Robert Edsel's Blog

Blog entries for the ‘Monuments Men Book’ Category

The Field Report: Week of June 20, 2014

January 13th, 2014 | 7:00 pm

Here are few topics that prompted discussion in the office this past week:

1.) Infrared imagery shows Picasso’s The Blue Room hides a secret painting (The Guardian)

2.) The ruins of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh are on the long list of things being affected by the terror group ISIS (Liberty Voice)

3.) Happy Birthday Mona Lisa! You don’t look a day over 500. (The Huffington Post)

4.) An 89-year-old retiree and former Nazi guard has been arrested for what he says was an ‘involuntary’ post at Auschwitz (New York Times)

5.) Eccentric heiress Huguette Clark’s untouched treasures head for the auction block (NPR)

6.) The Baptistery of San Giovanni may show up on this week’s “Best Dressed List” thanks to world-renowned designer Emilio Pucci (Luxury Daily)

*…and a few things you may have missed:

7.) Take a look at the paintings behind one of the most iconic Monuments Men photographs, which can also be seen on the cover of Robert M. Edsel’s The Monuments Men.

8.) This great photo of the Monuments Men in action! LIFE’s William Vandivert in the spring 1945, shows American soldiers loading recovered paintings and sculptures — reportedly stolen by Hermann Goering himself — into the back of a truck, in hopes that they might be returned to their rightful owners. (TIME)

9.) The Italian Club of Dallas, Texas will host a presentation on the Monuments Men next Monday, June 23, 2014. Special guests include the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art‘s Director of Development Ashley Bennett Jones and Senior Researcher Elizabeth Hudson. Event details can be seen here and tickets may be purchased here.

View last week’s Field Report here!

 

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The Met Meeting

December 20th, 2013 | 12:01 am

“Now, in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the worst attack ever on U.S. soil, the tension had turned into an almost desperate need to act. An air raid on a major American city seemed likely; an invasion by Japan or Germany, or even both, not out of the question. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Japanese galleries were closed for fear of attacks by angry mobs. At the Walters Gallery in Baltimore, small gold and jeweled items were removed from the display cases so as not to tempt firemen with axes who might enter for an emergency. In New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art was closing at dusk for fear of visitors running into things or stealing pictures in a blackout. Every night, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was moving paintings to a sandbagged area, then rehanging them in the morning. The Frick Collection was blacking its windows and skylights so that enemy bombers couldn’t spot it in the middle of Manhattan.” – The Monuments Men

On December 20-21, 1941, museum leaders from across the country met at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to discuss plans to protect their collections.

At the meeting, Paul Sachs issued a resolution, stating:

“If, in time of peace, our museums and art galleries are important to the community, in time of war they are doubly valuable. For then, when the petty and the trivial fall way and we are face to face with final and lasting values, we… must summon to our defense all our intellectual and spiritual resources. We must guard jealously all we have inherited from a long past, all we are capable of creating in a trying present, and all we are determined to preserve in a foreseeable future. Art is the imperishable and dynamic expression of these aims. It is, and always has been, the visible evidence of the activity of free minds.”

In hindsight, we know that a further attack on American soil never occurred. However, this meeting had lasting effects: it served as the birthplace of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section. After the Met meeting, Monuments Man George Stout and Harvard Professor Paul Sachs continued to reach out to museum leaders to develop a plan of action for when the Allies would inevitably arrive in Europe, for it had become obvious that it was the cultural treasures of Europe, not America, that would need protection. The Monuments Men were the embodiment the eloquent words Sachs spoke in December 1941.

To learn more about this historic event, read The Monuments Men.  __________________________________________________________________________

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April 12, 1945: A Day of Momentous Implications

April 12th, 2013 | 5:52 am

Having heard about the extraordinary discovery of most all of Nazi Germany’s gold reserves and paper currency, along with its vast cultural wealth from Berlin’s greatest museums and libraries, in a salt mine in Merkers, Germany, Generals Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley left SHAEF headquarters in Rheims, France and made a visit to see it firsthand.  As the Monuments Men, led by George Stout, were urgently crating the works of art for removal from the mine, the generals descended in a rickety elevator manned by a lone German operator.

