and von Freyburg, here through four epaulets at the bottom of the central ring. They contain the initials of the two men and the age of each man at his death, 66 for Hartley and 24 for von Freyburg. As with second Elegy, KvF III isolates specific colors from the original color scheme, in this instance red, yellow, and black, the colors of the German flag.