Our History Defines Us

Today, civilization is bearing witness to a cultural cleansing—the theft and deliberate destruction of our shared cultural heritage. These monuments, works of art and cultural objects belong to all of us; they define our human identity. EXPRESS YOUR OUTRAGE. Enlist in our virtual army of Monuments Men and women. Help us locate and preserve important missing objects of our past. Share your ideas with us about how we can unite with others to do a better job protecting these treasures of our past, now, and in the future.

About the Foundation

The Monuments Men Foundation honors the legacy of the men and women who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, known as the “Monuments Men,” and their unprecedented and heroic work protecting and safeguarding civilization’s most important artistic and cultural treasures from armed conflict during World War II. Raising public awareness is essential to the Foundation's mission.

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Nazi Germany

1933-1945

During World War II, Hitler systematically banned art and literature labeled as “degenerate” by Nazi ideology. Nazi Germany plundered museums, cultural institutions and private homes of occupied countries, profited from the sale of stolen treasures, and publicly torched cultural works deemed “un-German.”

  • 25,000 poetry, history, sociology and philosophy publications used in schools were burned in one night
  • 4,000,000 stolen works of art and other cultural objects were located and returned by the Monuments Men
  • Hundreds of thousands of objects are still missing

Taliban in Afghanistan

1996-2001

During the Taliban’s rise to power, its leaders banned most forms of art and cultural expression, purging museums of “un-Islamic” depictions of the living and human form. The Taliban destroyed countless historical artifacts deemed “idolatrous” and in contrast to their interpretation of the Quran teachings.

  • 2,500+ cultural artifacts from the National Museum in Kabul destroyed
  • Two 2,000-year-old Buddhist statues obliterated

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

2013-Present Day

Today, ISIS is stealing and destroying the cultural heritage of portions of Iraq and Syria.

  • 28 religious buildings plundered and destroyed, and counting!
  • Five of six UNESCO World Heritage sites in Syria significantly damaged
  • Less than two years to wipe out the heritage of centuries

How much more of our world heritage can we afford to lose?

Take a Stand

Cultural heritage transcends national boundaries. It is a gift to us from previous generations that serves as a source of learning, enjoyment, and inspiration. It is time to unite and reestablish the standards set by the Monuments Men and women during World War II. Become a Monuments Man; spread the word about our mission; share your ideas about how we can better preserve our history. Make an impact.

Thank You

Thank you for taking a stand for the preservation of our shared cultural heritage.

If you have knowledge about a missing cultural object—a painting, sculpture, drawing, book, or historical or religious documents—removed from Europe during or in the aftermath of World War II, or from some other conflict area, please email us or call our toll free number:

1-866-WWII-ART

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