Robert Edsel's Blog

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The Islamic State’s Murder of a Modern Day Monuments Man

August 25th, 2015 | 11:20 am

(As posted on www.HuffingtonPost.com on Aug 21, 2015)

Khaled al-Asaad, 83-year-old retired Syrian archaeologist known admiringly as “Mr. Palmyra” for his extraordinary knowledge of that revered 2,000 year-old Roman era city, has been killed.

Jihadists of the Islamic State publicly beheaded al-Asaad, and then hung his body by his wrists from a traffic light positioning his head on the ground below. Attached to his waist was a sign listing his alleged crimes: attending “infidel conferences,” and acting as “the director of idolatry” for his lifelong passion in documenting and sharing with the public the artistic and cultural history of Palmyra, his birthplace. Syria’s Director of Antiquities provided a more rational explanation: despite repeated questioning, al-Asaad refused to divulge the location of statues and other works of art that had been removed from the city for safekeeping prior to the arrival of Islamic State militants.

Palmyra, September 2010. (Photo Credit: AB Edsel)

The death of Khaled al-Asaad is not the first in the service to the arts during times of war. In March 1945, British Monuments Man Major Ronald Balfour, was killed by shrapnel relocating treasures from Christ the King Church in Cleve, Germany. The following month, machine-gun fire claimed the life of American Monuments Man Captain Walter Huchthausen while checking on a report of stolen art. Although scholar-soldiers, Balfour and Huchthausen wore military uniforms; al-Asaad was a civilian more than twice their age, armed with little more than his extensive knowledge of Palmyra’s once great civilization.

Khaled al-Asaad’s determination to protect Palmyra and its treasures parallels the service of the great French heroine, Rose Valland. From 1940-1944, this unassuming woman worked as a custodian of small Paris museum that the Nazis had commandeered for their looting operation, all the while spying on their activities. Twice accused and threatened with summary execution, Valland persisted, and fortuitously so. Her secret notes recording the arrival of stolen art and its subsequent shipment to Germany proved instrumental to the Monuments Men’s discovery of more than twenty thousand works of art. Valland would later join the Monuments Men and continue the search for missing works of art until her death in 1980.

The horrific death of Khaled al-Asaad, like those of Balfour and Huchthausen, underscores the high cost of protecting works of art and other cultural treasures during war. Balfour and Huchthausen knew this before volunteering; still, they wanted to serve. According to his son, Walid al-Asaad, al-Asaad knew it too, choosing to remain in his hometown despite ample opportunity to flee prior to ISIL’s encirclement of Palmyra.

Is art worth a life? It is a question that goes to the very soul of the work of the Monuments Men during World War II, and that of hundreds of volunteers, then and now, who have risked their lives to save our shared cultural heritage. Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower believed that the answer must be “no,” stating clearly that a human life counts “infinitely” more. Monuments Man Captain Deane Keller, a 42 year-old professor of art at Yale University and an artist himself, agreed. Keller, whose three-year long military service in Italy included a year and a half in or near combat, once wrote, “no work of art is worth the life of a single American boy.”

But Keller made a critical distinction between risking one’s life to save a work of art versus risking one’s life fighting for a cause. Like his fellow Monuments Men, Keller considered it a privilege to represent his country to preserve the freedom of creative expression by artists just as he did preserving the greatest examples of what artists before him had created. General Eisenhower spoke of this during a 1946 speech stating, “That, for democracy at least, there always stands beyond the materialism and destructiveness of war the ideals for which it is fought.”

In making his case for cultural preservation to President Roosevelt in 1943, Monuments Man Lt. Commander George Stout said it clearly and dispassionately:

“To safeguard these things will show respect for the beliefs and customs of all men and will bear witness that these things belong not only to a particular people but also to the heritage of mankind. To safeguard these things is part of the responsibility that lies on the governments of the United Nations.”

Roosevelt agreed. Balfour, Huchthausen and now Khalid al-Asaad, honored those lofty ideals; the United Nations has not.

In a speech his death precluded delivering, Monuments Man Ronald Balfour made an eloquent and enduring case for the preservation of cultural treasures. Its timeless warning would have resonated with Khalid al-Asaad, who knew that few places in our world offer a richer window to the past than Palmyra.

“No age lives entirely alone; every civilization is formed not merely by its own achievements but by what it has inherited from the past. If these things are destroyed, we have lost a part of our past, and we shall be the poorer for it.”

