Thus was born the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (“MFAA”) section under the auspices of the Civil Affairs and Military Government Sections of the Allied Armies.
The “Monuments Men”, were a group of approximately 345 men and women from thirteen nations who comprised the MFAA section during World War II. Many were museum directors, curators, art historians, artists, architects, and educators. Together they worked to protect monuments and other cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II. In the last year of the war, they tracked, located, and in the years that followed returned more than five million artistic and cultural items stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. Their role in preserving cultural treasures was without precedent.
The Monuments Men remained in Europe for up to six years following the conclusion of fighting to oversee the complicated restitution of stolenworks of art. During that time they played instrumental roles in rebuilding cultural life in the devastated countries of Europe by organizing temporary art exhibitions and musical concerts.