Nazi Loot

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Leading credence to the old adage that fact is greater than fiction is the absorbing tale of how the Nazis plundered Europe for it’s cultural works of art during the Third Reich and WWII. On a scale that is incomprehensible by modern standards, the Nazis engaged in an offensive that attempted to wipe out and confiscate the artistic heritage of Europe. This cultural pillaging continued for over twelve years, during which time the allies, lead by President Roosevelt, launched a counter-offensive. This counter-offensive began with the formation of the “American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas” widely known as “The Roberts Commission.” Thus was born the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (“MFAA”) section, whose young art historians and curators from America and across Europe were known as the “Monuments Men”. Art historians as warriors? Yes, these men battled and managed to track, locate, and when possible return more than five million artistic and cultural items stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. Their role in preserving cultural treasures was without precedent and should clearly be deemed heroic. http://www.monumentsmenfoundation.org/the-heroes

The story of the contemporary plundering of Europe was depicted in a riveting documentary released in 2008 entitled, “The Rape of Europa,” narrated by Joan Allen. Please go to their website for more information: http://www.pbs.org/therapeofeuropa/

Gathering the headlines today is the release of the movie, “ The Monuments Men “. Based on the book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel. The movie was directed by George Clooney, written and produced by Clooney and Grant Heslov, and stars Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett. It is co-produced by Columbia Pictures (in association with 20th Century Fox) and Babelsberg Studio. For more on this film please see: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2177771/

The hunt for treasures stolen by the Nazis is by no means over, as evidenced by the fantastical news of a Munich man, Cornelius Gurlitt, who was caught with over 1 billion euros worth of Nazi stolen art hidden in his apartment.This cache was discovered in 2011, but not made public until early November 2013. It appears that Cornelius “inherited” the collection from his father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, a German art dealer and collector. Gurlitt the elder was an appointed dealer for the planned Führermuseum in Linz and personally instructed by the minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. Post WWII authorities were told by Gurlitt that all of the works of art in his collection were destroyed in the bombing of Dresden.

It appears that stories of buried Nazi treasure are true.

For more on this please go to:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/04/nazi-art-hoard-munich-recluse-cornelius-gurlitt

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