We ignore Balfour’s wisdom at our own peril.

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Happy Birthday to Monuments Man Rouben Sami!

August 15th, 2015 | 5:45 am

Today, I’d like to wish a happy 94th birthday to Monuments Man Rouben Sami!

I was privileged to meet with Rouben and his wife Lee at their home in Florida just this past year, the 21st? Monuments Man I’ve met and interviewed during my many years of research. His recollections about the work he did as Deputy Director of the Offenbach Archival Depot (OAD) brought back a flood of memories for me about another Monuments officer I interviewed and came to love—Colonel Seymour Pomrenze.  In fact, it was Col. Pomrenze who recruited Rouben to assist with the daunting work being done at the OAD.

It was clear that Rouben loves to laugh. He joked about being one of the few workers at the Depot who had the use of a Jeep, saying, “All the officers were my good friends because they had no vehicles!” He also mentioned that, because he knew so many foreign languages, officers would shout, “Where’s Rueben? Get Rueben! He can talk to us!”

The five-floor Depot was home to approximately 2.5 million books and manuscripts, which the Nazis looted from more than sixty libraries across Europe and Russia. As Deputy Director between May and August 1946, Rouben was responsible for the successful return of hundreds of thousands of these documents and volumes to the their respective homelands.

Though they spoke many different languages and came from different walks of life, Rouben and his colleagues at the OAD shared common ground in their commitment to return every single object to its rightful owner.

Rouben hailed from New York City, but he was in fact raised in Palestine.  Not surprisingly, the return of Hebrew books and rare manuscripts stolen from synagogues and individuals carried with it special significance for him. He later said, “I loved the job because I was helping my own people.”

Thank you, Rouben Sami, for your devoted service as a Monuments Man. I join with thousands of others to wish you a happy birthday filled with many more years of wonderful memories.

Rouben’s wife, Lee, and I look on as Rouben Sami signs a copy of Rescuing Da Vinci. Each one of the Monuments Men and women I’ve interviewed has signed this book making it the most rare and treasured document among hundreds in the collection of the Monuments Men Foundation.

 

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Support the restoration of the Canonica di Belforte!

November 13th, 2014 | 2:18 pm

Dear Friends,

Help me support the restoration of the Canonica di Belforte in Italy! We have only until the end of November to show our support. The Canonica di Belforte is in urgent need of restoration.

If you’ve read my last book Saving Italy then you will remember the “Flying Priest” Don Guido Anelli. The Canonica di Belforte is the building in which Don Anelli used to meet and supervise the other partisan fighters, those brave Italian patriots who risked and lost their lives during the dark days of 1943-1945.

Don Guido Anelli, far right, shortly before Christmas 1944. (Sergio Giliotti Collection)

“What are we without our history? Preservation of the Canonica di Belforte presents us with an opportunity to not only restore an important building of the Middle Ages, one that still possesses its original roof of stones, but preserve the meeting place of partisan fighters and their leader, Don Guido Anelli, who played a critical role in contributing to the defeat of German forces in Italy during World War II.  This important building gave birth—and was a place of refuge—for those brave Italian patriots who risked and lost their lives during the dark days of 1943-1945.  Its preservation will serve as a reminder for us all that freedom is not free.”

Please, show your support to our friends of Circolo Belforte and vote for the restoration of the Canonica di Belforte. Your vote will give the Canonica a chance to win a restoration project sponsored by FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano (the Italian National Trust).

Just click HERE and vote away!

Unfortunately the wesbite is only in Italian, so here are some easy steps to guide you through your vote:

–       Click on the green button on the right, where it says “VOTA” with a thumb up
–       This will take you to a registration page and you can choose whether to log in through your Facebook account (easy) or to create a new account
–       To create a new account, click on the orange button on the left and enter your information as requested (Name, Lastname, Postal Code, Email address, Username, Password and Retype Password). Make you sure you also select the box confirming that you’ve read terms&conditions.
–       Click the green button that reads “REGISTRATI” and that’s it!

–       A confirmation email will be sent to your inbox. Make sure you click on the orange button “CONVALIDA IL VOTO”  wihtin the email body to confirm your registration and then log on back to the website and vote!
–       Enter your newly created username and password by clicking on the green button in the top right corner of the website that reads “ACCEDI”

The small town of Belforte in Parma (Italy) and I thank you for your important support!

