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Monuments Men make their way to the Vatican

2014-06-05

At the height of Hitler's domination of Europe, he planned to build a monumental museum in his hometown. The only thing missing was the artwork, and Europe had plenty, especially Italy. 

The people charged with stopping him were the so-called 'Monuments Men.' American investigator Robert M. Edsel brought their story to light.

ROBERT M. EDSEL
Writer, "Monuments Men”
"All these painting the monuments officers find, some 750 paintings and sculptures that are just from the Florence museums, taken by the Nazis in Italy, and in northern Europe they find some 5,000,000 stolen paintings, drawings, church bells, stained glass from the great museums throughout Europe. So it's an epic scale story and it's taking us a while to fully get our arms around how big the story is.”

This American and British mission tracked stolen pieces across Italy and Europe, during the last years of World War II

The officers taking part in the mission included Captain Dean Keller, who taught art in Yale, and Mason Hammond, a classical studies professor at Harvard. A few even lost their lives in the mission.

ROBERT M. EDSEL
Writer, "Monuments Men”
"Two monuments officers were killed during combat. These weren't older, middle-aged scholars sitting in an office somewhere. They were on the front line doing their jobs and they paid, really, the ultimate price for trying to do the right thing.”

Some of the recovered artwork includes Leonardo Da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine,” Michaelangelo's Madonna of Bruges, and Boticelli's Allegory of Spring.

During the presentation at the Vatican Museums of the book's Italian edition, Edsel said there's much more left to investigate, and many works of art still missing.


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