December 10, 2009
World War II Veteran had Adolf Hitler's Art Book on His Shelf
After fighting his way across Europe during World War II, John Pistone was among the U.S. soldiers who entered Adolf Hitler's home nestled in the Bavarian Alps as the war came to a close.
Making his way through the Berghof, Hitler's home near Berchtesgaden, Germany, Pistone noticed a table with shelves underneath. Exhilarated by the certainty of victory over the Nazis, Pistone took an album filled with photographs of paintings as a souvenir.
"It was really a great feeling to be there and we knew, by that time, he was on his last leg," Pistone told The Associated Press.
Sixty-four years after Pistone brought the album home to Ohio, the 87-year-old has learned its full significance: It's part of a series compiled for Hitler featuring art he wanted for his "Fuhrermuseum," a planned museum in Linz, Austria, Hitler's hometown.
Pistone's album is expected to be formally returned to Germany in a ceremony at the U.S. State Department in January. Germany has 19 other albums discovered at the Berchtesgaden complex that are part of a 31-album collection of works either destined for or being considered for the Linz museum.
Pistone's 3-inch thick, 12-pound album's journey from obscurity began this fall when a friend became curious about the book sitting on Pistone's bookshelf.