Friday, April 18, 2014

The Monuments Men - Robert M. Edsel

The Monuments Men - Robert M. Edsel

1. Rome’s impact on Hitler: “Rome, so vast, so monumental, so redolent [indicative and recalling] of empire with its massive, columned ruins, almost certainly humbled him [Hitler].  Its splendor—not its current splendor but the reflection of ancient Rome—made Berlin seem a mere provincial outpost.  Rome was what he wanted his German capital to become.  He had been moving toward conquest for years.  Planning his subjugation of Europe, but Rome sparked the idea of empire.  Since 1936, he had been discussing with his personal architect, Albert Speer, a plan to rebuild Berlin on a massive scale. After Rome, he told Speer to build not just for today, but for the future. He wanted to create monuments that over the centuries would become elegant ruins so that a thousand years into the Reich, humankind would still be looking in awe at the symbols of his power.”  p. 10

2. Florence inspires Hitler: “Hitler found the smaller-scale Florence, the art capital of Italy, similarly inspiring.  Here, in the intimate cluster of buildings that marked the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, was the cultural heart of Europe. . .  But his destiny had finally revealed itself, He was not destined to create, [as an artist himself] but to remake.  To urge, and then rebuild.  To make an empire out of Germany, the greatest the world had ever seen.  Then strongest; the most disciplined; the most racially pure.  Berlin would be his Rome, but the true arties-emperor needed a Florence.  And he knew where to build it.  [his adopted home town of Linz, Austria.] pp. 10-11

3. The First Reich – Holy Roman Empire: “Aachen – For eleven hundred years the city, burial place of Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperor and founder of the First German Reich in AD 800, had stood as a monument to the man’s glory.  Upon its ancient foundations, Charlemagne had guilt an enduring seat of power centered on the magnificent Aachen Cathedral.”  p. 12

4. Preparation to loot: “Years earlier, Berman art scholars had begun visiting the countries of Europe, secretly preparing inventories so that when Hitler conquered each country—oh yes, he had been preparing for conquest even then—his agents would know the name and location of every important object or artistic and cultural value.”  P. 13

5. Impact of the “Blitz”: “By the end of May 1941, the bombs had killed tens of thousands of British civilians and damaged or destroyed more than a million buildings.”  P. 17

6. The Monuments Men’s call to action:  “we . . . must summon to our defense all intellectual and spiritual resources.  We must guard jealously all we have inherited form a long past, all we are capable of creating in a trying present, and all we are determined to preserve in a foreseeable future.”  Paul Sachs   pp. 20-21

7. The value of the monuments:  “These monuments are not merely pretty things, not merely valued signs of man’s creative power.  They are expressions of faith, and they stand for man’s struggle to relate himself to his past and to his God.”  George Stout   p. 23

8. Eisenhower’s order and its exceptions.  “General Dwight D. Eisenhower had issued an executive order stating that important artistic and historical sites were not to be bombed.  Monte Cassino, one of the great achievements of early Italian and Christian culture, was clearly a protected site.  Eisenhower’s order had provided exceptions. “If we have to choose between destroying a famous building and sacrificing our own men,” he wrote “then our men’s live count infinitely more and the buildings must go.”  p. 46

9. The destruction of war: “War did not come like a hurricane, Rorimer realized, destroying everything in its path.  It came like a tornado, toughing down in patches, taking with it one life while leaving the next person unharmed.”  p. 79

10. A moral difference between American and German Armies:  The Western Allies wouldn’t violate the sanctity of a cathedral; the Germans showed no such scruples.  In violation of the “Rules of Land Warfare set forth in the Hague Conventions, German snipers and observer’s regularly hid in the towers picking off troops and calling down mortar fire on advancing units.  The allies learned to call in their own concentrated fire, collapsing the towers while leaving the rest of the cathedral largely unscathed.  Rorimer didn’t know if the Allies were looking at the protected monuments lists or not, but it didn’t matter.  The army commanders understood, inherently, that some structures were worth saving.”

*11. Rorimer saves a wall – the WAY TO FIGHT A WAR: “Stop the bulldozer,” he yelled at the startled engineer, who no doubt had spent the last few days knocking down other walls at the damaged chateau.  “This is a historic home.”  He held up his list of protected monuments.  “It is not to be destroyed.” 

A few minutes later, the commanding officer came stomping through the rubble.  “What’s the trouble here…Second Lieutenant.”  The mention of Rorimer’s rank, the lowest commissioned officer rank in the army, was intentional.  The Monuments Men had no authority to give orders; their role was purely advisory, and this officer knew it.

