Hitler and the European Art


Paintings, books, silver, religious works of arts, pieces of antique furnitures,
sculptures : from 1939 to 1945, the Nazis enjoyed an orgy of looting of the
artistic treasures of occupied Europe that was practically unchecked by the
occupied countries. Only the Italians after the fall of Mussolini in 1943 tried to
dry up the outflow and in rare occasions the French although the
Commissariat aux Questions Juives gave a very complacent hand to the
confiscation of Jewish collections by the Nazis.

In all, between 1939 and 1945, the looting concerned over 100,000 art items
which had been set aside by Hitler for his planned Fuhrermuseum in his
home town of Linz (Austria) which was supposed to become the European
Cultural Center after the victory. Linz-to-be never was and as soon as 1945
the Allies started to look for the treasures, collected them and started the
fastidious process of rendering to Caesar what belonged to Caesar. A
phenomenal task which was performed with great success but which is still
not finished.
High Altar of St Mary by Veit
Stoss, Cracow
Confiscated in 1939
German Northern Renaissance
Sculptor (ca.1438-1533)

                                  Der Fuehrermuseum

As soon as 1938 Hitler decided that after the war his Patenstadt (adopted
home town) of Linz in Austria, a dowdy provincial city of little interest, would
become the main European cultural center dwarfing Paris, London, Vienna
and Florence. The delirious welcome he received in this city of 120,000
inhabitants in March 1938 convinced him he was a semi-God and that he
could and should do something to thank the people of such a hysterical
attitude and to promote the city of his youth to higher grounds.

A month later Austria voted for the Anschluss by 99.7% of the people,
confirming the Linz impressions. Hitler decided that a "Fuehrermuseum" of
gigantic proportions would be built in Linz and he commissioned the
architect Roderick Fick to design it. Hitler precised that the 160 yards facade
with colonnes in the pure Greek style should have no central accent, an
architect nightmare, and in the end the vault of the main hall had to be
supported by piers at least on the paper as the Fuehrermuseum never saw
the day.
The Ghent altarpiece "The
mystic lamb"  by Jan and
Hubert van Eyck (1390-1441)
In 1940, the Germans
marched into Belgium and
the government tried to send
the altar to the Vatican, but
Italy's entrance into the war
on the side of Germany
made it impossible. In May
1940, it was shipped to the
South of France into the
Pau Castle. However, the
hiding place did not remain
concealed from the
Germans : in 1942, the
Reich Chancellery ordered
Ernst Buchner, director of
the Bavarian State Painting
Collection (BSGS) to bring
the altar to Schlos
Neuschwanstein. The altar
emerged as a focal point of
the revanchist art policy of
the Nazis. In 1944 when the
Schloss was no longer safe
from aerial attacks, the altar
was taken to the salt mine of
The Art of Painting  by Johannes
Vermeer, Czernin collection
Sold by Count Jaromir Czernin
in 1940 for 1,64 million
Dutch Baroque Era Painter
(1632-1675) alias Vermeer van
Delft. Now in the Art History
Museum in Vienna
Adoration of the lamb by
Brueghel The Elder (1525-1569)
Known as Pieter Brueghel I,
father of Jan 'Velvet' Bruegel
and Pieter Bruegel II.
Grandfather of Jan Bruegel II,
son-in-Law of Pieter Coecke
van Aelst. Brueghel's students
included Lucas van

According to Hitler's instructions, the Fuehrermuseum should only contain
six categories of works of Art :

* German masters of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries
* Romantics of the 19th century
* Rhenish masters as Januarius Zick, Heinsius and Schall
* French artists as Poussin, Lorrain, Boucher, Fragonard, Watteau
* Italian masters above all those of the XVth and XVIth centuries as Bellini,
Titian and Bordone and of the XVIIIth century as Tiepolo, Canaletto and Guardi
* Dutch masters above all Rubens.

To fill his super museum, Hitler had to plunder, loot, confiscate and buy
whatever he could in occupied Europe, as he had already done within
Germany and Austria since 1938 with Jewish properties, then to ship
everything to the Fuehrerbau in Munich and decide what was good for Linz;
what would be left over could wet Goering's appetite or offered at auction to
other Nazi leaders or sold to other German museums. For the duration of the
war, it was impossible for safety reasons to dispatch all these works into a
museum or to put them in display on in a museum existing only on the
drawing board.

Sonderauftrag Linz

In the meanwhile, Hitler set up a special unit to
organize and collect the looting called the
Sonderauftrag Linz (Linz Special Mission)
headquartered in Munich at the Fuehrerbau,  
headed by Hitler but seconded by Martin
A certain Dr. Hans Posse, who was Director of the Dresden Gallery of Art
since 1913, was appointed as Director by Hitler as soon as June 1939,
before the attack on Poland. Posse was a well-known art expert and a man
of indomitable energy and he hired the services of three other experts : Dr
Friedrich Wolffhards, a SS Captain, for rare books and manuscripts, Dr. Fritz
Dworschak, a strong Austrian nazi, for coin collections and Hans Reger, a
Munich architect, for taking pictures of the loot. His personal assistant was
a Dr.Rudolf Oertel, another rabid Nazi. Finally, Hitler took the advice of a
Berlin art dealer called Karl Haberstock, a cut-throat mogul of the art trade
who had joined the party in 1933 and was famous for his lack of scruples
and his bossy methods. Until his downfall in 1943, Haberstock sold or
brokered more than 100 paintings to Hitler of which "La Danse" by Watteau
for 900,000 Reichmarks (RM) which was bought from his Hohenzollern
Crown Prince owner (Haberstock took a 5% commission + furnitures from
the Prince) and "Italian Villa" by Boecklin for 675,000 RM (in 1933, 1$ was
valued at 2.5 RM)(1). As soon as 1936, he had sold to Hitler for 65,000 RM the
Paris Bordone's "Venus and Amor" purchased in 1928 from the London
dealer Otto Neumann for "about half that amount".

