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Morrie Sophe Grinbarg ( 1918-1996 )

Morrie Sophe Grinbarg was born on January 9, 1918 to Eastern European immigrants who settled in Illinois. His mother and father were born in Romania and Russia, respectively. Growing up in Chicago, Grinbarg captained his high school’s football team and was voted “Most Athletic.” He then attended the University of Chicago, where he completed two degrees in Humanities followed by a Master’s degree in Education.

Grinbarg worked as an actor before enlisting in the U.S. Army in December 1941. While in the Army, he studied at the Bardo museum in Tunisia, the Vatican, and the University of Vienna. In August 1945 he received a transfer to the MFAA Branch of the U.S. Allied Commission for Austria (USACA) in Salzburg. One of his first assignments involved assisting with the return to Salzburg of archives belonging to the Salzburg state museums found in salt mines in Hallein, Austria. He later accompanied Monuments Man Lt. Frederick Hartt to Schloss Fischhorn, the repository for thousands of works of art and other cultural objects looted from Poland by the Nazis. In addition to securing additional guards to secure the castle’s treasures, Grinbarg supervised the months-long process of organizing, inventorying, and repacking these objects alongside a team of Polish art experts and workers. He also conducted inspections at many castles used as repositories for looted art, including Schloss Sighartstein, Schloss Hellbrun, Schloss Lichtenstein, and Schloss Leopoldskron.

Grinbarg was discharged from the U.S. Army in January 1946 then became an instructor of art at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He died in Oak Park, Illinois on April 19, 1996.

The Foundation is very interested in learning more about Morrie Grinbarg’s life, in particular his military service as a Monuments Man. If you have any information, please contact abottinelli@monumentsmenfoundation.org.