Left to Right: Generals Bradley, Patton, and Eisenhower (Photo Courtesy of National Archives)

Their sense of disconnection was palpable:  billions of dollars (in today’s currency) of gold bars and bagged coins sat stacked in one chamber adjacent to some of the world’s greatest works of art. Chests filled with gold fillings pulled from the mouths of murdered victims of the Nazi genocide sat idle, not yet smelted into bars to sit atop the Reichsbank horde.  Suitcases of silverware, another reminder of property stolen along with the lives of the owners, lined several walls.

 

General Eisenhower at Ohrdruf Concentration Camp (Photo Courtesy of National Archives)

Later that afternoon, the generals visited Ohrdruf, the first Nazi work camp liberated by American forces. Strewn before them were the corpses of the dead and emaciated figures of those near death.  General Patton, old “Blood and Guts”, had to lean against the side of one of the bunkhouse sheds as he was sick to his stomach from the horrors and stench of what he was witnessing.

 

President Franklin Roosevelt attending Yalta Conference in February 1945, less than 2 months before he died. (Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

After dinner, as the generals returned to their respective tents, General Patton overheard on the BBC the announcement of President Roosevelt’s death earlier that day.  At age 63, 12 years into his presidency, having led the nation through its most perilous fiscal crisis and a world war, Roosevelt was gone. He did not live to see the fruits of his leadership – victory – which would follow 26 days later in Europe, and 125 days later in Japan.

April 12, 1945:  a day that had momentous implications for our nation, the world, and the Monuments Men.

 

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Daniel Craig Joins George Clooney’s Monuments Men; Dujardin, Murray, and Blanchett Confirmed to Co-Star

November 2nd, 2012 | 4:24 pm

George Clooney has lined up an incredible cast for his next film, Monuments Men. As we previously reported, the story centers on a group of art experts selected by the U.S. Government to chase down the stolen art of Europe during World War II. Aside from the terrific premise, Clooney, who co-wrote the film with partner Grant Heslov, will star alongside a cast that includes Daniel CraigJean Dujardin, Bill Murray, and Cate Blanchett. Dujardin, Murray, and Blanchett had previously been mentioned in connection with the film, and Craig is a strong addition along with other new cast members John Goodman, Bob Balaban, and Downton Abbey‘sHugh Bonneville.

According to Deadline, filming is set to begin on March 1st, and Alexandre Desplat will be handling the score. The rest of the crew from Argowill be on board as well, because this movie wasn’t sounding awesome enough.
Here’s the synopsis for the source material, Robert M. Edsel‘s non-fiction novel The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
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. [Amazon]

As reported by Matt Goldberg on Collider.com:http://collider.com/daniel-craig-george-clooney-monuments-men/206982/

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The Monuments Men Foundation Celebrates Five Years Honoring the Heroes

June 29th, 2012 | 12:13 pm

George Clooney, Robert Edsel, and Grant Heslov

This summer marks the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, an organization founded to preserve the historic legacy of the men and women who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section during World War II. The announcement of this organization took place on June 6, 2007, the 63rd anniversary of the D-Day landings, at the United States Senate on the occasion of Resolutions unanimously passed by both Houses of Congress that for the first time honored the service of these heroes of civilization: the Monuments Men. Four Monuments officers joined us for that special occasion and represented the other 345 officers of thirteen nations who served this great cause.

Since that time, the Foundation has been honored in numerous ways including its receipt of the National Humanities Medal, our nation’s highest honor for work in the humanities field, presented by the President of the United States during a ceremony at the White House.  The small staff of the Monuments Men Foundation has worked tirelessly to identify those who served as Monuments officers; facilitating the recovery and restitution of important cultural items; working with museums and collectors to help them continue historical research of items in their collections; creating an educational program to teach about the work of the Monuments Men; and sharing this story to help raise public awareness about their important contributions during World War II. The publishing of my two books on the Monuments Men – Rescuing Da Vinci, and The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History – have reached readers in more than eighteen languages.