To finance his acquisitions, Hitler set up a special fund called Sonderfond L
that spent 115 million Reichmarks during the war (over 2 billion current US
$). Buying was not the only mean to acquire art treasures but until 1940
Hitler could not loot and plunder and had to pay for his purchases,
sometimes out of his income from the sale of "Mein Kampf" what made him
very rich. After the conquest of Europe, Hitler organized in 1940 an efficient
plunder machine under the direction of the rabid anti-semitic Alfred
Rosenberg called the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (
E.R.R.): he set up
a phoney research center called the "Hohe Schule" whose real purpose
was to be a cultural 5th Column. Along with the collaboration of the Gestapo
and the SS, the ERR located the art treasures of occupied Europe and
passed the information to the Hole Schule. On 1 March 1942, Hitler issued a
decree in which he asserted that Jews, Freemasons, and affiliated
opponents of National Socialism are the authors of the War against the
Reich, and that a systematic spiritual battle against them is a military
necessity. The decree thereupon authorized Rosenberg to search libraries,
archives, lodges, and cultural establishments, to seize relevant material
from these establishments as well as cultural treasures which were the
property or in the possession of Jews, which were ownerless, or the origin
of which could not be clearly established (2).
Madonna and the child
by Michelangelo
Italian High
Mannerist Painter and
Sculptor (1475-1564)

Woman in red and green by
French Cubist Painter
(1881-1955) Fernand Leger
Brought  by art dealer Gustav
Rochlitz to Goering
Price : confiscated

Requiring the best for Linz

The first target of this cloud of pillaging nazis locusts was
Austria and particularly the "enemies" of the Reich, i.e. the
Jews : the Rothschilds were at the center of the target.
V. Rothschild (1882-1955) was arrested in Vienna in 1938 and
his house in Theresianumgasse and his hunting lodge "Hohe
Warte" were stripped bare and all art items seized : 3978 of
them were stored in the castle of Neuschwanstein (3). The rest
- about 50 - were stolen or lost. Louis Rothschild who was
childless did not receive compensation and was lucky to be
Granted an exit visa for the USA although he had to pay a
fortune for it and relinquish all his Austrian assets, notably its
30% stake in the Austrian Creditanstalt and other huge
industrial assets. His brother Alfons (1878-1942) who owned a
philatelic collection of world-wide reputation left for the USA in
1939 never to return.
Venus and Amor by Paris Bordone, Italian
High Renaissance Painter (1500-1571)
Sold by art dealer K.Haberstock to Hitler for
65,000 RM in 1936
Purchased in 1928 from London art dealer
Otto Neumann for 30,000 RM
In this castle in Bavaria built by
a madman (Ludwig II) another
madman (Hitler) stored during 5
years the art treasures of
Europe, notably the Jewish
So as soon as October 1939, the zealous Dr.Posse was able to please Hitler
with a first "Linz list" proposing 1 Holbein, 1 Cranach, 3 Mostaerts, 1 van
Aelst, 1 Moro, 1 van Dyck, 2 Jan Fyts, 2 Teniers the Younger, 1 Rembrandt, 2
Hals, 1 Steen, 3 van Ostades, 2 van Ruisdaels, 1 van de Capelle, 2
Tintorettos, 2 Guardis, 2 Bouchers, 1 Nattier, 1 Larguillere, and the only
English one was "Lady Forbes" by Romney. Some minor painters were
allocated to the Kunsthistoriches Institut. Hitler always requiring the best for
Linz. Apparently satisfied, Hitler decided that the Sonderauftrag would have a
go at Austrian coin collections and Posse raided 12 Austrian monasteries
under the pretext of "scientific inventorising" : Klosterneuburg, Gottweig,
Kremsmuenster, Lambach, St Florian, Schlegl, Wilhering and St Peter in
Salzburg. The Nazis took also the Coronation regalia of Charlemagne in

Sometimes, because they could not do otherwise in an "allied" country, the
looters had to bid for items. Thus the Hitlerian locusts paid 900,000 RM for
Rembrandt portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels, 65,000 RM for Makart portrait of
"Cleopatra", 15,500 RM for a "Madonna and child" of the Rubens school,
10,000 RM for "Venus and Mars" by Giordano and 27,500 RM for a portrait of
"Bismarch" by Lambach. From the old auction house of Dorotheum in Vienna
only, they bought 75 works of art. Dr.Posse asked Bormann, Hitler's efficient
and dictatorial personal secretary, to obtain from Hitler a decree of
confiscation for the Ganymede carried off by an eagle by Rubens. Hitler shied
away from it and offered a barter with the Bloch-Bauer collection of
porcelain to the city of Vienna : he got the Rubens that was recorded as item
1887 on the Linz collection. From princess Windischer, granddaughter of the
emperor of Austria at the time of Napoleon, Posse's agents bought for an
unknown price the marble statue representing Napoleon sister Maria-Elisa
by Canova made in 1812. Poor Maria-Elisa stayed in the Hohenfurt
monastery, covered by dust, until 1945.

        Greedy Graf made a bad deal

When confiscation or auction sales were not possible, the Sonderauftrag
Linz's men tried cajoleries mixed with threats and intimidation. For instance,
the Czernins, one of the oldest Central Europe noble families (4), had always
refused to part with Vermeer The Art of Painting of which Graf Eugen
received ownership of one-fifth, and his nephew, Graf Jaromir, four-fifths.
The reason for this unusual distribution was the extraordinarily high value
attached to the Vermeer. It was appraised at nearly 1 million schillings in
1933. American millionaire
Andrew Mellon had offered 6 million dollars in
1935. Hitler looked for some way to get hold of it but it was impossible as the
Czernins were good Germans, no Jews and had no tax debts. However,
Hitler was unwilling to pay the 2 million Reichsmarks sought by Count
Jaromir Czernin, and the painting remained unsold. Later in 1939, Czernin
was approached by the Hamburg tobacco industrialist Philipp Reemtsma,
who declared his intent to buy the painting for 1.8 millions Reichsmarks.
Reemtsma's request was supported by Hermann Goering himself. A
telegram received by the office for the protection of monuments in Vienna,
dated 8 December 1939, stated that "the General Fieldmarshall has given
permission to sell The Art of Painting by Vermeer, now in the possession of
Count Jaromir Czernin, to Mr. Philipp Reemtsma in Hamburg." The sale was
eventually blocked but in April 1940 Hitler granted Count Jaromir Czernin a
reduced sales tax for the work and acquired the painting for 1.65 million

The possession of cultural products was essential to the Nazis leaders elite
status. In hoping to displace the traditional aristocracy atop of the social
order, they endeavored to dislodge art works in the hands of the old elite.
Many of the Nazi leaders took great pleasure in buying artworks from the
nobility because it symbolized in their minds a changing in the guard. In 1942,
Hitler granted a Hohenzollern prince a tract of land in exchange for
Watteau's painting "La Danse", an ironic act for the non-noble ruler and the
royal subject in that it harkened back to feudal lords' patronage of their
vassals. Others who sold to Hitler included Georg Prinz von Sachsen,
Freiherr von Frankenstein, Herzog von Oldenburg and Prinz

