The Monuments Men

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Leslie Harmon Norins ( 1916-1975 )

Leslie Harmon Norins was a recognized authority on newspapers and radio. Born in Boston, Massachusetts on April 23, 1916, he worked as an art teacher prior to his enlistment in the U.S. Army.

During World War II, Norins commanded a Camouflage Aviation Battalion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Following the end of hostilities, he was transferred to Munich and assigned to the Regierungsbezirk Oberbayern Section of the Office of Military Government for Bavaria under the direction of Monuments Man Capt. Jonathan T. Morey. Stationed in Munich, Norins conducted inspections of war-damaged museums, churches, and historical monuments.

In late August 1945 Norins visited Ingolstadt, a city located eighty kilometers north of Munich. There, he reported that many of the city’s historic buildings suffered severe damage during the war, including the fifteenth-century castle, Neues Schloss. Norins found that bombs had crumbled the castle’s roof and upper stories, destroyed part of the tower, and blown out every door and window. Inside, Norins located the Stădtisches Archiv and Bibliothek, a collection consisting of thousands of pages of municipal registries, ecclesiastical documents, and guild records dating from the thirteenth century as well as almost 20,000 books and 3,000 photographic negatives. To prevent further damage, Norins posted guards to keep out local looters and curious Allied soldiers. He then began plans to repair the roof and replace the doors and windows.

Norins was discharged from the U.S. Army in June 1946. Following his return to the United States, he began a career as the manager of a succession of radio stations in California. He first served as the general sales manager of KFRE in San Jose before working as General Manager and Vice President of KEYT-TV in Santa Barbara. He died in Los Angeles on June 19, 1975.

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