“This is a historic monument, sir. It’s not to be damaged.”

The officer buttonholed the junior man—junior in rank, at least, if not in age. “We have a war to win here, Lieutenant. My job in that war is to see that this road goes through.”

The officer turned to leave.  In his mind, the conversation was over, but James Rorimer was a bulldog: short, squarely built, and not afraid of a challenge.  Through persistence and hard work he had advanced to the highest levels of the Metropolitan Museum, America’s greatest cultural institution, in less than ten years.  He had that potent mixture of ambition and belief: in himself and in his mission. He had no practice in failure, and he had no intention of starting now.

“I’ve photographed this wall for an official report.”

The officer stopped and turned around.  The cheek of this bastard.  Who did he think he was?  Rorimer held out a copy of Eisenhower’s proclamation on monuments and war.  “Only in the event of necessity, sir.  Supreme Commander’s orders.  Do you want to spend the reason of your tour explaining why this demolition was a military necessity, not a convenience?”

The officer stared the little man in the eye.  He looked like a soldier, but damned if he didn’t act like a fool.  Didn’t this screwball know there was a war on?  But he could see, just looking at James Rorimer, that it was no use.  “Okay,” the officer grumbled, signaling the bulldozer back from the wall,  “but this is a helluva way to fight a war.”

Rorimer thought about the abbey of St. Sauveur-le-Vicomte, where he had found American GIs feeding children out of their rations.  The soldiers had been camped out in the rain, ordered out of the monks’ warm, dry beds by a combat general who understood the historic and cultural value of the abbey.  That general probably wasn’t too popular with the troops, but Rorimer knew it was men like that who won the respect of the French.

“I disagree, sir,” Rorimer said to the officer at Comte de Germigny.  “I think this is exactly the way to fight a war.”  pp. 80-81

12. Leadership traits:  “Stout was a leader,” Craig Hugh Smyth, a later arrival to the Monuments Men, once wrote of him, “quite, unselfish, modest, yet very strong, very thoughtful, and remarkablyi8nnovative.  Whether speaking or writing, he was economical with words, precise, vivid.  One believed what he said; one wanted to do what he proposed.”  p. 88

13. The Germans as seen by George Stout: “From here, now, they do not look like a simple innocent people with criminal leaders.  They look like criminals.   And I wonder how long it will take to get them to live fairly with the rest of the world.”  p. 95

14. On Patton and the Third Army:  “It was an honor to serve in Patton’s Third, the finest fighting force on the European continent.  The truth is that Robert Posey felt much closer to the men of the Third than he ever had to his fellow Monuments Men. And he had quickly adopted their pride, brotherhood, and private exasperation that the other Allied armies had yet to admit their obvious superiority.  They were the army that broke the “Ring of Steel” in Normandy.  They were the army that had closed the Falaise Pocket, cutting off the last German retreat from western France.  They were the army leading the charge on the southern flank, while the other armies straggled somewhere behind them to the north.  If Eisenhower had just turned Third Army loose sooner, they might have already ended the war.  There wasn’t a man in Third Army who doubted that.  They were confident, and it was all because of the man in the big tent, General George S. Patton Jr.  Sure, he was belligerent, arrogant, and at times damn near crazy, but Posey would do anything for the man.”  pp. 113-114

15. The Ghent Altarpiece – The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb:  The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb more commonly referred to as the Ghent Altarpiece, was Belgium’s most important and beloved artistic treasure.  Almost twelve feet high and sixteen feet wide, it consisted of two rows of hinged wood panels: four in the center, and four on each wing. . . The images on each panel, even the minor ones, were rendered with extraordinary attention to every detail, from the faces of eh human figures, which were based on real fifteenth-century Flemish people, to buildings, landscape, vegetation, fabrics, jewels, robes, and materials as well.  This detailed realism, based on the skilled use of oil paint, was like nothing the art world had ever seen.  It would transform painting and usher in the Northern Renaissance, a golden age of Cutch culture that rivaled the Italian Renaissance farther south.”  p. 116

