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Art looting, destruction, and protection during World War II   Tags: art, history, world war ii  

Last Updated: Feb 27, 2014 URL: Print Guide

Monuments Men Print Page

Monuments Men Film

  • The Monuments Men
    The film "The Monuments Men" is inspired by a group of approximately 345 men and women from thirteen nations, most of whom volunteered for the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) program that the Allied armies established during World War II. Many had expertise as museum directors, curators, art historians, artists, architects, and educators. Their job description was simple: to protect cultural treasures from war damage, and to find and return works of art and other items of cultural importance that had been stolen or hidden. From director George Clooney, the film stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman,Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett. The film will be released February 7, 2014 in theaters.

Other Internet Resources

Monuments Men Foundation

  • Monuments Men Foundation
    Robert Edsel created the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art in 2007. The foundation focuses on honoring and recording the wartime experiences of the Monuments Men. Another important goal is the continued recovery of art stolen during World War II.

    The site provides access to historical photographs, documents, and videos, biographical information on MFAA personnel, as well as a bibliography on art looting and the protection of monuments during World War II.

Archives of American Art Resources

The Archives of American Art holds the personal archives of George Leslie Stout, James J. Rorimer, Walker Hancock, Thomas Carr Howe, S. Lane Faison, Walter Horn, and Otto Wittman.  In addition to their documents, it has also conducted interviews with them and posted them online as podcasts. 

The Lawrence Fleischman Gallery has documents and photographs on display from February 7 to April 20, 2014, for the Monuments Men: On the Frontline to Save Europe's Art, 1942–1946 exhibit. 

See the associated website for documents, podcasts and more.

The Monuments Men in Their Own Words

  • Experiences of a Monuments Officer in Germany
    Hancock, Walker. “Experiences of a Monuments Officer in Germany” in College Art Journal. Vol. 5, no. 4 (May 1946), p.271-311.
  • Florentine art under fire
    Hartt, Frederick. Florentine art under fire. Princeton, Princeton Univ. Press, 1949.

    Hartt describes the history of the MFAA in Italy in his first hand account. He also describes his role as an MFAA officer, especially in Florence.
  • Repatriation of art from the collecting point in Munich after World War II : background and beginnings, with reference especially to the Netherlands
    Smyth, Craig Hugh. Repatriation of art from the collecting point in Munich after World War II: background and beginnings, with reference especially to the Netherlands. Maarssen, The Hague : G. Schwartz/SDU ; Montclair, NJ : Abner Schram, 1988.

    Smyth was responsible for the administration of the Munich Central Collecting Point after World War II. He describes the process by which works were cataloged by their countries of origin. The works were then examined by conservators and prepared for return to their homes. Also included in the appendix are letters, reports, and memos describing the work that was done.
  • The Safekeepers
    Farmer, Walter. The safekeepers: a memoir of the arts at the end of World War II. Berlin ; New York : Walter de Gruyter, 2000.

    Farmer was the first director of the Wiesbaden Collecting Point, which was the temporary home of objects from Berlin museums, libraries, and archives. He wrote the Wiesbaden Manifesto to protest the plan by the US military to send 202 paintings from Berlin museums to the US indefinitely. He and his fellow MFAA co-signers were successful and the paintings were returned to Germany in 1948.
  • Salt mines and castles; the discovery and restitution of looted European art
    Howe, Thomas Carr. Salt mines and castles: the discovery and restitution of looted European art. Indianapolis, New York, The Bobbs-Merrill Company [1946].

    Howe recounts his experiences as a member of MFAA. He was involved in the recovery of works from the Altausse salt mines and the Herman Göring collection.
  • Survival: the salvage and protection of art in war
    Rorimer, James Joseph. Survival: the salvage and protection of art in war. New York, Abelard Press, [1950].

    This is James Rorimer’s first hand account of the Roberts Commission and the MFAA during World War II. It also is a memoir of his own war experience.
  • The War and Art Treasures in Germany
    Hammond, Mason. “The War and Art Treasures in Germany” in College Art Journal. Vol. 5, no. 3 (March 1946), p. 205-218.

Monuments Man: Kenneth C. Lindsay

  • Art History’s “Monument’s Man,” Kenneth C. Lindsay
    UW-Madison Department of Art History announcements page.
  • Official art seizure under the military cloak
    Lindsay, Kenneth. "Official art seizure under the military cloak", in Art, Antiquity, and Law, Vol. 3, no. 2 (1998), p. 119-136. No full text is available online.
  • The Hungarian Crown
    Lindsay, Kenneth C. The Hungarian Crown. Typescript. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Wisconsin--Madison, 1947.
  • Rape of Europa documentary
    In 2007, Lindsay was featured in “The Rape of Europa,” a documentary film, which outlines the systematic theft, deliberate destruction and salvaging of works of art and monuments in the wake of the Nazi occupation of Europe. In the film, he describes uncrating the bust of Nefertiti: “It was so heavy. I almost broke my back lifting her out. And there was that face, staring up at me. What a woman. She is so elegant.”

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