The Monuments Men

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Walter Stiner ( 1909 - 1996 )

Walter Stiner was born in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Germany on January 6, 1909. At the age of nineteen he immigrated to the United States to pursue his dream of becoming an artist in New York City. Like many hopeful foreigners who came to America seeking opportunity, Stiner realized this dream, acquiring years of art experience which helped prepare him for work as a Monuments Man.

Stiner enlisted in the U.S. Army in May 1941. His fluency in German, familiarity with his home country, and passion for art caught the attention of the MFAA in October 1945. By this time, the MFAA had settled into the seemingly insurmountable postwar task of locating, removing to safety, restoring, and restituting millions of looted works of art, archives, and cultural objects to the countries from which they had been stolen. Stiner was recruited to assist in efforts at the Munich Central Collecting Point, where he worked alongside Monuments Men Edwin C. Rae, Lt. Frank P. Albright, Edgar Breitenbach, and many foreign restitution officers.

Stiner served as the assistant to Monuments Man Edwin C. Rae, Chief of the MFAA Section of the Office of Military Government for Bavaria and one of the officers most responsible for the smooth running of the collecting point. In addition, Stiner worked in the field as an MFAA Investigating Officer. Stiner inspected many houses, castles, and estates suspected of being art repositories. At each location, he questioned the proprietor and confiscated any works of art with dubious origin for transfer to the Munich Central Collecting Point for further investigation. In May 1946 Stiner was responsible for the discovery of an ancient collection of over 300 Celtic coins belonging to the Burgenländischen Landschaftsmuseum in Eisenstadt, Austria. The following February, he stopped the illegal sale of a group of paintings taken from Nymphenburg Palace in Munich.

Stiner worked to locate looted objects until June 1947, when he was honorably discharged. Upon returning to New York City, he resumed his career in art. He died on March 14, 1996. The Foundation is very interested in learning more about Walter Stiner’s life. If you have any information, please contact