16. Hitler’s plans for and methods of stealing:  “Hitler and the Nazis had gone to great lengths to establish new laws and procedures to “legalize” the looting activities that would follow.  This included forcing the conquered countries to give him certain works as a term of their surrender. Eastern European countries like Poland were destined under Hitler’s plan to become industrial and agricultural wastelands, were Slavic slaves would produce consumer goods for the master race.  Most of their cultural icons were destroyed; their great buildings leveled; their statues pulled down and melted into bullets and artillery shells.  But the West was Germany’s reward, a place for Aryans to enjoy the fruits of their conquest.  There was no need to strip such countries of their artistic treasures—at least not right away.  The Third Reich, after al would last a thousand years.  Hitler left works of comparable stature to the Ghent Altarpiece, such and the Mona Lisa and The Night Watch, untouched, even though he knew exactly were they were hidden.  But he coveted the Lamb.”   p. 117

17. The Good Nazi: “Jaujard [The French hero who saved his nation’s art] had worked closely with Count Wolff-Metternich on the ambassador affair—much closer than he had acknowledged—and he would continue to work with him through a long string of Nazi attempts to seize the patrimony of France.  An official charged with confiscation French government documents also tried to confiscate movable artwork.  Other Nazis claimed the artwork was stored improperly at the repositories, and therefore needed to be moved to Germany for its own safety.  Wolff-Metternich refuted that claim with personal inspection.  Dr. Joseph Goebbels demanded almost one thousand “Germanic” objects held in the French state collection.  Wolff-Metternich actually agreed with Goebbels that many of these objects rightly belonged to Germany; he did not agree with the propaganda minister that they should be sent immediately to the Fatherland.  “I never hid my idea that this delicate problem,” he wrote, “which touches the sense of honor of all people so deeply, could only be solved at the Peace Conference by a full agreement between peoples with equal rights.”

“He risked his position, maybe even his life,” Jaujard had told Rorimer during a previous meeting praising the Kunstschutz official.  “He opposed Goebbels the only way possible, through a strict interpretation of the Fuhrer’s order of July 15, 1940, which prohibited the movement of artwork in Franc until the signing of a peace treaty.  The order was meant to keep us French patriots from hiding artwork before the Nazis could claim it, but Wolff-Metternich quite cleverly applied the order to his fellow Germans as well.  Without that principled stand, there would have been no hope.” p. 128

18. Description of destruction: “One can read all kinds of descriptions of he destruction caused by air raids, and see any number of pictures, but the sensation of being in one of these dead cities just can’t be imagined.” The rubble was twenty feet high, the side streets long claustrophobic corridors of broken, gap-toothed facades.  Occasional phantoms flashed by—a grope of marauding Belgians, and American soldier on horseback wearing a full Native American headdress taken from the city opera company.  Did I really see that?  Hancock wondered, as the smoky world swallowed the rider.  The city disintegrated, great chunks of concrete falling down around him.  He looked through the face of a building, roofless and empty, showing in broken concrete frames little pieces of the sky.  The windows were shattered, the floors inside collapse.  “A skeleton city,” he would later comment, “is more terrible than one the bombs have completely flattened.  Aachen was a skeleton.”  p. 142

19. Life of a Soldier: “Hancock noticed men gathering out of the shadows.  These were infantrymen, young soldiers drafted right out of school, the first into the fight.  For months they had been shot at, mined, counterattacked, and shelled.  They bathed out of their helmets, or not at all, and ate out of ration tins, wiping their spoons on their pants.  Their billet had been destroyed, so they threw themselves down wherever they could find a comfortable spot. p. 153

20. On the value of Art, George Stout: “I don’t believe I’ve ever been more certain than I am now that the development and understanding of man’s workmanship is the fundamental need of man’s spirit; or that we can never look for a healthy social body until that need. Among others, is fed.  I hope to put in the rest of my life really working at that job.”  p.153

21. On General Patton: “He [Robert Posey] met with General George S. Patton Jr., the greatest fighting man in the U.S. Army.  A man who when you called him a bastard—and every men in Third Army sometimes did—you did so with admiration.  p. 169

**22. All the History of WW II in one letter to a little boy:  “Letter from Robert Posey to his young son “Woogie” November 29, 1944.  Dear Dennis: I am sure you would like to have this Third Army Christmas card all for yourself.  I hope you received the Third Army shoulder patch I sent you about two months ago in a letter. 

The card shows our tanks breaking through the German lines in Normandy, crashing through into Brittany, racing across Franc and now headed for Berlin.  I have been here to see it all and we are so very strong that I am sure it will not be too very long until we are in Berlin.

All of this is very spectacular and dramatic but it is also bad for it causes great suffering to people who live where the actual fighting is going on.  It also takes soldiers away from their homes and causes them to become tough and sometimes bitter. 