On 11 October 1940 the director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum
presented the "Art of painting" to the Fuehrer at his residence in Munich.
Count Jaromir Czernin wrote to Hitler on 20 November 1940 to express his
appreciation for the Fuehrer's acquisition, which he deemed "the most
perfect and delightful solution." Czernin ended his note to Hitler by
remarking: "I ask that you accept my sincere thanks. Wishing that this
picture may bring you, my Fuehrer, joy always, I greet you, my Fuehrer, with
the German salute, as your devoted Count Jaromir Czernin-Morzin." At the
end of the war, the Count immediately registered his right of ownership at
the Kunsthistorisches Museum. On 15 October 1945 he alleged that Hitler
had pressured him into selling the painting for an "outright ridiculous price."
On 21 January 1946 the state ministry for education refuted Czernin's claim,
stating that "Count Czernin sold the painting without undue force and can
therefore no longer be considered the owner of the picture." In 1949 the
highest commission for restitution ruled that Czernin's complaint was
"completely unsubstantiated, indeed malicious." Nevertheless, during the
early to mid-1950s Czernin continued in his attempts to claim restitution,
each time being rejected.
The last supper by Dieric
Bouts the Elder
Netherlandish Northern
Renaissance Painter
Bust of Karl Haberstock
German art dealer who made a
fortune out of selling to Hitler
paintings for his Linz
collections. Haberstock
specialized in German art of the
19th Century (Hitler's favourite
painters) and made itself
thereby a name.
Madonna by Holbein The
German Northern
Renaissance Painter
(1465-1524), Father of Hans
Holbein the Younger and
Ambrosius Holbein.
Holbein's studio assistants
included Leonhard Beck.
The hay harvest by Brueghel the
Confiscated from Prince
Lobkowitz's castle
Simonetta by Sandro
Sold by art dealer Walter
Bornheim to Goering
Price 300,000 Reichmarks
Italian Early Renaissance
Painter (1445-1510) Also
known as Alessandro
The Master of Hohenfurth's
Confiscated for Linz collection

Rolled up and stuffed in the back of a car

After the annexation of Czechoslovakia, the real dirty side of
the Nazis became flagrant : Hitler entered in Prague on the
15th of March 1939 and stayed at the historic
Castle. He did not have anymore to care about national
susceptibilities as Czechoslovakia was an enemy of the
Reich : the next day he left with a number of valuable
tapestries rolled up and stuffed in the back of a car. In
November 1939, Reich protector Karl Frank ordered the
plundering of Prague University and its library was stripped
of numerous paintings, statues and manuscripts.

The modern Art Gallery in Prague was looted of its collection
of 19th century Czech paintings. The Czech national
museum was picked clean and the crown jewels of then
ancient Czech kings were seized, the Gobelins in Prague
Maltese Palace were removed at night. Dr.Ruprecht, an
Austrian appointed "Curator of Armour" at the
Kunsthistorisches Institut, plundered four great castles in
Prague : Radnitz Castle owned by Prince Lobkowitz,
Konopiste Castle owned by archduke Franz Ferdinand,
Pocno castle owned by Count Coloredo, Frauenberg Castle
owned by prince Schwarzenberg.

Bormann laconically justified the measure by saying : the
idea was to broaden the cultural basis for the 300,000
Germans in the Protectorate . Period. However Hitler
sometimes adopted other means to get his load of
treasures : he confiscated Brueghel The Elder's "Hay
harvest" from Czech Prince Lobkowitz, one of the three
patrons of Beethoven, without justification and it was
entered in the Linz collection as  item 2124.
Venus by Lucas
Cranach the Elder
Confiscated in Paris
by Goering
German Northern
Renaissance Painter
Detail of the hand carved altar  
of St Mary Church in Cracow by
Veit Stoss
German Northern Renaissance
Sculptor (1438-1533)
Confiscated as "German" and
laid in pieces in Nuremberg
until 1945
Atalanta and Meleager by Rubens
Confiscated in Paris by Goering
Flemish Baroque Era Painter (1577-1640)
Rubens' students included Anthony Van
Dyck, Lambert Jacobsz, Cornelis de Vos
and Simon de Vos

The Lobkowitz were not yet out of danger : even as late as 1944, the 1000
instruments of their musical collection were seized and transported to the
villa Castiglione at Grundlsee (Upper Danube) where they stayed until 1945
when they were moved back to Prague for safety reason. Then it was the
turn of the famous altar piece of Hohenfurth monastery in the Sudenteland
-known as the master of Hohenfurth- which consisted of 9 panels painted
about 1350 by an unknown artist : it depicts the annunciation, the birth of
Christ, the 3 Magi, the Christ on the Mount of Olives, the Christ carrying the
cross, the Pieta, the Resurrection, Pentecost and Ascension. In 1938, the
Czechs sensing danger in the Sudenteland had moved it to Prague. The
beautiful piece was taken away from Prague and added to the Linz collection
as one of the most famous products of German paintings.
Venus by Boucher
French Rococo Era Painter
(1703-1770) Father-in-law of
Pierre-Antoine Baudouin and
Jean-Baptiste Deshays.
Boucher's students included
Fragonard, Drouais, Gravelot,
Huet, Charlier, Le Prince and
Confiscated in Paris by Goering
Jews, Slavs and other disfavored groups have "no rights"

Poor Poles and Russians got an even harsher treatment. Hitler's hatred for
the Slavs stemmed from U.S. Bible-Belt/Confederate untermenschen
doctrine (from the slavery era) that some people have "no rights" worth
respecting. Slavers, predominantly in tobacco, had declared slaves (blacks)
to have "no rights"; Hitler who was a smoker until 1924 followed slaver
doctrine, and said Jews, Slavs, and other disfavored groups have "no
rights." As such they had no culture or no culture worth saving. However,
Poland had some national treasures worth the loot, notably the ones
decreed of German origin like the famous hand carved wooden altar of St
Mary Church in Cracow commissioned by the king of Poland in 1477 from
Veit Stoss, a German sculptor living in Nuremberg. As soon as Octobre 1939
(5), orders of looting were issued.

In November, Hans Frank, Governor General, issued a decree to the point
that all movable and stationary property of the former Polish state will be
sequestered for the purpose of securing all manner of public valuables. On
December the 16th, a second decree stipulated that all objects of art in
public possession, all private collections which had not already been seized,
all ecclesiastical art treasures should be added to the list. Poland was
picked clean in no time. Everything of artistic value was in German hands.
Hans Frank proudly wrote to Hans Posse : "In six months, it has been
possible to collect almost all the art objects in the country with the exception
of a series of tapestries from the castle of Cracow." Even the Veit Stoss was
hammered out and ended in pieces in Nuremberg where it stayed until 1945.