Click Here to Read More

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Hallowed Be Their Name

June 6th, 2012 | 11:46 am

(George Clooney, Robert Edsel and Grant Heslov)

June 6 is the sixty-eighth anniversary of the D-Day landings that marked the beginning of the Western Allied invasion of German-occupied northwestern Europe. About 160,000 Allied soldiers came ashore that day, almost half Americans, many braving a hailstorm of bullets, artillery, and mines. The blood stained beaches of Normandy, France served as a testament of their heroism.  9,387 American men, many just teenagers, are buried at the American Cemetery located on the once German-held ridge above Omaha Beach where they fell.  Those that survived would carry the memory of their fallen comrades with them into Germany as they liberated the people of Europe – and those in the death camps – from the tyranny of Hitler and Nazism.

By July 4, the Allies had put ashore more than one million soldiers including a forty-six year-old art restorer named George Stout, the man who more than any other developed the idea that lead to the creation of the Monuments Men.  This handful of cultural preservation officers worked alongside troops to protect churches, museums and other historic structures from the destruction of war, in particular by Allied forces.  Soon their efforts would concentrate on locating some of the millions of cultural objects – paintings, sculpture, church bells, library books, and religious objects – stolen by the Nazis.  In the course of their journey two Monuments officers would be killed during combat.  Their mission would survive the war’s end by almost six years.  By 1951, the Monuments Men had returned more than five million stolen objects to the countries from which they’d been taken.

(Monuments Men Bernard Taper, James Reeds, Harry Ettlinger, and Horace Apgar remembered for their efforts for saving Europe's art during World War II at the Congressional Resolution Ceremony on June 6, 2007)

Today is the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, an organization I founded to preserve the historic legacy of the men and women who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section during World War II.  The announcement of this organization took place at the United States Senate on the occasion of Resolutions unanimously passed by both Houses of Congress that for the first time honored the service of these heroes of civilization.  Four Monuments officers joined us for that special occasion and represented the other 345 officers of thirteen nations who served this great cause.

Since that time the Foundation has been honored in numerous ways including its receipt of the National Humanities Medal, our nation’s highest honor for work in the humanities, presented by the President of the United States at a ceremony in the White House.  The publishing of my two books on the Monuments Men – Rescuing Da Vinci, and The Monuments Men:  Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History – have reached readers in more than eighteen languages.

Many wonderful consequences that will further honor these heroes have since accrued.  My new book – Saving Italy – about the efforts of the Monuments Men in the cultural cradle of civilization, will be published next year.  Soon The National World War II Museum will construct a permanent exhibit about the Monuments Men as part of its Liberation Pavilion.  And work is underway by George Clooney and Grant Heslov on their film, based on my last book about the Monuments Men, which will reach a global audience.  These developments ensure that these heroes’ legacy will forever be known and honored.  Their service expands our understanding of the achievements of “The Greatest Generation.”  This day reminds all people who enjoy freedom, and the arts, of the debt we owe the men and women who struggled so mightily to defeat the greatest threat to civilization of the twentieth century.

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67th Anniversary of an Amazing Day in History: April 12,1945

April 12th, 2012 | 3:27 pm

Left to Right: Generals Bradley, Patton, and Eisenhower (Photo Courtesy of National Archives)

Having heard about the extraordinary discovery of most all of Nazi Germany’s gold reserves and paper currency, along with its vast cultural wealth from Berlin’s greatest museums and libraries, in a salt mine in Merkers, Germany, Generals Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley left SHAEF headquarters in Rheims, France and made a several day visit to see it firsthand. As the Monuments Men, led by George Stout, were urgently crating the works of art for removal from the mine, the generals descended in a rickety elevator manned by a lone German operator.

Their sense of disconnection was palpable: billions of dollars (in today’s currency) of gold bars and bagged coins sat stacked in one chamber adjacent to some of the world’s greatest works of art. Chests filled with gold fillings pulled from the mouths of murdered victims of the Nazi genocide sat idle, not yet smelted into bars to sit atop the Reichsbank horde. Suitcases of silverware, another reminder of property stolen along with the lives of the owners, lined several walls.

