National Archives Announces Discovery of "Hitler Albums" Documenting Looted Art
From a NARA Announcement:
Today at a ceremony in Dallas, David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, Dr. Greg Bradsher, Senior Archivist and Robert M. Edsel, President of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art and author of The Monuments Men, announced the discovery of two original leather bound albums containing photographs of paintings and furniture looted by the Nazis. The Monuments Men Foundation will donate these albums, both of which have been in private hands since the end of World War II, to the National Archives.
These albums, created by the staff of a special Nazi task force, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, document the unprecedented and systematic looting of Europe by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. The ERR was the main Nazi agency engaged in the theft of cultural treasures in Nazi-occupied countries. As the ERR staff looted, photographed and catalogued the French collections, they created leather bound albums, including the two being donated today. Each page of the album contained a photograph of one stolen item.
The Archivist hailed this discovery as “one of the most significant finds related to Hitler and the Nazi’s theft of art and other cultural treasures to be found since the Monuments Men Foundation’s previous discovery of Albums 6 and 8. It is exciting to know that original documents are shedding light on this important aspect of World War II. Documents such as these may play a role in helping victims recover their treasures. The National Archives is grateful to Mr. Edsel and the Monuments Men Foundation for today’s donation of Albums 7 and 15, which will allow scholars and historians immediate use of these materials.”
In May 1945, thirty-nine original ERR albums were discovered at Neuschwanstein by the Monuments Men. They had been stored there by the Germans along with records that documented their confiscations and thousands of looted items. These albums were subsequently taken to the Munich Central Collecting Point where they were used by the Monuments Men to assist in the restitution process. In late 1945 these albums were used as evidence at the Nuremberg trials to document the massive Nazi art looting operations.
Today the National Archives has custody of the original 39 albums, as well as two additional albums, 6 and 8, discovered by the Monuments Men Foundation and donated to the National Archives in 2007. Like Album 7, Albums 6 and 8 were picked up by a member of the 989th Field Artillery Battalion who was stationed in the Berchtesgaden area in the closing days of the war. Mr. Edsel stated about this occurrence: “I hope discoveries such as these will encourage other members of the 989th Battalion and their families, as well as all veterans, to look in their attics and basements for any lost wartime items as they may hold the clues to unravel this unsolved mystery.”
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.