One of Leonardo da Vinci’s great masterpieces, widely presumed to be a
portrait of the Duke of Milan’s mistress (Cecilia Gallerani), the Lady with an
Ermine (see picture) had been in the collection of the Czartoryski family in
Poland for several generations. At the onset of World War II, the family hid
their treasures at their country estate. But the Nazis found and stole much of
the Czartoryski collection, including Lady with an Ermine, in September 1939.

During the war, the painting was the object of competing affections between
Governor-General Hans Frank and Hermann Göring. Kajetan Mühlmann, Nazi
SS officer and “Special Delegate for the Securing of Art and Cultural Goods,”
carried the painting from Cracow to Berlin and back on several occasions.
After the war the Allies captured Frank and discovered the portrait in his
possession. It was one of many Polish treasures returned by train to Cracow
in late April 1946.

As for the Russians, they did not have one chance to avoid simple
destruction of their Art treasures. Deemed "inferiors" Slavs, "degenerated
Marxists", all they deserved was slavery and annihilation. Literally an orgy of
destruction swept over Russia : in the first years of the war, a total of 427
museums were distroyed and razed. The Nazis spared nothing not even
Catherine the Great palace and museum which were ramsacked while the
German armies
stripped bare Leningrad : the 12,000 volumes collection in
French and Russian of the palace of Alexander the Great was shipped to
Germany. In Kiev, 4 million books were looted, Tchaikovsky museum at Klin
and the museum of the painter
Ilya Repin were razed too. Repin was and is
still considered as the greatest Russian painter of the 19th century : during
his life time, people reacted so violently to his paintings that guards had to be
posted in front to protect them. One of the most curious consequences of
this looting was and still is, the removal between 1941 and 1943 by the Nazis
of the
Smolensk archives of the Communist Party that eventually fell in 1945
in the hands of the US OSS. To this day, the US Goverment has still refused to
ship them back to Russia.

The Soviets however had their revenge-looting spree too at the end of the
war : in a recent interview, Antoly Vilkov, deputy-chief of the federal agency
that preserves cultural heritage, said that Russia has 249,000 works of art,
as well as 260,000 archive files and more than one million books, that were
taken from Germany as war compensation. The most famous is "Priam's
Treasure," a collection of gold recovered by the German archaeologist
Heinrich Schliemann in 1873 in what he believed to be ancient Troy. The
Pushkin displayed the treasures in 1996 and has since dropped any question
of its return. The gold is back in storage. "Everything that the Soviet Union
took as compensation, which includes Schliemann's gold as well, is not
subject to return," Vilkov told the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.
Adam and Eve after the
expulsion by David
TeniersFlemish Baroque
Era Painter (1610-1690).
Son-in-law of Jan 'Velvet'
Bruegel - Confiscated in
Paris by Goering
Lady Hibbert's portrait by
Thomas Gainsborough-
English Rococo
Era/Romantic Painter
(1727-1788) Confiscated in
Paris for Hitler
Portrait of a Lady with an
ermine by Leonardo da Vinci
Confiscated in Poland for
The painting was returned to the
Czartoryski Collection after the
war by Polish Monuments
officer Major Karol Estreicher,
MFAA officer Lt. Frank P.
Albright and two American GIs.
Portrait of Madame de
Pompadour by Boucher
Confiscated in Paris for
French Rococo Era Painter
(1703-1770). Father-in-law
of Pierre-Antoine Baudouin
and Jean-Baptiste
Deshays. Boucher's
students included
Francois-Hubert Drouais,
Hubert Francois Gravelot,
Jean-Baptiste Marie Huet,
Jacques Charlier,
Jean-Baptiste Le Prince
and Gabriel Jacques de
Saint-Aubin.Specializes in
History Painting.
The astronomer by Johannes
Confiscated in Paris for Hitler
Dutch Baroque Era Painter
(1632-1675). Also known as
Vermeer van Delft
In Italy, a descendant of Queen Victoria helped a lot

In Italy, an allied country, the set was a bit different. Until
the fall of Mussolini in 1943, looting was excluded and
everything had to be done legally. However, the Duce
-who contrary to his subjects despised Art- very often
lent a complacent hand to the "transfer" to his buddy
Hitler of an valuable art item. Hans Makart's "The plague
in Florence" tryptich that was taken from the
sequestrated villa of the Landau-Finaly family in 1940
was entered in the Linz collection as a gift from the
Duce. Hitler reciprocated to Mussolini by giving him a
marble ..."Fuehrer buste" (sic) by sculptor Josef Thorak.

As a pleasure secondary to purchasing works from
aristocrats, the Nazi leaders would employ individuals
from this class as agents or advisers. Hitler, for
example, turned to Philipp Prinz von Hessen, a
descendant of Queen Victoria and Frederick II of
Prussia, to procure art works in Italy : the Prince had
married the daughter of the Italian King Victor
Emmanuel III and hence had many connections. Alfred
Rosenberg commissioned Eberhard Freiherr von
Kunsberg to plunder art, while Ribbentrop engaged Kurt
Freiherr von Behr to lead looting commandos in the
occupied territories. Using these aristocrats to carry out
unlawful tasks was one technique used to attempt to
debase them. In fascist Italy this technique worked very
well : thanks to the rabid Nazi Prince von Hessen,
Dr.Posse was able to acquire in 2 weeks in 1941 in Italy
for 500,000 RM 25 paintings for Hitler including
Tintoretto, Moroni, Macrino di Albia, Castiglione,
Waldmuller portrait of Rossini's wife. Bormann wrote to
him to say that he had wired 1,6 million additional RM.
Eventually Hessen bought 88 works or art for Hitler,
notably a portrait of a "Man in a black cap" by Hans
Memling sold by Prince Corsini for 5 million Lire.
The Priam's Treasure discovered in 1873
by Heinrich Schliemann on the alledged
site of Troy. Confiscated in Berlin by the
Red Army in 1945 as "compensation"
Carrying the cross by Brueghel
the Elder
Bought in La Hague for Hitler
Price unknown
View of San Marco by Canaletto
Italian Rococo Era Painter (1697-1768).
Also known as Giovanni Antonio Canal.
Canaletto's nephew, Bernardo Bellotto,
expertly mimicked his style and even
adopted the nickname "Canaletto" for
Bought in La Hague for Hitler
Price unknown
View of Haarlem by Jacob van
Bought in La Hague for Hitler
Dutch Baroque Era Painter
(1628-1682). Also known as
Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael
Price unknown
The south Tyrol became the largest storehouse of German loot : castle of
San Leonardo di Passiria was the biggest repositories for works of art. Dr.
Posse bought on his own too, notably a Rubens's portrait and Christ carrying
the cross by Tiepolo. After the fall of the Duce, looting went on a rampage in
Naples, then on Northern Italy : in July 1944, the 363rd German infantry
division withdrew from Florence galleries 307 paintings and hid them in
various caches in the South Tyrol. German looting in Italy amounted to 3600
paintings including the Perugia collection, the Mason Perkins collection, the
Bourbon-Parma collection. Many are still missing, notably the "Head of a
Faun" sculpted by Michelangelo when he was 15.
      In France, Goering and Hitler had a field day

But "la crème de la crème" of the looting art was reserved
to France whose Vichy Government was too often pleased to
oblige or to directly collaborate with the help of the
"Commissaire aux Questions Juives", the sinister Louis
Darquier dit Darquier de Pellepoix and of representatives of
the Paris art galleries like Etienne Bignou, Zacharias
Birtschansky, Achilles Boitl, Brimo de la Laroussilhe,
Brosseron-Marchand, Cailleux, Charles Collet, Paul Gouvert,
Isidor Rosner, Andre Schoeller, Jean Souffrice and the
Comte de Lestang.

