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IN History & Culture ON 23 Jul, 2015
The World War II was much beyond the wars of the armies and bloodsheds; there were thefts, tortures, and many other less-known incidents which are both strange and shocking. While the World War II was on its fullest spirit, the Nazi Army of Germany carried out the biggest art loot of all times. All of us know the crazy stories of Hitler and that he would go to any stretch to fulfill his ambitions. Reichsleiter Rosenberg Task Force (ERR) and Nazi philosopher Alfred Rosenberg led the Nazi army. They stole more than one million artworks from all over Europe to frame the “ownerless cultural goods” in the proposed Führermuseum in Linz, Austria.
Later, the U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt established the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program (MFAA) after the constant urging of the Art conservator and Navy reservist George Stout. The MFAA worked under the mission of protecting and recovering cultural treasures from the wars and returning the stolen objects to the original rightful owners. The team “Monuments Men” composed of 345 men and women from 13 nations. Their prime aim was to abrade the European land to search as many artworks as possible that have been looted and concealed by the Nazis both during and after the war.
As expected, the Nazis had hidden most of the stolen pieces in salt mines and many other subterranean hideouts. It took the MFAA more than two months to restore and return the 1,500 pieces of artwork to their original owners and the Governments concerned. Later, the MFAA discontinued in 1946 when the State Department came into action.
On December 29, 1943, General Eisenhower ordered to all his commanders, "Today we are fighting in a country rich in monuments which by their creation helped and now in their old age illustrate the growth of the civilization which is ours. We are bound to respect those monuments so far as war allows."
"The good name of the Army depended in great measure on the respect which it showed to the art heritage of the modern world.", said the Lt. Col. Sir Leonard Woolley, an officer of the MFAA while praising his team.
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