Robert Edsel's Blog

Blog entries for the ‘Identifying Unknown Soldiers in Our Photos’ Category


January 5th, 2010 | 4:41 pm


Today, The Monuments Men Year-End Newsletter for 2009 was released to the general public. Inside this newsletter, you can read about the various creative content we have produce, our ongoing engagement with the public through the media to bring much need attention to the Monuments Men, the various honors bestowed upon the Monuments Men Foundation, and all the incredible memories bringing this story to life.  Many thanks to all that have worked on this project through the years.

Please take a minute to read the The Monuments Men Year-End Newsletter.

If you would like to sign up for future newsletters, please click here (fill out form on the right side to submit).

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November 10th, 2009 | 6:03 pm

L to R: Mary Regan Quessenbery, Mary Churchill and Unknown

Left to Right: Mary Regan Quessenberry, Mary Churchill and Unknown

Today the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal, announced they have identified a second living female member of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section (“MFAA”), or “Monuments Men” as they were more commonly known: Mary Regan Quessenberry of Boston, Massachusetts.

The Monuments Men were a group of 345 men and women from thirteen nations, many of whom were museum directors, curators, artists and architects, who together worked to protect monuments and other cultural items from the destruction of World War II. In the last year of the war they tracked, located and ultimately returned more than five million artistic and cultural treasures stolen by Hitler and the Nazis.

Regarding this important occasion, Robert M. Edsel, author of The Monuments Men, and President of The Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art stated, “This news makes Veterans Day even more special for the Monuments Men Foundation. The men and women who collectively comprised the Monuments Men set the standard for the protection of cultural treasures during armed conflict. Although we hope our ongoing research efforts identify other living Monuments Men and women, today we know of only 10, including Mary Regan Quessenberry, who played an important role in the post-war work of the Monuments Men, assisting with the efforts to return millions of works of art to the countries from which these treasures had been stolen. This significant occasion underscores the importance and urgency of our research to recognize the contribution and preserve the legacy of these remarkable men and women who saved so much of our cultural heritage during World War II.”

Mary Regan Quessenbery and Robert M Edsel

Mary Regan Quessenberry and Robert M. Edsel

After watching an interview with Robert Edsel on BBC regarding his new book, The Monuments Men, Ms. Quessenberry’s niece contacted the Monuments Men Foundation about her aunt’s role as a Monuments officer. Mr. Edsel immediately traveled to Boston to meet with Mary, and presented her with a flag of the United States which had flown over the United States Capitol in honor of the Monuments Men, as well as a gold leaf copy of the Congressional Resolution that was passed in both the House and the Senate recognizing for the first time in the United States the heroic efforts of the members of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section.

Born in Boston on October 10, 1915, Mary Regan attended Radcliffe College and later received a master’s degree in Fine Art from Harvard, where her professors included Monuments Men Paul Sachs, Langdon Warner, and Mason Hammond, all key figures in Mr. Edsel’s new book, The Monuments Men. The United States entered World War II in December 1941. By July 1942 Mary had given up her job as a high school art teacher and was in uniform serving with the WAAC (Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps). Over 400,000 women applied to be part of the first group of women to serve in the US military; only 450 were chosen. She would later become a recruiter for WAC (Women’s Army Corps), where one of the highlights was meeting the Churchill family when they visited Boston. Mary was sent overseas in 1943. Prior to becoming a Monuments officer, she trained with the U.S. Army 8th Air Force under General Doolittle; she was also sent to the Royal Air Force base at Medmenham as part of the Central Interpretation Unit and later, Mary received orders to report to General Carl Spaatz. At that time he commanded the 8th, 9th, and 15th Army Air Corps and led the strategic bombing campaign against Germany reporting directly to General Eisenhower. Mary became “company commander of the 550 WACs who ran Spaatz Headquarters.” For her service as company commander, Mary received a Bronze Star.