Germany started this war by invading one small country after another until finally Franc and England had to declare war on her.  We helped France and England but didn’t start fighting.  Then suddenly Japan attacked us and Germany declared war on us at the same time.  And so we had to fight, painfully at first for we were unprepared.  Now we are strong; England is strong; Russia, who was attacked by Germany is strong; Italy who fought with Germany has been defeated by us and has sung over to our side; France who was defeated by Germany but liberated by us is building a powerful army.  Greece, Belgium, and part of Holland have been liberated and are helping us; China is painfully shaking off the treacherous Japanese yoke. 

And so, there are the reasons that I think we will soon defeat Germany and Japan and teach them such a lesson that when you and other little boys like you grow up you will not have to fight them all over again.  And I hope no other country will start a fight to get its way for wars are bad.

Realizing all of this helps me to be satisfied with being away from you and Momie this Christmas.  I hope that you have a wonderful time with lots of nice presents.  Please take my place and buy Momie nice presents for her birthday anniversary and Christmas.

Good bye for now with love.

Bob” pp. 171-172

23. The excesses of Reichsmarschall Hermann Goring:  “The obsequious ERR officials toasted his tastes and his triumphs, then followed on his heels, hungering for his every compliment and laughing at his foolish jokes.  And the kingpin adored the attention, for Hermann Goring, the Nazi Reichsmarschall and Hitler’s second in command, was a vain and greedy man.

Rose Valland [French woman who was a hero of the rescue of French Art] knew she would always remember his excesses.  He had dozens of specially tailored uniforms, most with gold stitching and braided silk, each with more epaulettes, tassels, and medals than the last.  He carried emeralds in his pockets and jingled them with his fingers like other people jingle loose change.  He drank only the finest champagne.  When he came to rifle the Rothschild jewelry collection in March 1941, he took the two finest pieces and simply shoved them in his pocket, like he was shop-lifting licorice whips.  When he stole larger works of art, he simply added another railcar to the back of his private train and hauled it away, like Caesar hauling the spoils of war behind his imperial chariot.  On the way to Berlin, he would lounge in an enormous red silk kimono weighed down with heavy gold trim.  Every morning, he would luxuriate in his red marble bathtub, built extra wide to contain his girth.  He hated the rocking of the train.  It made his bathwater slop.  When Reichsmarschall Goring was in his bath, his train stopped on the tricks.  This, in turn, forced the stopping of every other train in the nearby rail system.  Only after the Reichsmarschall had bathed could the shipments of armaments, equipment, and soldiers proceed to their various destinations.    p. 198

24. Rose Valland – her courage, accomplishments, and enormous value:  “As attaché for the jeu de Paume, Valland had the right of passage into the Louver.  She knew her homely looks, carefully cultivated during those years, allowed her to slip past the guards without being searched.

In later yers, as her fear subsided, she began to accept the risk.  The shipping manifests, train numbers and addresses were too hard to memorize, so she began to take notes. Then she began to take them home at night so she could copy them down, always returning them to their files before the Nazis arrived the next morning.  She trolled for information from packers, secretaries, and Nazi officers.  She memorized over herd conversations, the Nazis never suspecting that she understood German.  The Nazis were fastidious about documentation; they reported and photographed everything.  She filched and then developed negatives at night, so she had photographs of them all: Hofer, von Behr, Lohse, and Goring studying looted art.  She even had the watchman’s logbook.  She had information on everyone who had come and gone through those closed halls.  And she had lists: lf artworks, of train cars, of destinations.

It had cost her so much.  Years of sleepless nights. Weeks of terror, subsiding to the dull knowledge that she might never make it out of the occupation alive.  Could she really share ever thing she had learned and gathered with an officer of the U.S. Army.  p. 202

25. Flags and banners: “What he [Harry Ettlinger] really noticed, though, were the flags.  Every factory, and almost every house, flew an American flag. In the residential areas, almost every window also displayed a white banner featuring a blue star and a red border.  The banner meant someone in the house hold was in the service.  If the banner featured a gold star and a yellow border, someone in that household had been killed inaction. P. 210

26. On becoming a solider:  “Like every other young man in the spring of 1944, Harry Ettlinger was going to join the army, be sent overseas, and become a proud, disciplined, terrified soldier.”  p. 210

27. Lincoln Kirstein on types of Nazis: “There is not one type of German, went the thought. There are many who were never Nazis, but remained silent out of fear.  Nor is there one type of Nazi.  There are those who went along to survive, or for career advancement, or out of a sheepish devotion to the status quo.  Then there are the hardcases, the true believers.  It is possible we will find what we are looking for only when the last true believer is dead.  pp. 228-229