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Departed Hero: Monuments Man James A. Reeds

October 12th, 2012 | 3:35 pm

 

(James Reeds, second from the left and standing up, and the Monuments Men being honored at the Congressional Resolution Ceremony on June 6, 2007)

Monuments Man Jim Reeds has passed away at the age of 91. Reeds began his service with the Monuments Fine Arts and Archives in France under the direction of Monuments officers Lt. Comdr. George Stout and Maj. Bancel LaFarge. He was one of the earliest members of the MFAA. Following the Allied victory, Reeds was stationed at Wiesbaden, Germany and at U.S. Forces European Theater Headquarters in Frankfurt-Hoechst. As chief clerk for the office, Sergeant Reeds responded to incoming messages regarding works of art that had been discovered in the field. After his discharge from the U.S. Army, he then accepted a position as a medical supply officer for Allied Military Government working as a civilian.

Prior to his military service, Reeds was a pre-medical student at the University of Iowa. His knowledge of the German language placed him in the Army Specialized Training Program as an interpreter. He resumed his college education upon returning home from Germany. In 1947 he graduated with a B.A. in German. He received his M.A. in German in 1949, and later his M.A. in linguistics and a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Michigan, in 1959 and 1966, respectively.

From 1952 to 1958, Reeds taught at Penn State, and spent the 1956-57 school year as a Fulbright teacher in Detmold, Germany. He worked at the University of Michigan and the University of Detroit while studying for his Ph.D. From 1966 to 1969 he taught as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. Reeds began his long career at the University of Missouri –Kansas City in 1969, and was named associate professor emeritus upon his retirement in 1990. He traveled to Poland in 1984 to teach as a Fulbright Professor at the University of Lodz. Reeds later moved to Kansas City,Missouri with his wife Hedy, whom he met while serving in the MFAA.

(James Reeds,  second from the left, Robert Edsel, the Monuments Men and President George W. Bush at the 2007 National Humanities Medal Ceremony at the White House)

On June 6, 2007, the 63rd anniversary of D-Day, Jim was one of four Monuments Men who attended the ceremony at the United States Senate to celebrate the unanimous passage of Resolutions by both Houses of Congress that for the first time honored the service of the Monuments Men. Later that year, Jim and three other Monuments Men returned to Washington on the occasion of the Monuments Men Foundation’s receipt of the National Humanities Medal from President Bush. Prior to the medal presentation, the Sergeant-at-Arms read aloud the citation: “For sustained efforts to recognize the contributions of the scholar-soldiers of the Second World War. Our civilization is forever indebted to a handful of men and women who, in an era of total war, rescued and preserved a precious portion of the world’s heritage.”

Seeing Jim and the other Monuments Men receive these long overdue tributes filled everyone in attendance with joy. A long held dream was realized. I will always treasure the memories of those days, especially the opportunity to befriend Jim and his lovely wife, Hedy.

With the passing of James Reeds, there are now just seven living Monuments officers.

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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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It’s Over Over Here!

May 8th, 2012 | 9:50 am

Today marks the 67th anniversary of the announcement formally ending World War II in Europe, the most destructive war in history. With the announcement came the end of the Third Reich and the rule of Adolf Hitler. May 8 forever became known as “V-E Day”: Victory in Europe.

As we mark this anniversary, we have the opportunity afforded us by the passage of time to consider how different our world would be had it not been for  the historic orders issued by General Eisenhower which established, clearly and succinctly, the policy of the western Allies concerning the protection of cultural treasures during combat.  This was the first time an army attempted to fight a war while mitigating damage to monuments and other artistic treasures.

On December 29, 1943 during combat operations in Italy, and again prior to the D-Day landings in Normandy, General Eisenhower issued historic orders that stated, “We are bound to respect those monuments so far as war allows.” The primary instruments of that policy were a small group of men and women of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, known as “Monuments Men”—museum directors, curators, artists, architects and librarians who volunteered for service to protect monuments from damage, and effect temporary repairs.  These “scholar soldiers” changed our world by preserving it.  Imagine: most every museum in Europe emptied of its contents, closed for almost six years. It was the greatest upheaval of cultural treasures in history! Near war’s end, the Monuments Men located millions of stolen paintings, books, tapestries, and other artistic treasures which had been hidden in salt mines, caves, castles and other Nazi hideouts.  By 1951, the Monuments Men had returned more than five million objects to the countries from which they had been stolen. In a break with thousands of years of history and with conquerors past, the policy of the western Allies was clear: “To the victors do NOT belong the spoils of war.”

