Nazi-Plundered Treasures and the Unsung Heroes Who Risked Everything to Save Them
"THE MONUMENTS MEN: The Greatest Untold Story Of World War II" details how art objects, either stolen from museums in conquered areas or from Jewish individuals sent to their deaths, were secreted away for the purpose of creating Hitler's vision of a Germanic Über-museum, along of course with the enrichment of top party officials.
More than five million cultural objects were taken during the war, including valuable paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Jan Vermeer, Rembrandt, and sculptures by Michelangelo and Donatello, threatening to erase human history as we know it.
This overlooked story from WWII is relevant today in that irreplaceable historical artifacts are still missing from the greatest plunder committed in human history, with restoration, search and discovery ongoing.n fact, a Monet and Renoir among several other paintings were discovered in 2007 in the safety deposit box of a former Nazi official in Switzerland, begging the question what priceless and missing piece of art will turn up next?
The Monuments Men details how art objects, either stolen from museums in conquered areas or from Jewish individuals sent to their deaths, were secreted away in hidden storehouses carved into mountains, buried deep in salt mines, sunk in boggy marshes and concealed in chalets and fairy-tale European palaces for the purpose of creating Hitler's vision of a Germanic Über-museum, along of course with the enrichment of top party officials.
Author Robert Edsel presents the facts of the Nazi seizures and subsequent recoveries while fleshing out the heroes of the story, set amidst the milestones of the horrible, destructive campaign that was World War II.
Unlikely soldiers were found in Harry Ettlinger, a German Jew who emigrated to the U.S. six years before joining the service and played a pivotal role in the MFAA unit as well as personally satisfying a family dream when years after being forced from his homeland he was finally able to rescue his grandfather's own stored treasures, and George Stout, the unofficial leader of the unit and pioneer in art conservation.
D-Day: June 6, 1944. While the armies of the western Allies fought to defeat Hitler and the Nazis, 8 men and one woman, the most unlikely of spies, were in a race to save millions of the world's greatest artistic treasures, including works by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, from destruction by Nazi fanatics. They were known as Monument men.
This small group of international soldiers known as the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives unit, embarked on the greatest treasure hunt of all time as they tracked down the Nazi hiding spots with virtually no organization or support of any kind and reclaimed the seized items, beginning a monumental process of packing, transporting, and locating the arts original owners, a process still not fully completed as there are thousands of items waiting for rightful owners to be identified in addition to the untold treasures still hidden away in secret SS stashes.
ABOUT ROBERT EDSEL:
Robert Edsel began his career in the oil and gas exploration business. In
1996 he moved to Europe to enjoy life and spend time with his family.
Settling in Florence seeing some of the great works, he wondered how all of the monuments and art treasures survived the devastation of World War II.
During the ensuing years, he devoted himself to finding the answer. In the process, he commissioned major research that has resulted in this writing of The Monuments Men. Robert also coproduced the related documentary film, The Rape of Europa, and wrote Rescuing Da Vinci, a photographic history of an art heist of epic proportions and the Allied rescue effort. The author lives in Dallas.