Archive for '- World War II'
Don’t miss Robert Edsel at the National Archives on February 19 at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Today’s blog post comes from Miriam Kleiman of the National Archives Public Affairs Office.
The new Monuments Men blockbuster film opens with Herman Goering gleefully viewing looted artwork at a Parisian art museum. The biggest art theft in history–the Nazi’s systematic and looting of more than a million items–was spearheaded and managed by Alfred Rosenberg. For the first time, anyone (who reads German) can read Rosenberg’s diary and peek inside the mind of an architect of Nazi policy and the top art looter of the of the Nazi Regime.
Rosenberg’s diary was collected for possible use as evidence at Nuremberg, where prosecutors noted its importance: “Perhaps foremost among the prize acquisitions [of the captured records] was the neatly crated collection of all the personal and official correspondence of Alfred Rosenberg…” Rosenberg was convicted of crimes against humanity and hanged in 1946.
The bulk of his diary vanished shortly afterwards and has been recovered only recently with the help of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Justice. The diary was transferred to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on December 17, 2013, and is now available online.
Alfred Rosenberg headed the Third Reich’s Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, the main agency for the … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on February 18, 2014, under - World War II.
Tags: Alfred Rosenberg, art history, Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, ERR, germany, Greg Bradsher, Herman Goering, Monuments Men, Nazis, Office of Strategic Services, OSS, Robert Edsel, WWII
As the recently-opened movie Monuments Men plays around the country, there’s one macabre story you won’t see on the silver screen.
It’s about the remains of German leaders, including Frederick the Great and Frederick William I.
The Germans had hidden the caskets containing the bodies of the Fredericks and former Weimar President Paul von Hindenburg and his wife in a mine in a remote area to conceal them from the approaching Russian troops. But the war ended, and U.S. troops made it to the mine first and found the caskets. They were in a room divided into different compartments hung with brilliants flags.
Capt. Walker K. Hancock, an officer specialist with the Monuments Men, described the scene: “Crawling through the opening into the hidden room, I was at once forcibly struck with the realization that this was no ordinary deposit of works of art. The place had the aspect of a shrine . . . all suggested the setting for a modern pagan ritual.”
Naval Reserve Lt. George Stout, one of the foremost experts on art conservation, later described the casket in an oral history interview with the Archives of American Art in 1978. In the movie, Clooney’s character is based on Stout.
Along with the caskets were treasures from the Hohenzollern Museum in Berlin, including items used at the 1701 coronation of King Frederick … [ Read all ]
Today’s post comes from Alan Walker, archivist at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.
Now, maybe it’s happened to you: that “needle in a haystack,” “home run,” unbelievable find that blew you away, and brought joy to a researcher. We archival folks live for that moment.
Let me share with you one such moment from my career. During busy times in the Still Picture Branch, the processing staff can be called upon to help answer reference letters, or staff the research room. One day in early 1995, I was asked to help with the backlog of letters.
This one from Mr. Evan Evans looked promising:
A 90mm antiaircraft gun? No problem! We have tons of photos of various artillery pieces and vehicles in our files. Or so I thought.
I spent half the day trying to track down a decent shot of the antiaircraft gun Mr. Evans requested, and I came up empty. Then I read through his letter again. He and his gun crew set a record for downing 12 Japanese bombers over Rendova? Maybe they had been photographed after their feat; the military services are always on the lookout for a good story to tell the folks back home.
So I checked out series 127-GW, under the heading Rendova . . . and what do you know?
Needless to say, … [ Read all ]
A new movie due for release next month tells the story of a special unit of Allied soldiers in Europe at the end of World War II. They were charged with finding and savings works of art and other cultural artifacts that the Nazis had seized.
Officially, this unit was called the Monuments, Fine Art, and Archives (MFA&A) section, but unofficially, they were the Monuments Men. But you don’t have to wait until the movie, also called Monuments Men, is released to learn about them. Greg Bradsher, a senior archivist and a specialist in this period in history, tells one story of the Monuments Men in the latest issue of Prologue magazine.
Bradsher is a frequent contributor to Prologue and an archivist specializing in World War II intelligence, looted assets, and war crimes.
In his article, Bradsher provides an account of how U.S. soldiers found a cache of treasures and called in the Monuments Men.
The most unusual find was a group of four caskets—with the remains of Frederick the Great, Frederick William I, and President Paul von Hindenberg and his wife. What happened to them? Bradsher has the answer.
The movie has an all-star cast: Oscar winners George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Cate Blanchett as well as Bill Murray and John Goodman. Clooney directs and is one of the producers. The film … [ Read all ]
Posted by Jim on January 22, 2014, under - Cold War, - Spies and Espionage, - World War II, preservation, Prologue Magazine, Uncategorized.
Tags: and Archives, Cate Blanchett, Fine Art, George Clooney, Greg Bradsher, Matt Damon, monuments, Monuments Men, Nazi, Prologue, Robert Edsel
Some of our documents made a special trip across Constitution Avenue today, traveling from the National Archives Building to our neighbor on the Mall, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Tonight, the museum is hosting a dinner for this year’s sixteen recipients of the nation’s highest civilian honor: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Over the past fifty years, the award has been given to 500 people. President Kennedy re-established the Medal of Freedom as the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, eighteen years after it was first established by President Truman.
Although President Kennedy was killed just two weeks before the planned award ceremony, President Johnson went forward with the first award ceremony. Marian Anderson was among the first 31 recipients. He also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to President Kennedy.
You can watch tonight’s ceremony live online.
Karen Hibbitt, registrar at the National Archives, and conservator Lauren Varga accompanied the documents and prepared the display, and they will remain there during the event to ensure the safety of the documents.
The featured documents are Executive Order 11085 and a set of design drawings. On February 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 11085, establishing the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The Institute of Heraldry, U.S. Army, then created design drawings for the medal for President and Mrs. Kennedy to review. … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on November 20, 2013, under - Presidents, - The 1960s, - World War II.
Tags: Constitution Avenue, Executive Order 11085, JFK, Medal of Freedom, National Museum of American History, President Johnson, Smithsonian