Washington, DC…The National Archives welcomes the new Monuments Men film with a special featured display and expert panel discussion at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW.
Perhaps the most unlikely heroes to emerge from World War II, the Monuments Men (and women) were a multinational group of curators, art historians, and museum directors who saved artistic and cultural treasures from destruction. Trading hushed galleries and libraries for besieged European cities, the men and women of the Monuments, Fine Art, and Archives Program risked their lives to protect museums, churches, and monuments from combat. They also tracked down and recovered thousands of priceless artworks stolen by the Nazis—much of it from Jewish families—and hidden in places including salt mines and abandoned castles.
Featured Document Display: The Monuments Men
Through Wednesday, February 19, East Rotunda Gallery The “Hitler Albums”—Meticulously Documented Plunder
The Third Reich’s Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, was the main agency involved in the systematic looting of cultural treasures in Nazi-occupied countries. Hitler ordered that all looted art be brought to Germany and placed at his personal disposal. The ERR prepared a number of so-called “Hitler Albums” featuring the "best of looted art" for Hitler to view and select for his planned art museum in Linz.
After the war, the U.S. Army discovered 39 of these albums hidden at the Neuschwanstein Castle and turned them over to the Monuments Men for use in identifying art work to be restituted. These volumes, in the holdings of the National Archives, served as evidence in the Nuremburg trials to document the massive Nazi art looting operations. Until recently, it was believed that the missing ERR albums had been destroyed during the latter days of World War II. However, thanks to Robert Edsel’s efforts, additional albums have been recovered and donated to the National Archives. This album on special display was donated by Edsel in 2012. All albums in the custody of the National Archives have been digitized and can be viewed online [www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/international-resources/nara/err/].
Expert Panel Discussion: The Monuments Men with Robert Edsel
Robert Edsel has dedicated years to painstaking research about the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program—the group known as the Monuments Men—and has written several books including The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Huntin History. Edsel and a panel will discuss his books, the recent film adaptation starring George Clooney, his work as founder and chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, and the work of the Monuments Men.
The panel includes Greg Bradsher, senior archivist at the National Archives and author of Holocaust-Era Assets: A Finding Aid to Records at the National Archives at College Park, MD; Nancy Yeide, head of the Department of Curatorial Records at the National Gallery of Art; Michael Kurtz, professor at University of Maryland College of Information Studies and former Assistant Archivist for Records Services at the National Archives; and Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, President Clinton’s special representative on Holocaust-era issues. A book signing of The Monuments Men and Saving Italy will follow the program.
The Monuments Men’s Paper Trail at the National Archives
The National Archives holds millions of records created or received by the U.S. Government during and after World War II relating to the Nazi-era looted cultural assets, including the original records of the Monuments Men. These voluminous National Archives holdings document the activities and investigations of U.S. Government agencies involved in the identification and recovery of looted assets, including the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and U.S. occupation forces in Germany and Austria. The materials also include contain captured German records about looted art, including the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) card file and related photographs.
Featured Prologue Story and Blogs on The Monuments Men
Dr. Greg Bradsher, a senior archivist and World War II expert, and author of Holocaust-Era Assets: A Finding Aid to Records at the National Archives at College Park, MD, tells one story of the Monuments Men in the latest issue of the National Archives’ Prologue magazine
Bradsher shares the fascinating story of how U.S. soldiers found a cache of treasures, and called in the Monuments Men for help. The find included four caskets—with the remains of Frederick the Great, Frederick William I, and President Paul von Hindenberg and his wife. What happened to them? Bradsher has the answer.
Hi-res and public domain images relating to looted art
The National Archives Building is Metro accessible on Yellow or Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station. To verify the date and times of the program, call the National Archives Public Programs Line at: 202 357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events online.