The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
Robert M. Edsel, Bret Witter
At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: "degenerate" works he despised.
In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.
Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world's great art from the Nazis.
Horror. It was in the air he breathed, the German soil over which he walked. In his mind, he could see the marks in the dirt where the survivors had been dragged away. Posey had seen men dying before his eyes from the effects of their treatment. They were so starved they couldn’t digest the meat the American soldiers gave them to eat. They simply collapsed, holding their stomachs in pain. Just to hear about it secondhand was to make a grown man want to clutch his own stomach and fall to the.
And our ground troops are taking care of the rest. Your job, as far as I’m concerned, is to locate art looted from Western Allied countries. Third Army has come in for more than its share of publicity”—referring to Merkers, which was still making worldwide headlines—“and it’s time that Seventh Army had a salt mine or two of its own.” 1 Rorimer realized what Canby meant by complete destruction when he reached the outskirts of Heilbronn. Elements of VI Corps, Seventh Army, had arrived at the city.
Rorimer’s own words, however, may summarize his life best. When asked his formula for success, he replied, “A good start, a willingness—even eagerness—to work beyond the call of duty, a sense of fair play, and a recognition of opportunities before and when they arrive. In other words, it is important to find a course and steer it.” 31 He might as well have been describing the MFAA and his role within it. By the summer of 1946, only two of the original group of Monuments Men remained on the.
Work was “exclusively in French interest,” 10 to complaints that he was too Catholic. The real problem was that Wolff-Metternich was not the man they wanted him to be. The Kunstschutz was supposed to provide a veneer of legality. They wanted a man who would bend the rules for the benefits of the Fatherland, but Count Wolff-Metternich would not. In the end, he was a “lost soul in the wasp nest of the Hitlerian gang.” 11 Soon after, Jaujard’s violent denunciation of the theft of the Ghent.
“Careful,” he hissed at the hapless German soldiers who were banging paintings together and shoving them into crates without packing material. There was panic in their eyes, their desire to flee. What had become of the vaunted German discipline? Rose Valland remembered wanting to approach him, to say something to break him down. But the colonel was heavily guarded by men with machine guns. “Dommage,” she had thought. 5 A pity. Then he had glanced at her, and she had seen anger edged with menace.