We continue to live with the altered legacy of Hitler and the Nazis. Sixty million lives lost; destruction on a scale unknown to man before or since; irreplaceable parts of the civilization of our planet lost forever. But right and goodness prevailed; much of civilization did survive, all at an enormous cost. We honor the sacrifices of others by learning from these experiences and not repeating their mistakes. We honor them by remembering. I think of my father today, a World War II veteran of the Pacific, who died four years ago. Thank you to my Dad, and to the men and women who served alongside of him for saving our world.

(Generals of the German High Command signing the formal surrender documents which ended the war in Europe on May 7, 1945. From left to right: Major General Wilhelm Oxenius, an aide to General Jodl; Colonel General Gustav Jodl, Chief of Staff of the German Army; and General Admiral Hans Georg von Friedeburg, Commander in Chief of the German Navy)

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Holocaust Remembrance Day

April 20th, 2012 | 2:49 pm

Yesterday in a speech for Holocaust Remembrance Day, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta praised the work of the Monuments Men, and described Col. Seymour Pomrenze as a “hero.” Col. Pomrenze, who passed away last year, was the first Director of the Offenbach Archival Depot. He was instrumental in the restitution of thousands of looted archives. I agree with Secretary Panetta: Col. Seymour Pomrenze was a hero, as were all of the Monuments Men!

(The Monuments Men Foundation received the National Humanities Medal in 2007.
Col. Seymour Pomrenze is 3rd from the right)

To learn more about Col. Seymour Pomrenze, please visit his bio:
http://www.monumentsmen.com/bio.php?id=238
Read the full text of the Defense Secretary’s speech here:

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National Archives and Monuments Men Foundation Announces Discovery of Hitler Albums Documenting Looted Art

March 27th, 2012 | 3:29 pm

Monuments Men Foundation Founder and President Robert Edsel and Archivist of the United States David Ferriero unveil the donation of two “Hitler Albums” to the National Archives at the Meadow Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX

To Learn More about this amazing discovery, please visit us at www.monumentsmenfoundation.org.

PRESS RELEASE

Today at a ceremony in Dallas, David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, Dr. Greg Bradsher, Senior Archivist and Robert M. Edsel, President of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art and author of The Monuments Men, announced the discovery of two original leather bound albums containing photographs of paintings and furniture looted by the Nazis. The Monuments Men Foundation will donate these albums, both of which have been in private hands since the end of World War II, to the National Archives.

These albums, created by the staff of a special task force, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, document the unprecedented and systematic looting of Europe by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. The ERR was the main Nazi agency engaged in the theft of cultural treasures in Nazi-occupied countries.

The Archivist hailed this discovery as “one of the most significant finds related to Hitler and the Nazi’s premeditated theft of art and other cultural treasures to be found since the Monuments Men Foundation’s previous discovery of Albums 6 and 8. It is exciting to know that original documents are shedding light on this important aspect of World War II. Documents such as these may play a role in helping to solve some of those mysteries and, more importantly, helping victims recover their treasures. The National Archives is grateful to Mr. Edsel and the Monuments Men Foundation for today’s donation of Albums 7 and 15, which will allow scholars and historians immediate use of these materials.”

“The Foundation often receives calls from veterans and their heirs, who don’t know the importance of items they may have picked up during their service, or aren’t aware that anyone is looking for the items,” Foundation President Robert M. Edsel stated. “These albums are just the tip of the iceberg for hundreds of thousands of cultural items still missing since World War II. The role of the Monuments Men in preserving cultural treasures during conflict was without precedent. We honor their legacy by completing their mission.”

In the closing days of World War II, U.S. soldiers entered Adolf Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps. Many picked up trinkets as souvenirs as proof that they had been inside. Cpl. Albert Lorenzetti and Private First Class Yerke Zane Larson each took one leather bound album. Neither man knew the significance of the albums, other than being a memento of their war service. Heirs to both men contacted the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, a not-for-profit organization that received the 2007 National Humanities Medal, after reading media stories about the Foundation’s work involving the restitution of other valuable World War II documents.

Yerke Zane Larson proudly served in the 501st Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division, “the Screaming Eagles.” His daughter Sandra Runde stated: “If my father was still living, I know he would be pleased to serve as an example for other veterans and their families of the importance of returning cultural treasures, just as the Monuments Men set the standard for protection of culture during armed conflict.” In the final days of the World War II, Larson picked up Album 15 as a souvenir while in Hitler’s home, known as the Berghof.

