Marcellus Benjamin Keezer (1903-1993)
Marcellus Benjamin Keezer was a Netherlands Art Representative for the MFAA Branch of the Office of Military Government for Greater Hesse. Stationed at the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, Keezer served first as the deputy of Monuments Man Hans L. C. Jaffé, the Dutch Commissioner General for Restitutions. Keezer eventually replaced Jaffé in 1947 when the latter resumed his work as curator at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
Keezer determinedly investigated works of art, archives, cultural objects, and even furniture that the Nazis looted from the Netherlands. He spent much of his time in the field, following every lead and visiting numerous repositories for looted art. One humorous example of his apparent haste is a November 1947 parking ticket he received for leaving his vehicle in a restricted zone outside Military Government headquarters in Wiesbaden. Through determination and skilled detective work, Keezer secured the return of hundreds of Dutch-owned works of art and cultural objects, including a pair of settees belonging to the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam, which he located in a barn near Hungen, Germany. Other items he found included antique desks of drawers, bronze sculptures of Buddha, and numerous paintings. In May 1947 he undertook an investigation in Maulbronn, Germany, where he discovered a collection of paintings in watercolor and oil, many of which were Dutch-owned. The paintings had been stolen from the Netherlands by the Gestapo and handed over to Nazi art dealers Wilhelm and Anny Ettle.
In February 1948, Keezer received a telegram from the Netherlands Recuperation Service informing him that his post would soon be terminated. Keezer was filled with alarm. While many of the most high profile works of art had long since been returned to Amsterdam, Keezer knew firsthand that much work remained unfinished. He appealed to his superiors, stressing the continued need for Netherlands Art Representatives in Wiesbaden. Due in large part to his efforts, Keezer’s post was later filled by Capt. Leo S. Bannet.
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