Richard M. Barancik (1924-Present)
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Richard M. Barancik enlisted in the Army Enlisted Reserve Corps (AERC) in December 1942 and attended the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) studying basic engineering in 1943 at the University of Nebraska. In 1944 Barancik was sent to Camp Rucker to join the newly-formed 66th Division, 263rd regiment, and was soon transferred to England for additional training. On Christmas Eve 1944, his division boarded transports crossing the English Channel to France and the Battle of the Bulge. However, tragedy struck when members of his division onboard a separate boat, the S.S. Leopoldville, were killed by German torpedoes. In all, over 700 U.S. servicemen lost their lives. Due to such heavy losses, the 66th Division instead replaced the division surrounding nearby St. Nazaire, France rather than continuing on to join the Battle of the Bulge. Following the German surrender, Barancik and his division were sent to Marseilles, France to wait for deployment to Japan. However, the Japanese surrendered and Barancik joined the 42nd Division, 232nd Infantry, in Austria.
In Austria, Barancik first learned of the MFAA and immediately applied for duty. He was given temporary assignment with the Education, Religion, Fine Arts, and Monuments Office in Salzburg, Austria alongside Cpl. Clyde J. Davis, also of the 42nd Division. For three months, Barancik and Davis assisted in the movement of stolen art treasures to the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point and served as guards. Barancik later remarked that, “When I arrived in Salzburg, I was not only overwhelmed by the beauty of the town but the quality of the men in the Fine Arts Section. They were typically older and very well educated in the Fine Arts.” During his service with the MFAA, Barancik worked with fellow Monuments Men Capt. Charles Sattgast, Maj. George Selke, Capt. James Rorimer, and Lt. Sherman Lee.
His work with the MFAA complete, Barancik traveled to London to participate in a six-week program with the Royal Institute of Architects designed to help professional architects assimilate back into civilian life. Afterward, he returned to Austria, where he was given orders for detached duty to the London Area Command, where he was able to attend Cambridge. Barancik studied architecture at the University of Cambridge in 1946 and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at Fontainebleau, France in 1947. He received his Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Bachelor of Science in General Studies at the University of Illinois in 1948, something he had started before the war began.
Barancik enjoyed a long and successful career as a Chicago architect from 1950 to 1993. His firm, Barancik, Conte and Associates, specialized in hi-rise apartment buildings, office campuses, shopping centers, and hotels. A member of the American Institute of Architects, he has been a board member of the Chicago Latin School, the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, the Monterey Institute of International Studies and the Monterey Museum of Art. His affiliations include The Arts Club and The Casino Club of Chicago as well as the Pebble Beach and Tennis Club and the Old Capital Club in California.
Richard M. Barancik lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo courtesy of the Barancik Family (private collection).