The Monuments Men

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Raymond Hocart ( 1896-1983 )

Mineralogist and crystallographer, Raymond Hocart was born in France in 1896. A gifted scientist, his research focused on the formation of atomic and molecular structures and the internal properties of minerals and crystals. Prior to World War II, he worked as Professor of Mineralogy at the University of Strasbourg, France.

Hocart served with the French Army during World War II. In September 1945 he was assigned to the headquarters of U.S. Seventh Army as a Restitution Officer for the MFAA. He was charged with locating, identifying, and returning to France scientific materials, archives, and research documents stolen from the University of Strasbourg by the Nazis. Upon the liberation of Alsace by French troops in November 1944, it was estimated that, of the tens of thousands of books belonging to the university, only 600 remained. Hocart traveled throughout the U.S. Zone of Occupation conducting investigations at countless repositories for looted art. He tracked cases of books and archives to Schloss Neuenstein, multiple officers’ clubs, and the Heilbronn and Kochendorf mines. In October 1945 he visited a factory near Bopfingen, Germany, where he discovered 100 cases of scientific instruments along with five cupboards, three tables, and even a stove belonging to the university’s laboratory.

Following his involvement with the MFAA, Hocart returned to France and became Professor of Mineralogy at the University of Paris. He became well-known for his continuing studies of crystals and minerals. His numerous articles and books on the subject include Les Cristaux (1968) and Les Minéraux, Qu’est-ce Que C’est? (1978). In January 1968, The Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) voted to honor Hocart by naming a new mineral after him. The mineral, Hocartite, is a brownish-gray sulfosalt common in Bolivia.

Raymond Hocart died in 1983.