In Paris, the ERR of Rosenberg set up its business with high
efficiency and collected the stolen, confiscated or bought
items in the Musee du Jeu de Paume in the Jardin des
Tuileries. As soon as 30th of June 1940, Field-marshal
Wilhem Keitel issued a decree to safeguard objects of art
belonging to the French state and also such works of art and
antiquity which constitute private property. Jewish property
is to be taken into custody against removal or concealment.
There is no question of expropriation but of a transfer into
our custody. Similar decrees were issued in Holland,
Belgium and Luxembourg. On july 17th 1940 baron von
Kunsberg from the German embassy in Paris was appointed
chief of an organization known as the Kolonne Kunsberg. On
July 15th Keitel decreed that movable works of art above
100,000 Frs. must be declared by their owners or
custodians in writing prior to 08/15/40.

When the ERR was ready to operate, Rosenberg took over
from Kunsberg and he put his headquarters at the Musee du
Jeu de Paume where art objects were stored. In the first 2
months, he amassed 21,903 objects of art valued at over
500 millions RM. If a lot of paintings were bought from
regular Parisian art galleries at inflated prices (Hitler was
paying in printed money), the bulk of the shipments
consisted of confiscated Jewish collections among them
once more the Rothschilds (barons Edouard, Robert and
Philippe), the Kahns, the David-Weills, the Schlosses. A lot of
the Rothschilds' art works had been removed to Spain or
Argentina, some hidden in their castles or domains, some in
the South of France and some hidden in a secret wall
Avenue de Marigny in Paris which became the home of the
Luftwaffe Commandant in France. The Rothschilds had
giving some of their collections to the Louvre to protect
them but Hitler decreed that all transfer of ownership after
09/01/30 was void. With the collaboration of French agents,
French dealers and of the promiscuous Louis Darquier, all
caches were found and in no time 4000 Jewish works of art
were seized by the Nazis.

Of course, there was a pecking order : 1- Hitler, 2- Goering,
3- NSDAP dignitaries, 4- German museums, 5- Paris
museums, 6- left over auctioned off to art dealers. Goering
had his own agents on the spot a certain Walter Hofer from
Berlin and a German art dealer called Bruno Lohse.
Corruption was rife amongst Rosenberg's employees who
considered that Einsatzsab was Goering's personal looting
unit. Goering even paid French agents to discover the
caches of the Jewish caches. He sent to Karinhall, his
fabulously luxurious residence 45 miles away from Berlin,
"Venus" by Boucher, "Atalanta and Meleager" by Rubens,
"Adam and Eve" by Teniers, "Venus" by Lucas Cranach the

In February 1941, the ERR shipped to Neuschwanstein a first
load of 40 paintings including 1 Rembrandt, 2 Goyas, 1 Franz
Hals, 2 Watteaus, 3 Bouchers (1 large portrait of Mme de
Pompadour), 2 Fragonards, 1 Ter Boch, Gainsborough
portrait of Lady Hibbert, the Astronomer by Vermeer.
Approximately 700 objects from the Einsatzstab were
selected for the Goering's collection. Other shipments of
confiscated or bought material from Paris to Munich took
place on 8 February 1941, 15 March 1941, 3 May 1941, 15
August 1941, 2 December 1941, 14 March 1942, 15 May
1942, and 24 November 1942. Eventually, out of the
thousands works of art stored in Alt Aussee, the Allies
withdrew in 1945, 3978 pertaining to the Rothschilds, 1202
to the Kahns, 1121 to the David-Weills, 989 to the Levys de
Benzion and 556 to the Seligmans.
Christ taken from the cross
by Rembrandt
Dutch Baroque Era Painter
and Engraver (1606-1669).
Also known as Rembrandt
Harmensz van Rijn.
Studied under history
painter Pieter Lastman.
Rembrandt's students
included Gerrit Dou,
Nicolaes Maes, Jacob
Backer, Ferdinand Bol,
Willem Drost, Barent
Fabritius, Carel Fabritius,
Govert Flinck, Aert de
Gelder, Samuel van
Hoogstraten, Philips
Koninck, Jurgen Ovens,
Jan Victors and Jacob de
Bought in La Hague for
Price unknown
Village marriage by Jan
Steen, Dutch Baroque Era
Painter (1625-1679)
Bought in La Hague for
Price unknown
Italian villa by Arnold
Swiss Symbolist Painter
Bought for Hitler
675,000 Reichmarks
Landscape with nymphs by Claude
Lorrain, French Baroque Era Painter
(1602-1682). Bought for Hitler by Karl
Haberstock in Paris.
Price: sold for
48,000 Reichmarks
with the "Battle on a bridge" by the
same author
Man with a black cap by
Hans Memling
Netherlandish Northern
Renaissance Painter
Bought from Prince Corsini
in Italy by Philipp von
Hessen for Hitler
Price: sold for
5 million Lire