General Eisenhower at Ohrdruf Concentration Camp (Photo Courtesy of National Archives)

Later that afternoon, the generals visited Ohrdruf, the first Nazi work camp liberated by American forces. Strewn before them were the corpses of the dead and emancipated figures of those near death. General Patton, old “Blood and Guts”, had to lean against the side of one of the bunkhouse sheds as he was sick to his stomach from the horrors and stench of what he was witnessing.

President Franklin Roosevelt attending Yalta Conference in February 1945, less than 2 months before he died. (Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

After dinner, as the generals returned to their respective tents, General Patton overheard on the BBC the announcement of President Roosevelt’s death earlier that day. At age 63, 12 years into his presidency, having led the nation through its most perilous fiscal crisis and a world war, Roosevelt was gone. He did not live to see the fruits of his leadership – victory – which would follow 26 days later in Europe, and 125 days later in Japan.

April 12: a day that had momentous implications for our nation, the world, and the Monuments Men.

 

(For a more detailed account of this story, please read The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History).

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TRAVEL IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE MONUMENTS MEN!

February 7th, 2012 | 11:27 am

I am pleased to announce dates for a one-of-a kind trip we have designed in conjunction with The National World War II Museum. This September 14-23, we will be taking a small group on a unique experience: In the Footsteps of the Monuments Men.

(Monuments Men Harry Ettlinger and Monuments Men Foundation Founder and President Robert Edsel at National World War II Museum)

Monuments Man Harry Ettlinger will join me to help lead this 10 day trip during which we will visit the key locations in which the Monuments Men worked including some of the most dramatic moments of their wartime duty: discovery of Nazi treasure troves at the Castle of Neucshwanstein, and in the Alt Aussee salt mine, a repository uncovered by the Monuments Men that contained thousands of works of art destined for Hitler’s Führermuseum.

We will also visit the site of Hitler’s home in Berchtesgaden and the Eagle’s Nest where many of the albums of photographs of works of art stolen by the Nazis were located. The tour includes travel from Paris to the final destination in Munich, luxury accommodations and meals.

The National World War II Museum is committed to bringing the history of World War II to life, and has years of experience organizing such trips. We are very excited to be working with their team of experts and historians in making this the experience of a lifetime.

For more details about this tour, please visit:

http://www.ww2museumtours.org/monuments-men.html

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Monuments Men Newsletter – Bust of Isabella D’Este at the Kimbell Art Museum

October 26th, 2011 | 11:45 am

The Bust of Isabella d'Este in the saltmine of Altaussee, Austria in May 1945.

The latest edition of the Monuments Men Newsletter was published. The 24th edition includes the inside story of the Monuments Men Foundation’s role with the Kimbell Museum restitution the Bust of Isabella D’Este, what Robert Edsel has been doing this summer, the fitting tribute to the recently departed Colonel Seymour J. Pomrenze,  and the rescheduling of the “In the Footsteps of the Monuments Men” European Tour. Please click on the link to read the newsletter and forward to all your family and friends.

Just in case you may not know, we are on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/RobertEdsel) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Robert-Edsel/130960233032)

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MONUMENTS MEN NEWSLETTER – EISENHOWER AUDIO RECORDING DISCOVERED

April 27th, 2011 | 11:25 am

General Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie, departing the Met.
(photo courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries.)

The Monuments Men Foundation is proud to announce the discovery of an audio recording of General Eisenhower speaking about the importance of art and its protection during war.

The speech was delivered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on April 2, 1946 at an event in which General Eisenhower was presented with an Honorary Life Fellowship from the museum with a citation that read:

“To Dwight D. Eisenhower, soldier, diplomat and statesman, through whose irreplaceable art treasures were saved for future generations.”

Award recipients with Texas Governor Rick Perry, including Bill Paxton,
Bob Schieffer, Barbara Smith Conrad and ZZ Top.

Other articles in this newsletter: the announcement of a new book coming out in Spring of 2013, Remembering Maria Altmann, and Robert Edsel presented with Texas Medal of Arts.

Click On the Link to Read The Monuments Men Newsletter

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