Nazi Looting Documentation

In Dallas this week I accepted two photo albums documenting artwork and furniture stolen by German troops in Paris.  The albums were created under Hermann Goering’s direction by Alfred Rosenberg who led the Nazi agency, Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) and served as pick lists for Adolph Hitler.  Hitler intended to create a museum in Austria.

39 of the albums were discovered in May 1945 at Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany and served as evidence in the Nuremberg Trials.  The trial’s documentation is in the custody of the National Archives (www.archives.gov/research/holocaust).  The albums are meticulous records indicating where they were stolen—invaluable provenance documentation for restitution claims.

Through the work of Robert Edsel and the Monuments Men Foundation, four more albums have been discovered and added to the collection.  The albums were taken as souvenirs by American troops when they left Germany and discovered after the deaths of the soldiers.

The Monuments Men Foundation, recipient of the National Humanities Medal in November 2007, was established to carry on the mission of the original monuments men—museum directors, curators, art historians and educators, architects, artists, and librarians who volunteered “to protect the great cultural treasures of western civilization from the destruction of war and theft by Adolph Hitler and the Nazis.”  Robert Edsel’s tireless efforts have not only celebrated the accomplishments of the original group but kept the story alive, resulting in the discovery of the four latest additions.

Robert Edsel’s book, The Monuments Men:  Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History (Center Street, 2009) is being adapted for film by George Clooney who is currently writing the screenplay and which he will both direct and star.  We surmise that nearly 100 albums were created and expect that the Clooney film will reach a wide audience resulting in more discoveries.

 

Further reading:

“Photo albums showing art work, furniture stolen by Nazis during WWII unveiled in Dallas”
Washington Post. March 28, 2012:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/photo-albums-showing-art-work-furniture-stolen-by-nazis-during-wwii-unveiled-in-dallas/2012/03/28/gIQAsWjhgS_story.html

 

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