Forest road by Jan Brueghel
Flemish Baroque Era Painter (1601-1678).
Also known as Jan Brueghel II, son of
Jan 'Velvet' Bruegel, grandson of Pieter
Brueghel, nephew of Pieter Bruegel II
Bought for 18,000 RM for Hitler by Karl
Haberstock at Drouot in Paris
Price: sold for
32,500 Reichmarks
Christ carrying the cross
by Giovanni B. Tiepolo
Italian Rococo Era Painter
Bought by Hans Posse in
Italy for Hitler
Price: unknown
Give me your Picassos and your Matisses, I'll give you my fake Old Masters
Furthermore, the ERR introduced the practice of exchange which was a
nadir in the stupidity and the arrogance of the Nazis leaders : given that
almost all of 20th century art was deemed "Entarte" (degenerate), the
EER used to trade Impressionists paintings for old masters or the
famous German romantics so endeared by the Fuehrer. Thus the
Einsatzstab gave in March 1941, 1 Braque, 1 Cezanne, 2 Picasso, 1
Degas, 3 Matisses, 1 Renoir, 1 Corot, 1 Sisley and received 1 Titian
(Portrait of a Bearded Man) and 1 Jan Weenix (Hunting still life). In
another exchange the same month, ERR gave 1 Renoir ("Reclining Nude"
appraised at Frs. 200,000) and 1 "Oriental Women" appraised at
Frs.30,000 signed Matisse from the Rosenberg-Bernstein collection and
received 1 "Samson and Delilah" signed HB, a male portrait by Franz
Krueger and a "Pomona with cherubs" by Janssens (?). Several similar
exchanges followed, especially on February 9th 1942 when Gustav
Rochlitz, a Parisian art dealer, gave a 15th Century "Adoration of the
Magi" by the Master of Frankfurt against seven modern works including
the Braque's "Guitar Player" and the "Yellow Curtain" by Matisse, which
both came from the Kann Collection. And so on for months. In total, the
ERR exchanged 91 degenerate artists paitings vs. less than 20 old

The stupidity of the Nazis knew no limits but it made the fortune of the
collaborationnist Parisian galleries and made many French families
richer : from February 1941 through November 1943, the Einsatzstab
conducted 28 formal exchanges of confiscated paintings with 6
individuals, generally art dealers who were given degerate artists'
paintings. Some dealers even paid fantastic prices for German paintings
of little value because they knew that Hitler at the other end of this
cut-throat business would fall for them. French citizens did not shy away
from dealing directly with the Nazis : in 1943, Karl Haberstock's
successor in Paris in the art trade, Hildebrand Gurlitt, flew to Marseilles
to meet the respectable Count de Demandolx-Dedon who was ready to
sell a male portait by Jean Fouquet for 800,000 RM. The deal took place
to mutual satisfaction but when the portrait was presented to Hans
Posse, he estimated it was a ...fake and the works of Fouquet (?) landed
in the Cologne Wallraf musueum.

The most famous German art dealer in Paris during the Occupation was
a woman called Maria Dietrich, owner of the Almas Gallery in Munich,
whose daughter was a friend of Eva Braun. Absolutely unknown before
the war, she took over her Jewish husband Gallery -whom she divorced
to save her life- and became the most agressive and gullible buyer of
this period. But she had a direct line to Hitler and consistently bought
paintings that he liked whatever the price : he frequently simply gave her
a blank check to cover purchases he knew would suit his taste. In 1937,
her income stood at 47,000 RM but soared to 570,000 RM in 1942. In
1944, she was still grossing 216,000 RM. Her contact dealer in Paris was
an art dealer named Yves Perdoux who in 1941 wrote a letter to Frau
Dietrich ending with the compulsory and complacent "Heil Hitler". She
bought for Hitler Boucher's "Epiphany" for 140,000 RM and resold it to
Hitler for 180,000 RM. However Hitler was no fool : as a private collector
and as the initiator of the new museum collection intended for Linz, Hitler
was well informed of the art market prices and the effects of heated
collector competition in the Third Reich.

When some of his high officials such as Goering, Goebbels and von
Ribbentrop expansively began to bid for art, the intense rivalry inflated
prices far beyond what he considered to be a reasonable level. Hitler
rejected a "Bismarck" by Lenbach because he considered the price of
30,000 Reichmarks (RM) far too extravagant. Shortly thereafter Goering
bought the painting at a Berlin auction for 74,000 RM and proudly
presented it to Hitler on his birthday. Learning of the staggering price,
Hitler was outraged that prices were soaring out of control and decided
that some sort of intervention in the market was necessary. Shortly
thereafter, the so-called "Fuehrer Option" was put into effect: no picture
of historic or unusual artistic value could be sold in Germany without
Hitler's permission. This control helped dampen wild price speculation
on the art market.
Italian harbour scene by
Joseph Vernet, French
Painter (1714-1789). Father
of Carle Vernet and
grandfather of Horace
Bought by Hildebrandt
Gurlitt in Paris for Hitler
450,000 Fr
The three graces by Peter Paul
Rubens, Flemish Baroque Era
Painter (1577-1640)
From Maurice de Rothschild
Price : confiscated
Reclining nude by
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
French Impressionist Painter
(1841-1919), father of film
director Jean Renoir
Exchanged by the ERR vs. 3
dubious old masters
Price : estimated at
200,000 Frs.
Yellow curtain by Henri
French Fauvist Painter and
Sculptor (1869-1954).
Grandfather of American
sculptor Paul Matisse.
Henri Matisse was the
most important French
painter of the 20th century,
rivaling Picasso in his
influence. Picasso was
even jealous of Matisse's
talent and notoriety.
Matisse studied under
Bouguereau and Gustave
Moreau and experimented
with Pointillism, which he
found rigidly confining.
Later, building on the work
of C�zanne and Gauguin,
he and Andre Derain
developed Fauvism, a
much freer and more
expressive style of
painting which was in fact
the forerunner of
Exchanged by the ERR vs.
15th Century Adoration of
the Magi by the Master of
Guitar player by
Braque, French
Cubist-Fauvist Painter
Exchanged by the
ERR vs. 15th Century
Adoration of the Magi
by the Master of
Hitler contemplating Linz Museum mock up in 1945.
Even in the last days of the Reich, hidden in his
bunker, Hitler was showing to his flabbergasted
guests the mock up of the future Fuhrermuseum
The fabulous Schloss collection
Hans Posse died in Decembre 1942 from a mouth cancer. He had spent
over 20 millions RM for Linz. Before his death for which Hitler ordered a
national funeral -although he was too busy on the Eastern Front to
attend- Dr. Posse made a master stroke with the Schloss collection in
Paris. This remarkable collection of 333 paintings included old master
paintings of the 16th ,17th and 18th Century, notably works by or
attributed to Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Frans van Mieris the Elder, Van
Goyen, Cranach, Brueghel, Teniers, Metsu, Van Dyck and also Guardi and

German services -helped by the art dealers Roger Dequoy and his
partner George Destrem, who had taken over the Wildenstein Gallery
after its "aryanization"- began looking for the Schloss collection under
the supervision of Pierre Laval and Abel Bonnard, Vichy minister of
Education, as soon as France became occupied. Hitler instructed them
to find it, using any means at their disposal, and bring it to the Museum of
Linz. They did not find it until 1943 when Jean-Francois Lefranc, the
administrator charged by German services to find the collection, went to
Nice and under instructions of Laval arrested the Schlosses with Vichy
officials : the collection was transported to Paris where it was put in the
vaults of the Banque Dreyfus. The Musee du Louvre succeeded in
pre-empting 49 of the 333 registered paintings for 18,9 million Fr. , with
the intention of protecting the masterworks and recovering them later,
which started as early as 1945. Most of the
collection was sent to the
Musee du Jeu de Paume, and then on to Munich on November 27, 1943.

