Saturday, September 29

Clueless


Today I saw The Rape of Europa. It's an excellent documentary of the systematic and destructive theft of Europe's master art, by the Nazis, during WWII. The movie also highlights the deliberate destruction of as much art and architecture of the "inferior races" as possible.

Once again I'm stunned by my own ignorance. I've long known the Nazis stole art from Jewish collections leading up to and during the war but I had no idea how methodical and organized the theft was. I also knew that Hitler was a failed artist who coveted great artwork but I didn't know he compiled a wish list of art to steal and that the plundering of that art mirrors his path of destruction throughout Europe. Hitler knew where the art was and bombed and invaded many great cities in his effort to check off items from his wish list. It's an incredible story that I'd never really heard about until today. For instance, I never knew there was an evacuation planned in order to remove all of the contents of the Louvre in order to keep it out of the hands of the Third Reich. The Louvre curators had evacuation drills and, when the time came, were able to carefully pack and move the entire Louvre collection with the aid of French civilians. The artwork was then deposited, for safekeeping, throughout the country and into many of France's castles. I simply had no idea.

The Louvre was one thing but, of course, Florence was another big target for Hitler. It's estimated that the Nazi's stole 10% of the world's greatest works of art by the looting of Florence alone.

We all know there are many masterpieces that have never resurfaced after WWII but it's not all bad news. Apparently the allies had Monuments Men that hunted for and found some of the greatest artwork in the world and returned it, soon after the war ended, to their original residences in Europe. The Louvre's collection made it back and they found most of the pieces from Florence, including Michelangelo's David, and returned them to the city.

I doubt this film will get a lot of play but, if you have a chance, do check it out.

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