28. Stout’s fears of what could be lost:  “What if we win the war, he thought, but lose the last five hundred years of our cultural history on our watch?” p. 237

29. Stout’s opinion of Germans:  “In think they are immature, mean, and scheming at the top, and immature and incredibly stupid at the bottom.”  p. 237

30. From Hitler’s “Nero Decree”:  “ Therefore, I order: 1. All military, transportation, communications, industrial and food-supply facilities, as well as all resources within the Reich which the enemy might use either immediately or in the foreseeable future for continuing the war, are to be destroyed.” p. 251 

31. The destruction and preservation of Germany:  “The only thing standing was the cathedral, the Dom, untouched in the middle of a wasteland.  It should have been an inspiring sight, and example of Western Allied compassion, but Hancock couldn’t see it that way.  The scale of the destruction –the brutality of the Allied campaign to break the German will—was painful to contemplate.  It was almost as if there was a message in the madness.  We could have spared any building, the untouched cathedral seemed to imply.  This is the one we chose. 

. . . The thought came back to him, as it often did: To save the culture of your allies is a small thing.  To cherish the culture of your enemy, to risk your life and the life of other men to save it, to give it all back to them as soon as the battle was won . . . it was unheard of, but that is exactly what Walker Hancock and the other Monuments Men intended to do.

The treasure of Aachen lay out there somewhere.  It was his duty to find them. But he wouldn’t drive himself like this, he knew, just for duty.  Success took conviction, a belief that the Monuments mission was not only right, but necessary.   It couldn’t be just a duty; it had to be a passion.  And the more Hancock saw of destruction, the more passionate he became.  pp. 254-255

32. The fate of Karl Marx home:  “The home of Karl Marx, who was born in Trier in 1818, had been turned into a newspaper office by the Nazis.  The Allies flattened it in an aerial bombardment.”  p. 261

33. Value of Educating soldiers:  “Posey and Kirstein immediately set out to educate the soldiers on the wonders of the city.  Posey’s pervious historical notes on Nancy and Metz had proven popular, so by the time Third Army reached Trier, he had Kirstein had compiled a treatise on the history and importance of the city and its buildings.  They feared the troops, having crossed into enemy territory, would be less careful with the historic monuments and more inclined to casual looting.  By educating them about a grander, pre-Nazi German culture, the Monuments Men hoped to create interest and appreciation, which would translate into good behavior. 

. . . The model established in Trier—education coupled with local participation—would be used by the Monuments Men of ‘Third Army for the rest of the campaign.”  p. 262

34. The treasures of Aachen – recovered:  “Hancock ran his hands over the wood.  Inside were the silver-gilt bust of Charlemagne containing part of his skull, the Virgin Mary’s robe, Lothar’s processional cross set with the cameo of Augustus Caesar, numerous gilt and wrought metal shrines, Carefully, slid the lid off and unmarked crate.  Inside was the twelfth-century shrine of Saint Heribert of Deutz.”  pp. 281-281 

35. Gold and other treasures:  “. . . Major Perera, an officer sent by Third Army to examine the gold and currency.  Perera reported and initial count of 8,198 gold bars, 711 bags of American twenty dollar gold pieces, over 1,300 bags of other gold coins, hundreds of bags of foreign currency, and $2.76 billion in Reichsmarks, along with various foreign currencies, silver and platinum, and the stamping plates the German government used to print money.”  pp. 290-291

36. SS loot:  “Other rooms, reserved for the SS, were crammed with gold and silver platters and vases, all flattened with hammer blows to make them easier to store.  Entire trunks were filled with jewelry, watches, silverware, clothing, eyeglasses, and gold cigarette cases, the last vestiges of an enormous hoard the SS had not yet been able to smelt.  There were eight bags of gold rings, many of them wedding bands. A soldier opened another bag and lifted out a handful of gold fillings.  They had been pulled from the teeth of Holocaust victims.”  p. 295

37. Death in the slave labor camp:  “Ohrdruf [first Nazi work camp liberated by American troops.] was not a death camp, like Auschwitz, where ‘undesirables” were sent for extermination, but a place where human beings were systematically worked to death.  In silence, the generals and their staff officers walked the camp. “The smell of death overwhelmed us,” General Bradley wrote, “even before we passed through the stockade.  More thatn 3,200 naked, emaciated bodies had been flung in shallow graves.  Others lay in the streets where they had fallen.  Lice crawled over the yellow skin o their sharp, bony frames.  A[n Allied] guard showed us how the blood had congealed in coarse black scabs where the starving prisoners had torn out the entrails of the dead for food. . . . I was too revolted to speak.  For here death had been so fouled by degradation that it both stunned and numbed us.”  p. 295

