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World War II was not just the most destructive conflict in humanity, it was also the greatest theft in history: lives, families, communities, property, culture and heritage were all stolen.
The Rape of Europa Collector's Edition includes the award-winning documentary film, The Rape of Europa, based on the book by Lynn Nicholas, and narrated by Academy Award-nominated actress Joan Allen. It also features interviews with key figures including the Monuments Men and other war heroes, victims of the Nazis thefts, and prominent cultural figures including Major Corine Wegener (retired), a modern day Monuments woman who served in Iraq.
The Rape of Europa Collector's Edition addresses the questions of our time about the role of art in defining culture, and our shared responsibility to protect it. Included are Charlie Rose's interviews with author Lynn Nicholas and Robert M. Edsel, co-producer of The Rape of Europa and author of the companion book, Rescuing Da Vinci. The collectors edition includes 7 hours of additional footage.
The Washington Post
How Adolf Hitler could slaughter millions, yet also revere art -- humankind's most crystalline celebration of beauty, truth and its own spiritual essence -- is the central conundrum at the heart of "The Rape of Europa."
Based on Lynn Nicholas's book of the same name, it details how the Nazis systematically stole, repatriated and collected the paintings and other art objects of Jews and other victims across Europe. It also draws our attention to the central irony of Hitler's beginnings as a failed artist in Austria before he decided to paint his name in blood instead. He was a fanatical collector, and his ultimate dream was to create a city of art museums and monuments in Linz, Austria, which would enshrine his legacy. He was still obsessing about its plans in his final moments.
The documentary, directed by Bonni Cohen, Nicole Newnham and Richard Berge, spills over with those and other fascinating facts and testimony: the way, for instance, the staff of the Hermitage museum in (what was then) Leningrad, Russia, prepared to spirit away their staggering number of treasures from the advancing Third Reich, or Maria Altman's legal battles to reclaim the famous Gustav Klimt painting of her aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer, which was originally stolen by the Nazis. But as we progress ever deeper into the two-hour movie, "Europa" starts to lose its tight focus and becomes a cinematic cataloguing of events across seven countries. Given the moral imperative at the heart of the movie, however, perhaps more is more.
The New York Times
The issues raised by “The Rape of Europa,” a documentary about the Nazi pillaging of art and the Allied effort to return it, can’t be conveniently consigned to the dustbin of history. This story is still playing out, contentiously and emotionally, as art is recovered and heirs sue for restitution. (The case of Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, familiar to many New Yorkers, opens and closes the movie.)
“The Rape of Europa” covers endlessly interesting material: the central role art played for the Nazis; the arriviste connoisseurship of Hitler and Goering; the Germans’ different treatment of cities like Krakow (spared for its Germanic art) and Warsaw (almost obliterated for its Slavic art and sensibility). It also raises endlessly interesting questions: Should soldiers’ lives be risked to save historic sites and artwork? Can a culture survive if its art is wiped out?
"The Rape of Europa," an engrossing film based on Lynn Nicholas' 1995 book of the same name, offers a fascinating new perspective on an era that sometimes seems as if it has no more secrets. The documentary, directed by Bonni Cohen, Nicole Newnham and Richard Berge, tells the story of the Nazis' cultural scavenging with remarkable archival material, newly shot footage and interviews. In city after city across the Soviet Union, Poland, Holland and France, elite troops entered with itemized lists of masterworks to impound for Hitler's vast private collection or to be shipped back to museums in Germany.