By Carla Charter
During World War II the Nazis stole art from museums and private collections in the countries they invaded, such as Poland, France, The Netherlands, Eastern Europe and Italy. The art works stolen were created by the great masters of Western civilization as well lesser known artists, according to Anna Bottinelli, Senior Researcher of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art.
By 1951, the Monuments Men had successfully identified and returned five million of these pieces of art. Today, the Monument Men Foundation carries on this tradition and has returned over 30 more objects.
The foundation was founded on June 6, 2006, the anniversary of D-Day, and was created to raise worldwide awareness about the service of the Monuments Men and Women and honor them for their achievements.
In addition, they continue to complete the mission of the Monuments Men by locating and returning works of art and other cultural treasures to their rightful owners. The Foundation is also using their legacy to instill in youth the importance of respecting the cultural property of others.
“It is believed most of the artwork stolen by the Nazi’s was hidden in mines throughout Germany and Austria. Unfortunately, it is believed many of the pieces of art were destroyed. However, it is believed hundreds of thousands of pieces of art are still left to be discovered,” Bottinelli said.
The foundation’s latest recovery, in conjunction with the National World War II Museum, was the return of a 16th century Flemish tapestry to the Bavarian State Museum. This tapestry once hung in Adolf Hitler’s famed Eagle’s Nest in in Berchtesgaden, Germany .
“Almost all of the main museums in the US have works of art that were looted during WWII and then returned by the Monuments Men,” Bottinelli said. In 2014 when the “Monuments Men” movie came out, many museums created temporary exhibitions on the subject, she continued.
The foundation is also interested in recovering documents including albums which will help provide important details about the Nazi looting operation. The foundation was able to find and return five similar albums, recoveries which have been described as “the most important findings concerning WWII since the Nuremberg Trials,” Bottinelli said.
“We are absolutely hoping the recovered documents will lead to more art recoveries,” Bottinelli continued.
Those wishing to learn more about the Monument Men Foundation can visit: https://www.monumentsmenfoundation.org/
Those wishing to view missing Nazi Era artwork may visit: https://www.monumentsmenfoundation.org/join-the-hunt/most-wanted-works-of-art
Those wishing to view the missing albums can visit