38. The details in the art of the great masters, Ghent Altarpiece and Vermeer’s Astronomer:  “He [Karl Sieber] circled the panel so that he could look into the face of Saint John.  What humanity in those old eyes!  What skill at invoking the most exacting details!  Every hair was painted with a single brushstroke form a single bristle.  He could almost feel the folds fo the cloak, the vellum of the Bible, the sadness and awe in the old saint’s eyes. 

. . . So he turned to The Astronomer, painted by Jan Vermeer in 1668, almost two hundred and fifty years after the Ghent Altarpiece, but still showing the same delicacy of brushwork and attention to the most precise detail.”  p. 325

39. Hitler’s thefts on record:  “But the next room was lined with filing cabinets containing photographs, catalogues, and records.  There was a catalogue care for every confiscation undertaken by the ERR in France—more that 21,000 confiscations in all, including shipments that had gone to other repositories.  It was evidence of much of the Nazis had stolen from Western Europe; and as Rose Valland had understood when she told him [Rorimer] about the importance of Neuschwanstein, it was absolutely essential to identifying and getting it all back home. 

40. Soviet Thefts:  “On May 1. Soviet troops had overrun the Zoo Flaktower, looking for gold, Hitler’s body, and other high-ranking Nazis.  They had found only wounded soldiers and civilians, laid out by desperate doctors atop crates that contained carved reliefs form the Pergamon Altar, the treasure of ancient Tory (known collectively as Priam’s Gold) and countless other masterpieces.  By May 4, the wounded had been evacuated and the flack tower was under the control of Stalin’s Trophy Brigades, which were in charge of transporting anything of value (from art to food and machinery) to the Soviet Union as unofficial restitutions in kind for the devastation incurred at the hands of the Nazis.  The Trophy Brigades immediately began organizing the contents for transport east; within a month, the tower was largely empty.”  pp. 353-354

41. Treasures lost to Soviet incompetence:  “But the treasures were by no means safe, for on the night of May 5 a fire broke out in the tower.  The remaining foodstocks and art works stored on the first floor were destroyed.

. . . While the Trophy Brigades worked at the Zoo Flaktower, the Friedrichshain Flaktower was left to the usual assortment of desperate scavengers.  It wasn’t long before a second fire broke out, more extensive than the first.  The contents—sculpture, porcelain, books, and the 434 paintings, including one by Botticelli, one by van Dyke, three by Caravaggio, ten by Rubens, and five by Hermann Goring’s favorite artist, Lucas Cranach the Elder—were assumed destroyed, the latest victims of the void.  pp. 354-355

42. The success of Patton’s Third Army:  Third Army had destroyed an entire German army east of the Mosell River, jumped the Rhine, and broken the enemy’s spirit with its deep thrusts into the German heartland.  Wasn’t it Third Army that led the charge across France?  That had broken the unbreakable citadel at Metz?  That had scoured the industrial regions of south-central Germany?  And wasn’t it he [Robert Posey] and Lincoln Kirstein, Third Army men, who had discovered not just the existence but the location of Hitler’s treasure room?  p. 356

43. On the power of objects of beauty:  “We do not want to destroy unnecessarily what men spent so much time and care and skill in making . . . [for] these examples of craftsmanship tell us so much about our ancestors. . . . If these things are lost or broken or destroyed, we lose a valuable part of our knowledge about our forefathers.  No age lives entirely alone; every civilization is formed not merely by its own achievements but by what it has inherited from the past.  I these things are destroyed, we have lost a part of our past, and we shall be the poorer for it.” 

British Monuments man Ronald Balfour, draft lecture for soldiers, 1944

“All the works of art for whose fate we still tremble will return to us, bringing the light of their beauty to attract, as before, pilgrims from every country and to inspire thoughts of peace.”