Cpl. Albert Lorenzetti, who served in the 989th Field Artillery Battalion, removed Album 7 from the Berghof the same week as Larson as proof he’d been in Hitler’s home. His niece, Jane Gonzalez, commented: “My uncle was from a generation that grew up making sacrifices and putting others before themselves,” said Ms. Gonzalez. “I believe that donating this album to the National Archives and thereby assuring its preservation and availability to the public honors his legacy and is a testament to his personal character and patriotism.”

As the ERR staff looted, photographed and catalogued the French collections, they created leather bound albums, including the two being donated today. Each page of the album contained a photograph of one stolen item. A letter representing the family from which the item was stolen and an inventory number is noted beneath each image; for example in Album 7, “R2951” would be the 2951st object stolen from the Rothschild family. The albums were specifically intended for Hitler in an effort to keep him apprised of the ERR’s progress in France. According to noted historian Dr. Birgit Schwarz, once Hitler received the first set of albums on his birthday in April 1943, he issued a directive that incorporated the confiscated items into “Special Commission Linz.” This organization oversaw building the collection for the Führermuseum, an unrealized museum complex Hitler planned to build in his hometown of Linz, Austria, as well as distribution of art to regional museums throughout the Reich. As the director, Hitler decided which items would be placed in certain museums.

ERR Albums 7 and 15 are significant discoveries. Album 7 includes images of sixty-nine paintings which represented very early thefts, some as early as 1940 and early inventory numbers such as EW4 (the fourth item stolen from Elizabeth Wildenstein). Images of two important paintings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard are featured in Album 7. Girl with Two Doves, or Mädchen mit zwei Taube,n (inventory code: R38) sold at auction in 2000 for over $5 million after having been properly repatriated by the Monuments Men in 1946. Album 7 also includesThe Dance Outdoors, or Tanz im Freien, (inventory code: R67) attributed to the painter Jean-Antoine Watteau, which was intended for Hitler’s Führermuseum. Although the majority of the paintings featured in Album 7 appear to have been properly restituted after the war, four paintings are listed on the ERR Database as not having been restituted. Album 15 contains photos of forty-one pieces of furniture, primarily from the Rothschild family. Three of those pieces, inventory codes R917, R943, and R944, were prominently featured in one of the exhibits staged at the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris for Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring to select items for his own collection.

In May 1945, thirty-nine original ERR albums were discovered at Neuschwanstein by the Monuments Men. They had been stored there by the Germans along with records that documented their confiscations and thousands of looted items. These albums were subsequently taken to the Munich Central Collecting Point where they were used by the Monuments Men to assist in the restitution process. In late 1945 these albums were used as evidence at the Nuremberg trials to document the massive Nazi art looting operations.

Today the National Archives has custody of the original thirty-nine albums, as well as two additional albums, 6 and 8, discovered by the Monuments Men Foundation and donated to the National Archives in 2007. Like Album 7, Albums 6 and 8 were picked up by a member of the 989th Field Artillery Battalion who was stationed in the Berchtesgaden area in the closing days of the war. Mr. Edsel stated about this occurrence: “I hope discoveries such as these will encourage other members of the 989th Battalion and their families, as well as all veterans, to look in their attics and basements for any lost wartime items as they may hold the clues to unravel this unsolved mystery.”

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George Clooney to Direct, Star in ‘Monuments Men’ About Stolen Nazi Art

January 9th, 2012 | 12:07 pm

EXCLUSIVE

George Clooney has started to work on his next project, writing, directing and starring in a big-budget movie about the men who chased down the stolen art of Europe during World War II, he told TheWrap on Saturday.

The Monuments Men,” which Clooney is co-writing with his producing partner Grant Heslov, will tell the story of a hand-picked group of art experts chosen by the U.S. government to retrieve artwork stolen by the Nazis.

“I’m excited about it,” Clooney told TheWrap at the Palm Springs Film Festival on Saturday. “It’s a fun movie because it could be big entertainment. It’s a big budget, you can’t do it small — it’s landing in Normandy.”

The movie will be based on the book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” by Robert M. Edsel.

Click Here to Read More: http://www.thewrap.com/movies/column-post/george-clooney-direct-star-monuments-men-about-stolen-nazi-art-exclusive-34177

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