March 14, 1945 letter from Hancock to his wife Saima concerning the devastation of Germany
December 5, 1944 letter from George Stout to his wife Margie about “getting something done”
Undated Rorimer letter
Undated letter from James Rorimer to his wife Kay about life in France just after his arrival
Rorimer family letter
September 21, 1944 letter from Rorimer to his family about the state of the family’s apartment in Paris
Göring ERR letter
November 21, 1940 letter from Göring to Rosenberg outlining the Reichsmarschall’s involvement with the ERR
September 26, 1941 letter from Hofer to Göring updating him on the status of various Jewish collections in Paris
Rosenberg M-Aktion memo
October 3, 1942 memo to the Führer from Rosenberg outlining the activities of M-Aktion
April 21, 1943 letter from Bormann to Rosenberg instructing him to turn over looted objects for the Linz collection
Hitler and Göring
Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring both had an interest in art, and expanded their personal collections through looting and other illegal methods of acquisition.
By order of the Führer, more than 16,000 modern works deemed “degenerate” were removed from the walls of German museums.
Degenerate art auctioned
In 1939, 126 post-impressionist and modern pictures were placed with the Fischer Gallery in Lucerne for auction. These works were considered “degenerate” and had been among the thousands removed from German museums by order of Hitler and Goebbels.
Hitler’s art collection was destined for a new museum in his hometown of Linz, Austria.
Museums evacuated in 1939
In fall 1939, museums across Europe evacuated their collections to remote locations in the countryside in anticipation of war.
Out of bounds posting
An early “out of bounds” posting used by Monuments officers in Northern Europe and Italy
Ellingen, Germany cache
The Monuments Men encountered repositories such as this one all across Europe. Here, piles of boxes, records, and clothing are guarded by an American GI inside a church in Ellingen, Germany
Aachen Cathedral devastation
This was the scene of devastation that greeted Monuments Man Walker Hancock and other troops of U.S. First Army upon their arrival at the Aachen Cathedral
Bradley, Patton and Eisenhower on inspection
Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley, Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower inspect the German museum treasures stored in the Merkers mine
Merkers salt mine treasure trove
Hidden inside the Merkers salt mine was the majority of Nazi Germany’s gold reserves and paper currency.
The castle of Neuschwanstein in Germany was the key Nazi repository for the greatest works of art stolen from France.
Posey at Altaussee
Monuments Man Robert Posey, an unidentified U.S. Army officer, and American GIs stand in front of the administration building at the Altaussee salt mine in Austria
The Ghent Altarpiece was found in the mine at Altaussee. The central panel of the Ghent Altarpiece, due to its size and weight, proved particularly challenging to move through the narrow passageways.
Kern and Eder inspect a Vermeer
Monuments Man Lt. Daniel Kern and mine worker Max Eder inspect Jan Vermeer’s The Artist’s Studio, found inside the mine at Altaussee.
Ford and Ettlinger inspect a Rembrandt
This Self Portrait by Rembrandt, inspected by Monuments Men Dale V. Ford and Harry Ettlinger (right), was stored for safe-keeping by museum officials from Karlsruhe in the Heilbronn mine.
Estreicher and Albright with a da Vinci
Major Karol Estreicher, Polish liaison officer (holding painting), and Monuments Man Lt. Frank Albright (right of painting) returned Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine to its home in Cracow, Poland in April 1946. (National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD)
This material may not be duplicated, quoted, or published in whole or in part, without the express written consent of Robert M. Edsel.