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The Nazis Stole Artifacts For Hitler’s Museum, The Monuments Men Took It All Back.

The World War II was much beyond the wars of the armies and bloodsheds; there were thefts, tortures, and many other less-known incidents which are both strange and shocking. While the World War II was on its fullest spirit, the Nazi Army of Germany carried out the biggest art loot of all times. All of us know the crazy stories of Hitler and that he would go to any stretch to fulfill his ambitions. Reichsleiter Rosenberg Task Force (ERR) and  Nazi philosopher Alfred Rosenberg led the Nazi army. They stole more than one million artworks from all over Europe to frame the “ownerless cultural goods” in the proposed Führermuseum in Linz, Austria.

Later, the U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt established the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program (MFAA) after the constant urging of the Art conservator and Navy reservist George Stout. The MFAA worked under the mission of protecting and recovering cultural treasures from the wars and returning the stolen objects to the original rightful owners. The team “Monuments Men” composed of 345 men and women from 13 nations. Their prime aim was to abrade the European land to search as many artworks as possible that have been looted and concealed by the Nazis both during and after the war.

As expected, the Nazis had hidden most of the stolen pieces in salt mines and many other subterranean hideouts. It took the MFAA more than two months to restore and return the 1,500 pieces of artwork to their original owners and the Governments concerned. Later, the MFAA discontinued in 1946 when the State Department came into action.

1945: Under the charge of Captain James Rorimer of the MFAA, American soldiers carry recuperated paintings from the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany.

American GIs hand-carried paintings down the steps of the castle under the supervision of Captain James Rorimer. (Photo credit: NARA / Public Domain)

On December 29, 1943, General Eisenhower ordered to all his commanders, “Today we are fighting in a country rich in monuments which by their creation helped and now in their old age illustrate the growth of the civilization which is ours. We are bound to respect those monuments so far as war allows.”

April 24, 1945: The art pieces and monuments looted were stored in a lot of secret locations. An American soldier inspects a church at Elligen, Germany.

RG-111-SC-204899.tif An American soldier inspects German loot stored in a church at Elligen, Germany, April 24, 1945.

“The good name of the Army depended in great measure on the respect which it showed to the art heritage of the modern world.”, said the Lt. Col. Sir Leonard Woolley, an officer of the MFAA while praising his team.

April 12, 1945: Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, along with Gen. Omar N. Bradley, left, and Lt. George S. Patton, Jr. inspect the works of art stolen and concealed by the Nazis in a salt mine in Germany.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, accompanied by Gen. Omar N. Bradley, left, CG, 12th Army Group, and Lt. George S. Patton, Jr., CG, US Third Army, inspects art treasures stolen by Germans and hidden in a salt mine in Germany. 04/12/1945 RG-111-SC-204516.tif

April 13, 1945: An unknown Rembrandt painting repossessed in proper conditions in Berlin.

ERR Rembrandt 111-SC-374664 An unknown Rembrant recovered safe in Munich. 5/13/45.

April 13, 1945: Sgt. Major Harold Maus scans an Albrecht Dürer inscription found among other masterpieces in a salt mine in Merker, Germany.

Durer Collection 111-SC-374661M. SGT Harold Maus of Scranton, PA is pictured with the Durer engraving, found among other art treasures at Merker. 5/13/45.

April 15, 1945: Berlin museum paintings, Reichsbank wealth and SS loot discovered by The 90th Division of the U.S. Third Army. These art pieces were originally removed from Berlin and concealed in a salt mine vault in Merkers, Germany by the Nazis.

Germany. The 90th Division, the U.S. Third Army, discovered this Reichsbnk wealth, SS loot, and Berlin museum paintings that were removed from Berlin to a salt mine vault in Merkers, Germany. 04/15/1945 RG-111-SC-205409.tif

April 15, 1945: ‘Wintergarden’, by the French Impressionist Edouard Manet being examined by the U.S. soldiers who recovered it and many other art masterpieces from the salt mine vault where they were kept hidden by the Nazis.

Merkers, Germany U.S. Soldiers examine a famous painting, "Wintergarden," by the French Impressionist Edouard Manet, in the collection of Reichbank wealth, SS loot, and paintings removed by the Nazis from Berlin to a salt mine vault. The 90th Div, U.S. Third Army, discovered the gold and other treasure. 04/15/45 Photographer: Cpl. Ornitz RG-111-SC-203453-5.tif

July 6, 1945: Chaplain Samuel Blinder scrutinizes one of the many Saphor Torahs (Hebrew and Jewish books) that were stolen from every European nation.

Saphor Torahs 111-SC-209154 Chaplain Samuel Blinder examines one of the hundreds of "Saphor Torahs" (sacred scrolls) part of a cache of Hebrew and Jewish books that were stolen and collected from every occupied country in Europe. 7/6/45.

Aug. 3, 1945: The U.S. Army redeemed the Crown of Saint Stephen, the royal crown jewels of Hungary in Austria in May 1945. Later, the Hungarian Crown Guard gave it to the U.S. Army for its further protection from the Soviet Union.

Crown of Saint Stephens 111-SC-212507-1 The Hungarian Royal Crown jewels have been in the custody of the Seventh U.S. Army along with the Hungarian guard. The jewels are going to the U.S. Army repository at Frankfort, Germany for safe keeping. 8/3/45.

July 21, 1945: Six trucks carrying the Florentine art pieces worth of half-a-billion dollars taken to Bolsano, Italy by recoiling the arrival of the Germans at Piazzo Dei Signoria, Florence, Italy.

Truck of returned looted items to Italy 111-SC-210319-S Six trucks with part of the half billion dollars worth of Florentine art treasure, which was taken to Bolsano by retreating Germans, arrives at Piazzo Dei Signoria, Florence, Italy and passes by reviewing stand of American, English and Italian officials. 7/21/45.

Dec. 19 1948: Army officers appreciating Diego Velazquez’s portrait of King Philip IV of Spain during a ceremony returning the abstracted masterpieces to Austrian government.

Army officers viewing a painting 111-SC-233882 The Diego Velazquez Painting "Philip IV King of Spain", being examined by GEN Mark W. Clark, CG USFA, who was the host to allied leaders, and the Austrian people during a ceremony where art treasures recovered by the U.S. Army were returned to the rightful owners. LT. GEN Emile Marie Bethourart of France, LT. GEN. R.L. McCreery of Britian, Mr. Figl, Chancellor of Austria, and COL. GEN. Alexis Zheltov, Russian Deputy Commander, were guests of GEN Clark. 12/19/48.

‘Monuments Men’, a major Hollywood movie was released in 2014 and was based on the true events of a soldiers’ squad who were on the rescue mission of the stolen artworks during the World War II.dex439oqk8rtsp3zlf6d


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