Following the Allied victory, Mary read in Stars and Stripes that officers with an art history background were needed as Monuments Men. Despite having more than enough points to return home, Mary traveled to Berlin to volunteer for service with the Monuments Men. As a Monuments officer stationed in Berlin, Mary traveled to the Munich Collecting Point, Wiesbaden Collecting Point, various repositories, and badly damaged cities. She worked with fellow Monuments Men Bancel LaFarge, Rose Valland, Charles Kuhn, Calvin Hathaway and others to restitute stolen works of art to their rightful owners. She served as a Monuments officer until 1948, when she retired as a Major after an extraordinary and accomplished military career.

Mary returned home to the United States and taught humanities at the University of Florida, and married her husband Tim Quessenberry in 1965. Mary Regan Quessenberry currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

About the Monuments Men Foundation


The Monuments Men Foundation was created to raise public awareness of the 345 or so men and women from thirteen nations, many of whom were museum directors, curators, and educators, who protected monuments and other cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II. By 1945, these heroes of civilization tracked, located and later returned more than 5 million artistic and cultural items stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. The Foundation intends for their rich legacy to serve as a beacon for the preservation of such treasures in future armed conflict and to finish the task of locating and returning some of the hundreds of thousands of stolen and missing works of art and documents to the victims of the greatest theft in history. The Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art was one of ten recipients of the 2007 National Humanities Medal, the highest honor given for excellence in the Humanities field.

For more information about the Monuments Men Foundation, please visit

To speak with Robert Edsel or for further details, Please Contact:
Christy Fox
Telephone: 646-246-3743

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November 24th, 2008 | 3:01 pm

Tonight PBS will broadcast to the nation our documentary film, The Rape of Europa. This wonderful film will be seen by millions of people unfamiliar with the subject of Hitler and the Nazis’ premeditated looting of Europe and their use of art as a weapon of propaganda to promote their racial theories. Making any film is a challenge. Making a great film, one good enough that PBS would allocate such a prominent slot for its airing during “sweeps” week, is a rare achievement which speaks to the importance of the subject matter. While this is a significant milestone, it is only the first of several that will follow.

We are very excited about providing that PBS audience, and of course people everywhere, the opportunity to learn more about this important story…about the heroes who saved so much of the art, the Monuments Men…about the behind the scenes stories we filmed…about the lessons learned, and those that were ignored…about how the events of World War II should have prepared us for the events that unfolded after the looting of the Iraq National Museum in 2003. These stories couldn’t be told in just two hours and for that reason, and for that reason we created The Rape of Europa Collector’s Edition which contains almost 7 additional hours of interviews, archival footage, and in-depth analysis of key events that were only briefly covered in the two hour film. One example of this extended content is our interview with Corine Wegener, a retired Army major who served in Iraq working to repair the damage to not only their national museum, but our country’s image. This unique DVD is only available on Amazon and is being offered at a special introductory price for a limited time. You can link to order that DVD by clicking on

Of far greater importance is our educational program which is named The Greatest Theft in History Educational Program! This Educational Program is innovative and comprehensive providing a resource not currently available to educators and students. It provides on-line lesson plans customized for classroom instruction by our nationally acclaimed group of educators under the supervision of our Educational Advisory Board members. (To see the names of our team of educators and Educational Advisory Board and their CV’s, please click on the following links: and This program will enable teachers to concentrate their time on teaching, not on looking for materials to teach. By making clips from our Educational DVD and other material we will be continually adding to the website along with other unique features, we have constructed a “one-stop does all” destination for anyone interested in learning more about the protection of cultural resources during armed conflict, the events of World War II and how critical a factor art was to Hitler and the Nazis’ plans, and of course the heroes of the story, the Monuments Men. Our hours of extended interviews and other materials will allow students and interested parties of all ages to participate in the writing of this final chapter to World War II. The students of today will be the ones assisting us in solving the remaining riddles and mysteries of this amazing chapter of the war including developing clues as to the whereabouts of so much of the still missing art and other cultural treasures stolen during the war.

We have constructed this Educational Program with affordability in mind by pricing the entire program at $35/ program which includes the almost 9 hour Educational DVD and access to the custom designed website which contains lesson plans and other teaching resources making it accessible for people of all ages and interests. Already the responses from teachers and other organizations has been gratifying and rewarding…but it is just the beginning.

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