March 26th, 2007 | 5:55 pm

Bruno Lohse, art historian and agent to Hermann Goering, died in Munich on March 21st, age 95. Lohse was one of only a few of the many art agents and dealers to Hitler and the Nazis who was tried, convicted and punished after the war for his role as Deputy Chief of ERR operations in Paris (Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg). The ERR was the official art looting organization of the Nazis that so thoroughly plundered anything of value, initially focused on Jewish owned art collections, throughout Europe during World War II.

Numerous photos and details of the ERR theft operation are included in Rescuing Da Vinci.

To quote from a report prepared by Alfred Rosenberg dated November 4th, 1943, which was later presented as evidence at the Nuremberg Trials, “52,828 Jewish lodgings were seized and sealed in favor of the bombed-out victims [i.e., homeless Germans]. Including special orders, furniture has been removed from 47,569 dwellings for shipment to the bombed cities…69,619 Jewish lodgings were looted, that the furniture occupied over 1 million cubic meters, and that it took 26,984 freight cars, that is 674 trains, to remove it.”

Lohse was an art dealer in Berlin from 1936-1939. He became a member of the Nazi Party in 1937, and was assigned to the ERR in February, 1941. He frequently accompanied Reichsmarschall HermannGoering on many visits to the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris, the location used by the ERR to gather artworks looted from homes throughout Paris and the vicinity. In fact, he often organized the many private exhibitions of these stolen artworks in anticipation of these visits during which Goering would select works of art he wanted for his collection. Goering would also choose works that had to be offered to Hitler for his planned Fuhrer Museum in Linz.

In February, 1945, Lohse was ordered to go to the Castle of Neuschwanstein in southern Bavaria to protect the ERR inventory records–card catalogues, photographic records, and the like–which documented the systematic theft operation. Concerned that these records might fall into the hands of Red Army troops, Lohse was directed by his boss, Robert Scholz, to preserve these records and turn them over to American troops in the event they occupied the area. In fact, these records were eventually confiscated by the Monuments Men along with the art and other stolen treasures that filled the Neuschwanstein repository. They may now be found at the National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland, where they are frequently used by researchers still attempting to track down missing works of art.

Lohse served several years in a French prison for his role in the ERR theft operation. Upon his release, he, like so many other former Nazi art dealers, rebuilt his career and resumed dealing. An outstanding account of the activities of Lohse and other Nazi art dealers may be found in the fine work of friend and colleague Jonathan Petropoulos entitled, The Faustian Bargain. His book provides a stunning account of the web of Nazi dealers and the relative ease with which so many of these figures returned to their careers after the war.


  1. emily says:

    how did lohse manage to live to the age of 95 with several priceless paintings stored in a vault under his name?
    did somebody in the EER not notice?
    if he was such a prominant figure in the EER how was he not more thoroughly investigated for the chance of possessing so many paintings?

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