After the death of Dr.Posse, his job was taken over by his assistant, Dr.
Hermann Voss, director of the Wiesbaden gallery, a fervent anti-nazi.
Rosenberg, whose star was fading, was removed from the head of the
ERR and the new figure of power in the art trade become Hildebrand
Gurlitt, art dealer in Hamburg and an anti-Nazi too who settled in Paris.
As always in matters of power, the would-be anti-nazis stepped into the
tracks of their predecessors and went on a buying spree of huge
proportions : Gurlitt paid 2,2 millions RM for some Beauvais tapestries,
400,000 Fr for a Vernet Italian port scene, 200,000 Frs for a battle-scene
by Januarius Zick and 100,000 Frs for a landscape by Jan Keirinx.

Then he bought from the Demandolx family in Marseille (France)  a male
portrait by Jean Fouquet for
800,000 RM that might have been a fake as
we saw. In April 1944, Dr. Voss gave to Martin Bormann the details of his
purchases : 878 paintings itemizing 45 German paintings before 1800,
142 German after 1800, 30 Netherlands school before 1600, 88 17th and
18th century Flemish, 395 17th and 18th centuries Dutch, 54 19th
century Dutch, 72 Italian, 42 French, 5 Spanish, 5 English. Plus 136
drawings and watercolours, 174 prints, 8 pastels, 10 sculptures, 39
objets d'art and furnitures.
Bismarck aged 74 by
Franz von Lenbach
German Painter(1836-1904)
Bought by Goering at a
Berlin auction for
Earing about the
astronomic price paid,
Hitler instituted the "Hitler
clause" in the sale of
valuable works of art
Venus and Cupid by
Flemish Northern
Painter,Gossaert,  known
as Mabuse (1478-1532)
Stolen from the Schloss
collection in Paris
Hendrickje Stoffels by Rembrandt
Hendrickje Stoffels (d.1663) was part of Rembrandt's household
initially as housekeeper and nurse to his son Titus. She rapidly
became Rembrandt's lover
Acquired at auction for 900,000 RM for Hitler
Where is it now ? Room 23, Nattional Gallery, London WC2
The death of Cleopatra by
Hans Makart (right)
Austrian painter, born in
Salzburg, was the son of an
inspector of the imperial
castle. He has been aptly
called the first German
painter of the 19th century
Acquired at auction for
65,000 RM for Hitler
Where is it now ?
Kunstsammlungen, Kassel
Last but not least : Holland
Eventually Holland, the birthplace of
so many masters, was not forgotten.
As soon as May 1940, a certain
Dr.Kajetan Muehlmann, a protege of
General-Governor Seys-Inquart,
arrived in Amsterdam to start his
looting business within the
Dienstelle Muehlmann.
But most interesting art works were sold at inflated prices by Dutch art
dealers jumping on the willingness of their victors to pay huge prices.
However, Hans Posse had the collaboration of the Nazis autorities in The
Netherlands and he could pay with printed money. In December 1940, he
sent his first batch of purchases to Munich : 27 paintings including Peter
Breughel Carrying of the Cross, 2 portraits by Rubens, Gerard Dou Portrait of
Rembrandt father, Canaletto View of San Marco, Venice, Rembrandt self
portrait, Rubens Christ taken prisoner, Jan Steen Village marriage, Jacob
van Ruisdael View of Harleem. In August 1940, Dr. Posse shipped 35 more
paintings including works by Ter Boch, Brouwer, Jan Breughel, van de
Capelle, van Cleeve, van Goyen, Kaaf, Lasterman, Steen, Snyders, van de

The list of art dealers established in La Hague who dealt with the Nazis is
impressive and can be
consulted here. The global value of the shipments
from Holland is unknown but it is a big chunk of the total estimated at
100,000 works of art during WW2. In Holland, Hitler pursued of his vengance
the exiled German banker Fritz Mannheimer (born in Stuttgart) who owned
one of the most valuable private collections in Europe : paintings by
Rembrandt, Vermeer, Watteau, Fragonard, Crivelli and Canaletto. As a Jew
he fled Germany and settled in Amsterdam where he became partner of the
bank Mendelssohn & CO and very often refused to underwrite Nazis financial
operations. Hitler resented it and decided he would have a go at his

In 1939, Mannheimer died of a heart attack and Posse tried to seize the
collection but as his widow or the creditors of his bank were not Jewish, it
was legally impossible. In 1941, Muehlmann, the Hitler's man on the spot,
offered 5,5 million Gulden to the creditors of Mannerheim who had asked 7,5
million : the collection was transferred to Schloss Neuschwanden until 1945
when it ended in Altaussee. After the  war, Muehlmann became the lover of
Leni Riefenstahl.  
Venus and Mars by Luca
Giordano (1840-1884)
Italian Baroque Era Painter
Acquired at auction for
10,000 RM for Hitler
Dr. Hans Posse
Director of the Special
Mission Linz,
ex-Director of the
Dresden Art Gallery
From 1939 to 1942,
Hans Posse was the
main buyer of art
works on behalf of
Hitler while the
anti-semitic Alfred
Rosenberg with his
ERR was the main
Dr. Hermann Voss,
second Director of the
Special Mission Linz,
ex-Director of the
Wiesbaden Art Gallery
From 1943 to 1945,
under much more
difficult conditions, Dr.
Voss tried to emulate
his predecessor and
did it with great
German efficiency and
some success
In Hitler political testament,  the Jews
were still the poisoners of the world :
"Above all, I charge the leadership of the
nation and their subjects with the
meticulous observation of the race laws
and the merciless resistance to the
universal poisoner of all peoples,
international Jewry."
In Linz
looted Art
were not the
only thing
that the
Gal. Eisenhower, visiting Alt
Aussee, could not believe his
Armed with acetylene torches, Captain Posey and his men entered the
passageway leading to the mine and were halted by a lot of d�bris.

They were the works of a German art restorer called Karl Sieber who
had been hired by Dr. Voss to work at the Altaussee mine but had
teamed up with the Austrian resistance in order to prevent the Nazis to
completely blow off the mine. By blocking the passageway, he had
thwarted the destructive job planned by the Nazis. It took however only
24 hours to Captain Posey and his team to clear out the debris and get
access to the chambers. Then they had the shock of their lives : 6,577
paintings, 137 sculptures and 484 cases full of art objects of all sorts
and all provenances were looking at them with gratitude. The rest is
history, the Allies worked hard during the first months of the post-war
period to make restitutions of the art works to their legitimate owners.
To this day, not everything looted has been recovered and restituted and
litigations and procedures still take place every year.

