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Bernard Druène ( 1896-1991 )

Bernard Druène was a prominent French military historian. Born in Luz-Saint-Sauveur, France in 1896, he enlisted in the French Army shortly before his twentieth birthday. He trained extensively at École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr (Special Military School of Saint-Cyr) before active service in northern Morocco. In 1940 he was captured by German forces and sent to Oflag IV (short for Offizier-Lager, one of many camps for officer POWs) in Dresden.

Following the end of hostilities, Druène joined the effort to investigate and restitute works of art and other cultural objects looted from France by the Nazis. As Chief of the Historical Section in the French Army Ministry, he was well-placed to succeed Monuments Man Col. Michel François as Chief of the Commission de Récupération artistique (French Commission for Art Recovery) for Baden-Baden.

In March 1947 Druène worked alongside Monuments Woman Capt. Edith A. Standen to investigate a sixteenth-century bronze cannon discovered at Neues Schloss in Stuttgart, Germany. Because of the cannon’s immense weight, it was too heavy to be transported to a repository for safekeeping during the war. Instead, it was buried in the castle’s garden. As a renowned expert on French military arms and armor, Druène was called in to identify the cannon. Upon closer inspection, he determined the cannon to be the so-called “Württembergishe Schlange” (the Snake of Württemberg, for the emblem that adorns it) cast in Vienna in 1593 and brought to France by Napoleon. Druène’s joy to have found the treasured cannon was such that Standen later wrote, “We went at once to inspect it; if I had been a man, I think he [Druene] would have kissed me on both cheeks.”

Druène was the author of many books and scholarly articles on French military history, including French Berlin through Eight Centuries (1949) and Napoleon and His Opponents (1965).

He died in his hometown of Luz-Saint-Sauveur, France in 1991.

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