The Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program under the Civil Affairs and Military Government Sections of the Allied armies was established in 1943 to help protect cultural property in war areas during and after World War II. The group of about 400 servicemembers and civilians worked with military forces to safeguard historic and cultural monuments from war damage, and as the conflict came to a close, to find and return works of art and other items of cultural importance that had been stolen by the Nazis or hidden for safekeeping.
Many of the men and women of the MFAA, also known as Monuments Men, went on to have prolific careers. Largely art historians and museum personnel, they had formative roles in the growth of many of the United States’ greatest cultural institutions, including the National Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the New York City Ballet, as well as in museums and other institutions in Europe.
Monuments Men: On the Frontline to Save Europe’s Art, 1942–1946
February 7 to April 20, 2014
Coming soon to Washington, D.C. at the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery
During World War II, an unlikely team of soldiers was charged with identifying and protecting European cultural sites, monuments, and buildings from Allied bombing. Officially named the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) Section, this U.S. Army unit included art curators, scholars, architects, librarians, and archivists from the U.S. and Britain. They quickly became known as The Monuments Men.
Towards the end of the war, their mission changed to one of locating and recovering works of art that had been looted by the Nazis. The Monuments Men uncovered troves of stolen art hidden across Germany and Austria—some in castles, others in salt mines. They rescued some of history’s greatest works of art.
Among the holdings of the Archives of American Art are the papers of Monuments Men George Leslie Stout, James J. Rorimer, Walker Hancock, Thomas Carr Howe, S. Lane Faison, Walter Horn, and Otto Wittman. These personal archives tell a fascinating story.
To see photos and hear interviews: http://www.aaa.si.edu/exhibitions/monuments-men
The Monuments Men Foundation
The Monuments Men Foundation honors the legacy of the men and women who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, known as the “Monuments Men,” and their unprecedented and heroic work protecting and safeguarding civilization’s most important artistic and cultural treasures from armed conflict during World War II. Raising public awareness is essential to the Foundation’s mission and its completion of the objectives listed below.
HONORING THE HEROES:
The Foundation plans to honor all the heroes by completing biographies and obtaining photographs of all 350 or so men and women from thirteen nations and making that information public. The Foundation will also encourage those cultural and educational institutions impacted by the Monuments Men and women to honor their wartime service and professional legacy through some form of permanent on-site recognition. The Foundation is in a race against time working with members of the House of Representatives to honor the Monuments Men and women with the Congressional Gold Medal.
For more: http://www.monumentsmenfoundation.org
The US gives Poland back a painting stolen by the Nazis
February 07, 2014 David Leveille – pri
It sometimes takes a while for stolen paintings to come home. The Nazis looted Poland’s National Museum in Warsaw 70 years ago, during World War II.
Among the many works of art that went missing was a painting by an 18th-century German artist.
On Thursday, US Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations James Hayes returned the painting to Polish diplomats in the US. And the timing of the return may have had something to do a with new movie.
“It gives me great, great pleasure to be able to return to the people of Poland this valuable painting that was stolen more than 70 years ago during World War II. Stolen art, antiquities, and fraudulently-acquired artifacts, these are the little known casualties of war,” he said. “We are deeply grateful to return this cherished painting to our partners from the Republic of Poland.
“Homeland Security Investigations will continue to work tirelessly to track down objects stolen during World War II and return them to their rightful owners,” he added.
The oil-on-copper painting, titled St. Philip baptizing a servant of Queen Kandaki, was created by German artist Johann Conrad Seekatz. The Nazis occupied Warsaw from 1939 to 1945, along with much of the rest of Europe. When they occupied a country, they often took cultural works of significance and brought them back to Germany. Sometimes, they destroyed or removed works as they withdrew in the face of Allied attacks.
US officials apparently timed the repatriation ceremony to coincide with the release of a new Hollywood movie, The Monuments Men. The film recounts the true story of a US military unit of art historians assigned during World War II to recover artwork stolen by the Nazis and return it to the original owners.
For the entire article and photo of the painting: http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-02-07/us-gives-poland-back-painting-stolen-nazis
June 09, 2014
Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 3658
On Monday, June 9, 2014, the President signed into law:
H.R. 3658, the “Monuments Men Recognition Act of 2014,” which provides for the award of a single congressional gold medal collectively, to the Monuments Men, in recognition of their heroic role in the preservation, protection, and restitution of monuments, works of art, and artifacts of cultural importance during and following World War II;
On Friday, December 16, 2016, the President signed into law:
H. R. 6130, “The Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act of 201,”6 which provides the victims of Holocaust-era persecution and their heirs a fair opportunity to recover works of art confiscated or misappropriated by the Nazis.