 –Dr. Ceasre Fasola, Uffize librarian, The Florence Galleries and the War p. 370

44. Mein Kampf told it all:  “Monuments Man S. Lane Faison JR. Once commented that Hitler “wrote a book called Mein Kampf.  And if people had just read it carefully, every single thing that’s happened was already predicted . . . the whole Jewish situation is there in clear writing in ink.”  The same is true for most of his other actions.  Hitler’ Nero Decree of March 19, 1945, simply formalized everything he had preached and done over the previous two decades, empowering his followers to unleash the violence and fury of his reign.” p. 374

45. Treasure hidden in the mountains heart:  “The monuments men backtracked and, by way of half-hidden, pitch-black tunnels, were able to maneuver around the bomb blast.  A guide led them deep into the cold heart of the mountain, past branching passageways, to a lorge rock-vaulted chamber.  Their torchlight, swinging into the gloom, illuminated rack after rack of plain pine boxes filled with some of the world’s great artistic masterpieces before falling, finally, on the milky white surfaced of Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna.  She was lying on her side on a filthy brown-and-white-striped mattress, almost assuredly the very same mattress onto which she had been pushed just days before British Monuments Man Ronald Balfour had arrived in Bruges eight months earlier.  Monuments Man Thomas Carr Howe Jr. (who arrived in June) would later write, “the light of our lamps played over the soft folds of the Madonna’s robe, the delicate modeling of her face,  Her grave eyes looked down, seemed only half aware of the sturdy Child nestling close against her, one had firmly held in hers.”  A few days later, in a deep chamber, the Monuments Men discovered the remaining four panels of the Ghent Altarpiece, Vermeer’s The Artist’ Studio, and, farther into the dark recesses of the chamber, the Rothschild family’s Vermeer, The Astronomer.  p. 383

46. What was in the Altaussee mine:  “6577 paintings, 230 drawings or watercolors, 954 prints, 137 pieces sculpture, 129 baskets of objects, 484 cases objects thought to be archives, 78 pieces furniture, 122 tapestries, 181 case books, 1220-1700 cases apparently gooks or similar, 283 cases contents completely unknown.” p. 384

47. Truman caves to the Russians: Ten days later, on June 25, Stout received grave news, President Harry Truman had knuckled under to Stalin.  The Western Allies would not be holding their conquered territory, but instead falling back to the post war boundaries determined by the Big Three (Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin) at the Yalta Conference in February.  The Monuments Men would not have a year to remove the treasures form Altaussee, as Stout had assumed.  They had until July 1. Four days. p. 385

48. What was stolen – found in 1000 repositories:  “In the end, the Western Allies discovered more than one thousand repositories in southern Germany alone, containing millions of works of art and other cultural treasures, including church bells, stained glass, religious items, municipal records, manuscripts, gooks, libraries, wine, gold, diamonds, and even insect collections.”  p. 399

49. Hitler’s legacy:  “More than sixty years after the death of Adolf Hitler, we still live in a world altered by his legacy.  . . . But the lasting impact of his bitter reign is best measure in more ephemeral ways, fifty million loved ones who never returned home from the war to rejoin their families or start one of their own; brilliant, creative contributions never made to our world because scientists, artists, and inventor lost their lives too early or were never born; cultures built over generation reduced to ashes and rubble because one human being judge groups of other human being less worth than his own.  p. 403

50. Jecques Jaujard: Meanwhile, in France Jacques Jaujard was hailed as a national hero for his role in protecting the state collections from the Nazis.  He was named a Commander of the Legion of Honor, received the Medal of Resistance and was promoted to the secretary-general of cultural affairs in the post-occupation French government of Andre Malraus.” p. 410 


51.  The Good Nazi:  “Count Franz von Wolff-Metternich, the German Kunstschutz official who aided Jaujard in thwarting the Nazis, was also hailed as a hero by the French.  After the war, he helped the Western Allies restitute German art.  He then worked in the Foreign Office of West Germany tracking looted works.  In 1952, Metternich became director of the esteemed Hertziana Library in Rome, a German library once confiscated by Hitler.  He died in 1978.” p. 411

52. Rose Valland:  “Rose Valland, Jaujard’s collaborator, continued her forceful advocacy on behalf of the French cultural patrimony long after James Rorimer’s departure form Pair. 

. . . For her efforts, Rose Valland received the French Legion of Honor Medal of Resistance.  She was made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, making her one of the most decorated women in France.  She also received a Medal for Freedom from the United States in 1948 and an Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany.  in 1953, after twenty years of service to the French cultural establishment, she was finally awarded the position of “curator.”  pp. 411-412

53. Robert Posey:  “on August 21, 1945, the Ghent Altarpiece left the Munich Collection Point for Belgium. It was the most important piece of art-work stolen by the Germans, and therefore the first returned.    A special airplane was chartered, and the twelve panels of the altarpiece strapped down in the passenger compartment.  There was only room one other passenger: Monuments Man Robert Posey.

