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Tag: art

On display: Finding stolen art using this album

A recently discovered album donated to the National Archives by Monuments Men Foundation President Robert M. Edsel is on display until February 20, 2014. The album is open to a photograph of an important painting by master French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Girl Holding a Dove was repatriated by the Monuments Men in 1946. It sold at auction in 2000 for over $5 million.

In addition to the Featured Document display, the National Archives will host an evening with Robert Edsel on Wednesday, February 19, at 7 p.m. Edsel will discuss his books and the recent film adaptation starring George Clooney, and his work as founder and president of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art.

This month's Featured Document display is a piece of Monuments Men history.

This month’s Featured Document display is a piece of Monuments Men history. (Photo by Amanda Perez)

Perhaps the most unlikely heroes to emerge from World War II, the Monuments Men (and women) were a multinational group of curators, art historians, and museum directors who saved centuries of artistic and cultural treasures from destruction. Trading hushed galleries and libraries for besieged European cities, the men and women of the Monuments, Fine Art, and Archives Program risked their lives to protect museums, churches, and monuments from combat.

They also tracked down and recovered thousands of priceless artworks stolen by the Nazis—much of it from Jewish families. In the final … [ Read all ]

More Hitler art albums discovered

A page from ERR Album 7, showing a photograph of Girl Holding a Dove by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.

This morning in Dallas, TX, the Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, Senior Archivist Greg Bradsher, and President of the Monuments Men Foundation Robert M. Edsel announced the discovery of two original albums of photographs of paintings and furniture looted by the Nazis.

The Monuments Men Foundation will donate these albums, which have been in private hands since the end of World War II, to the National Archives.

These albums were created by a special Nazi task force, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), to document the 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 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,” Edsel said. “These albums are just the tip of the iceberg for hundreds of thousands of cultural items still missing since World War II.”

In the closing days of World War II, U.S. soldiers entered Adolf Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps. Many picked up souvenirs to prove they had been inside the Berghof.

Cpl. Albert Lorenzetti (989th … [ Read all ]

The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy’s Art During World War II

Ilaria Dagnini Brey is the author of The Venus Fixers, an account of the Monuments Officers, who were assigned by the Allies to preserve and protect the artwork and monuments of Europe from looting and destruction. She is the featured Author on the Record for the Fall 2010 issue of Prologue. We invited her to do a guest post on a document from the National Archives that inspired her. Enjoy!

The Venus Fixers

Iliaria Dagnini Brey


Soldiers at work in the Temple of Neptune at Paestrum. National Archives, Record Group 239.

Soldiers at work in the Temple of Neptune at Paestrum. National Archives, Record Group 239.

I found this photograph one afternoon at the National Archives at College Park after hours of searching through folders, albums and boxes of images. It made my day.

What struck me most about the photograph was the combination of the military and the religious element in it—soldiers in a shrine, albeit an ancient one—and the resulting peaceful atmosphere of the image. The soldiers are intently at work and look almost like school students during study hall. The massive Dorian columns of the Greek temple seem almost protective of their quiet activity.

At first I thought, how clever to set up an office, as it were, in the cool shade of those ancient stones; and I thought how beautiful, that soldiers from overseas could feel so at home among some of the most ancient ruins of … [ Read all ]