Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Guest Blog by: Michele Drier

The death of a prominent senator in a nearby town inspires Amy Hobbes to learn more about the man and his family, with a plan in the back of her mind to write a book about him that just might get her out of small town news. Amy's investigation drops her right into the middle of an international mystery involving stolen art, WW2, and reclamation efforts. Michele Drier is our guest blogger today, writing more about art and precious items confiscated by the Nazis, and in some cases, later stolen by soldiers. 



The Rape of Europa
  
In 1943, Franklin Roosevelt approved a group of museum curators and art specialists as “The American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas,” a group of men who became known as the Monuments Men.

Even this early in the war, it was clear that the Nazis were systematically looting museums and art collections throughout Europe.  Millions of people met their death during the Nazi era, both in war and in extermination camps, but they weren’t the only victims of this horror.  It’s estimated that 20 percent of all known art in Europe at the beginning of Hitler’s rise was stolen by the Nazis.

Much of this stolen art was shipped to Germany and leading Nazis, including Goering, built huge collections of pieces taken from Europe’s Jews as well as museums and private collections all across Europe. Not only Western Europe; pieces from The Hermitage, one of Russia’s premiere museums, also disappeared.  One treasure that has never been found or recovered is Catherine the Great’s Amber Room from the Summer Palace, a room whose walls were constructed completely of amber.

The Monuments Men wrapped up their work on December 31, 1948 but recovery has continued for the past 60-odd years.

In 2006, one of the most stunning pieces, Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Ada Bloch-Bauer” was finally returned to the sole surviving family member of the Viennese family who lost it to the Nazis in 1938.  Also, in February 2006, the Dutch government returned 202 old master paintings to the heir of an art dealer whose collections was forcibly sold to the Nazis in 1940.

And less than two years ago, The Associated Press reported, “A panel has recommended that seven paintings by Austrian artists contained in a prestigious Vienna art collection be returned because they were either seized by the Nazis or given up against the will of their Jewish owners.” – Associated Press story,  Nov. 23, 2010.

The Nazi-hunter Henry Blomberg, in Edited for Death, came to this world of looted art several years after the end of the war and for him the quest was personal. His family in Heidelberg was one of the hundreds of thousands Jewish families to lose their lives and possessions to the Nazi onslaught. As the sole survivor of his family, it’s his search for a lost da Vinci drawing that leads him to help unravel both an act of cowardice and an act of heroism that propelled a young GI to the height of political power in the United States.

These shadowy causalities of the war and the Nazi’s greed have been documented in a movie about the Monument Men and their search for treasures—“The Rape of Europa”.
Although not all stolen pieces will never be found, by keeping the story of Nazi theft green, even 60 or 70 years later some of the art may be returned to its rightful owners.

For further information on the Monuments Men and stolen art go to http://www.rapeofeuropa.com/

Visit Michele Drier's website at www.micheledrier.com
Contact her at mjdrier@gmail.com

Get your copy of Edited for Death now from Amazon in Kindle or Paperback