. . . When he arrived back at U.S. Third Army headquarters after a brief stay in Paris, the commanding officer gave him his reward: the Order of Leopold, one of Belgium’s’ highest honors. . . he was later awarded the French Legion of Honor.

. . . By 1946, Posey had resumed his work as an architect, and began his career at the prominent firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.  As a senior associate, he worked on such notable projects as the Union Carbide building and Lever House in New York, and the Sears Tower in Chicago.  He retired in 1974 and died in 1977.  pp. 414 – 415

54. Lincoln Kirstein: . . . returned to American in September 1945 . . . In 1946, he and his partner, the choreographer George Balanchine, established a new dance troupe, the Ballet Society (renamed the New York City Ballet in 1948), one of the most influential dance companies of the twentieth century.  Kirstein served as its general director until 1989.

. . . By the end of his life, Lincoln Kirstein was widely considered one of the major cultural figures of his generation, and perhaps its greatest patron of the arts.  “He was one of those rare talents who touch the entire artistic life of their time,” wrote critic Clement Crisp.  “Ballet, film, literature, theatre, painting, sculpture, photography all occupied his attention.”  In 1984, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan.  He also received the National Medal of Arts (1985), and, with Balanchine, the National Gold Medal of Merit Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters.  Lincoln Kirstein died in 1996 at the age of eighty-eight.” pp. 415-416

55. Walker Hancock: “. . . left Europe in late 1945, after establishing the Marburg Collection Point. He returned home and built the house that he had spent so many months dreaming of while at war, and he and his new wife Saima lived and worked in Gloucester, Massachusetts, for the rest of their lives.  He resumed teaching at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, remaining there until 1967.  He also continued to be a sought-after sculptor, and his works include such monumental piece as the famous carving of confederate generals on the side of Stone Mountain outside Atlanta, Georgia.  His most enduring work may be the Pennsylvania War Memorial, located in the 30th Street train station in Philadelphia. Completed in 1952, the piece is a tribute to the thirteen hundred railroad employees who died in World War II, and depicts a soldier lifted by Michael, the archangel of resurrection.  One of his last pieces was the official bust of President George H. W. Bush.”  p. 416

56. James Rorimer: “. . . stayed in Europe until early 1946 as the chief of U. S. Seventh Army/Western Military District MFAA.  He then returned to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, becoming director of the Cloisters, home of the Met’s medieval art collection which as a young curator he had helped establish and build. . . . In 1955, James Rorimer, tenacious and hardworking as ever, succeeded Roberts Commission member Francis Henry Taylor to one of the highest positions in the American museum world: director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

57. The two who died:  “By thesummerof1946, only two of the original group of Monuments Men remained on the continent: the two who had died there.

Walter “Hutch” Huchthausen, killed in western Germany, was buried in the U.S. military cemetery at Margraten, Holland.  He is a great loss.  Watler Hancock’s observtion that “the few people who saw him at his job—friend and enemy—must think more of the human race because of him” had proved true.

Ronald Balfour was buried in the British cemetery outside Cleves, Bermany.  In 1954, his photograph was placed in the city’s restored archives building beside a plaque reading, “Major Ronald E. Balfour, Lector in King’s College of the University of Cambridge, died in action March 1945 near Kloster Spyck.  This gentleman saved as British Monument Officer precious medieval archives and items of lower Rhine towns.  Honor to his memory.”  Pp. 418-419

58. George Stout: He left Europe for the United States in late July 1945, but only for a two-month leave. He had requested and receive a transfer to the Pacific theater.  He arrived in Japan in October 1945, where he served as chief of the Arts and Monuments Division at Headquarters of the Supreme Command for the Allied Powers, Tokyo,  He left Japan in mid01946.  For his years of service, Stout received the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal.

After his tour in Japan, Stout returned briefly to Harvard’s Fogg Museum.  In 1947, he became director of the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts, where he served until becoming director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The Gardner Museum, which had a static collection, was the ideal job for George Stout.

. . . Neither really gets to the truth of Stout’s contributions, or to the esteem and love his fellow Monuments Men felt for him.  Their letters and memoirs were full of praise for this tireless, efficient, and likable officer, but Lincoln Kirstein put it best because he put it most bluntly, “[George Stout] was the greatest war hero of all time—he actually saved all the art that everybody else talked about.”pp. 420-421




No comments: