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.
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.
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.
April 13, 1945: An unknown Rembrandt painting repossessed in proper conditions in Berlin.
April 13, 1945: Sgt. Major Harold Maus scans an Albrecht Dürer inscription found among other masterpieces in a salt mine in Merker, Germany.
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.
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.
July 6, 1945: Chaplain Samuel Blinder scrutinizes one of the many Saphor Torahs (Hebrew and Jewish books) that were stolen from every European nation.
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.
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.
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.