ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MUNICH COLLECTING POINT

June 17th, 2010 | 10:55 am

Monuments Officer at the Munich Collecting Point (Craig Hugh Smyth second from the left). Photo Courtesy of NARA.

In June 1945, Monuments Man Craig Hugh Smyth was charged with opening and running the Munich Collecting Point, to be housed in the former Führerbau (Hitler’s offices) and Verwaltungsbau (Nazi Party Headquarters). Collecting Points were necessary to house and sort the hundreds of thousands of works of art being found by Monuments Men in repositories across Germany, and the Central Collecting Point in Munich was designated to primarily hold ERR loot, Hitler and Goering’s collections, and other works found in the Altaussee salt mine.

Munich Collecting Point before repairs were made in June 1945. Photo Courtesy of NARA.

Smyth was given less than two weeks to convert the severely damaged buildings into a suitable home for a world-class art collection. Explosives had to be removed, windows, roofs, and electric lines repaired, underground passages closed off, and a trustworthy and knowledgeable staff had to be assembled.  Monuments Man George Stout came to Munich to assist in outlining proper unloading and art handling procedures.

Exterior of the Munich Collecting Point. Photo Courtesy of NARA.

On June 17, 1945, the first load of artworks arrived in Munich from Altaussee. As each object was unloaded, it was assigned an arrival number and collecting point card, then was stored in the proper room. Eventually racks were built to safely hold all of the paintings, a library was created, and a photography studio established, all to assist with restitutions. In the six years that followed, the Monuments Men would restitute 5 million cultural items from the collecting points. Today the legacy of the Monuments Men who worked at the Munich Collecting Point lives on, as the MCP cards are still frequently used in provenance research and restitution cases.

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