The Monuments Men

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James B. Larwood ( 1903-1958 )

James Barnes Larwood was born on December 31, 1903 in Fayetteville, Tennessee. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology at Oglethorpe before receiving a Bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in New York in 1926. After graduation, he worked on the staff of several newspapers in New York, Florida, and Georgia, including the Atlanta Georgian. In 1928 he moved to New York City, where he managed his own public relations counseling firm for thirteen years.

In 1941 Larwood enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Washington, D.C. with Chemical Warfare Services. There, he served as editor-in-chief of all War Department publications relating to chemical warfare, including all field and technical manuals, bulletins, training films, charts, and posters. His publications also covered the secretive operation, Edgewood Arsenal, where the U.S. Army developed and tested masks, protective clothing, and chemical agent dispersal methods. He then attended military government school at Fort Custer in Michigan.

Larwood joined the MFAA in Germany in 1944. He served as MFAA Officer for U.S. Third Army alongside Monuments Man Maj. Robert K. Posey, and was later transferred to U.S. First Army. In October 1944 he inspected Rimburg Castle alongside Monuments Man Lt. Cdr. George L. Stout, where the pair supervised the evacuation of valuable paintings, rugs, draperies, carvings, pictures, and statues to safety in the castle’s gate house. Larwood also prepared a seven-page inventory of the collection.

Much of Larwood’s MFAA work was conducted in Cologne, Germany as MFAA Specialist Officer for the Regierungsbezirk Schwaben area. In this position, he worked to locate repositories of art looted from the various museums, churches, and private collections in the surrounding area. Large portions of the objects looted from Cologne were stored in the copper mines at Siegen. From December 1945 to March 1946 Larwood assisted Monuments Man Capt. Edward E. Adams with the evacuation of Buxheim Monastery. The monastery contained works of art and other cultural objects looted primarily from well-known Parisian Jewish families and collectors. In all, twenty train car loads of looted objects were removed from the monastery and returned to Paris. Larwood remained in Germany with the MFAA until 1950.

Upon his return to Atlanta, Larwood became an avid collector of items related to Georgia history. In 1956 part of his personal library, considered to be one of the finest collections of Georgiana in existence, was exhibited at the Atlanta Public Library for thirteen months.

James Larwood died in Atlanta, Georgia on October 25, 1958.