In spite of the best efforts of S. Lane Faison, American art protection
officer who -in its investigation report No. 4 "special job Linz"-
recommended that the special job Linz be a criminal organization, none
of the members of the Linz organization was prosecuted for war crimes.
The Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) set up within the OSS by the US
Government did a terrific job but it is still 60 years after the end of the
war an unfinished
job that demands a lot of intellectual honesty.

Returning European works of art stolen by the Nazis in the 1930s
and'40s requires a new and complex kind of detective work. Art looted
by the Nazis can now be found anywhere, according to Constance
Lowenthal, former director of the World Jewish Congress' Commission
for Art Recovery. Much of it changed hands during or after World War II
with "a handshake, a check and few questions about [previous]
ownership. Art historians must comb through prewar sales catalogs,
news accounts, personal papers, old photographs, government
documents and other sources to determine provenance.

The task is complicated further by chaotic conditions that existed in
Europe after the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945. Many artworks
disappeared, then turned up for sale with suspect documentation a few
years later.However, efforts to find and return looted art improved after
1998, when 44 countries agreed to restitution procedures known as the
"Washington principles," and when museums, governments and
claimants' representatives set up the Nazi-Era
Provenance Internet
Portal which lists some 16,000 artworks believed to have been looted.

The issue hit home with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts when it found
Nazi-looted works among its European paintings. "Portrait of Jean
d'Albon," attributed to Corneille de Lyon, was returned in 2004 to the heir
of an Austrian Jewish collector. In October 2005, the museum decided to
return Jan Mostaert's "Portrait of a Courtier," seized from a Polish
family in 1941, to a museum in Krakow, Poland. The Virginia Museum
could serve as an example to other museums in acknowledging
holdings of suspect provenance and working to restore them to rightful
owners. But one thing is sure : victims of Nazi looting typically need a
strong stomach, a long life, good lawyers and deep pockets to pursue a
claim successfully.

In conclusion, the greatest irony is that, according to Hitler's vision, Linz
was to be expanded into an administrative, cultural, industrial and
transport centre, as well as to become the most beautiful city on the
Danube. La crème de la crème of German architects were entrusted
with the responsibility of realising these plans. In fact, the main building
works that were undertaken were those which served the effort to
produce armaments to continue the war. From A to Z, Hitlerism was
anything but a huge scam.

(1) In 1944, the monthly salary of a Captain (Hauptman) in the Wehrmacht
was 520 RM (Wehrmachtbesoldung + Wehrsold)

(2) Rosenberg's activities were extended, in the West, to France, Belgium,
the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway and Denmark. In the East activities
were carried out throughout the Occupied Eastern Territories, including the
Baltic states and the Ukraine, as well as in Hungary, Greece, and
Yugoslavia. The function of the Rosenberg Organization included not only
the seizure of books and scientific materials specified in the original Hitler
Order, but the seizure of private art treasures, public art treasures and
household furnishings

(3) An inventory can be consulted at the Rothschild Archives in London

(4) A Count Ottokar Czernin Von und zu Chudenitz (1872-1932) served as
Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister from 1916-18

(5) The last Polish Army unit was defeated on 6 October 1939

(6) Another excellent book devoted to the Rape of European Art by the Nazis
can be consulted at
Da Vinci's Rescue
site stats
             The end

Even looting has an end. However, the Nazis kept on
their looting spree until the last months of the war as we
have seen that until April 1944 Dr. Voss was faithfully
reporting to Martin Bormann about his business. During
the ultimate months of the war, the task was not to
organize the looting but to protect it from allied
bombings. The three Schlosses depots's contents were
transfered to salt mines near Salzburg. They were
discovered thanks to a tip from a art dealer in
Luxemburg who told a representative of the MFAA that
he heard at some time that a salt mine was being used.
From that tip, Captain Robert Posey, an MFAA officer,
talk to a young German art scholar who had spent the
war in France and who pretended that he held from
Goering himself that the Alt Aussee salt mines were
being used. Doubtful, Cpt Posey asked why the mines
would be used and the young man did not shake from
the assertion that the famous Ghent altarpiece by van
Eyck was laying down somewhere in that mine.
Eventually, Poser consulted a map and decided to have
a look. The first men to reach the mine were from the
80th Infantry Division of the US Third Army.
The EER files  were contained
in this cabinet in 1945.
This painting by Manet was
rescued by sheer luck at the
end of the war.
Mock up of the Führermuseum in Linz  
Architect  Roderick Fick
Over the years, 29
transports comprising 137
railroad cars carrying 4,174
crates that contained
21,903 items were
shipped out of France
Jean-Francois Lefranc sold 22 paintings to a
certain Buittenweg, who could have been in
reality Vitale Bloch, a Jewish expert and
collector who played a controversial role during
the war. Bloch was said to have collaborated
closely with the Nazis to such a point that he
was declared, like art historian Max
Friedlaender, an honorable Aryan and
exempted from wearing the infamous yellow
star as a result of services rendered to the
Reich. Special Mission Linz eventually bought
262 paintings for 50 million Frs. but Hitler was
furious because the Louvre had the first
choice. The items were entered under the
#3108 in Linz collection. Vichy never paid back
the Schloss family. Out of the 333 paintings
from the collection, 162 were recovered after
the war and given back to the heirs of Adolphe
Schloss who sold several works at auction
during the 50s. As of today, 171 paintings still
have not been recovered, however some of
them have been found in foreign museums or
at art sales
In 1944, Hermann Göring
who was not a connoisseur
£165,000 for the
painting '
Woman Taken
in Adultery
'  by the rarest
of all Dutch painters,
Vermeer. The painting was
found in Emma Göring's
home in Austria. It was later
proved to be a forgery by
Hans Van Meegeren. In
1945, Van Meegeren was
arrested by Dutch
authorities and sentenced
to one year in jail. He died
just nineteen days after his
jail sentence began. Today,
Göring's fake Vermeer is
hidden away in the strong
room of the Dutch State
Collection in the Hague,
never to be shown to the
public or sold.
Philipp Prinz von Hessen here
with Goering in Germany in
1936  helped a lot in the looting
Hermann Gôring exiting the
Musée du Jeu de Paume in
Paris that he visited 20 times to
choose his picks
So except for what Goering bought or confiscated for himself, often
without the knowledge of his Fuehrer, an immense majority of the loot
was stored in three different places : the Schloss Thuerntal near
Kremsmunster (Austria), the Hohenfurt monastery in Czechoslovakia,
Schloss Neuschwanstein near Fuessen [built by the mad Ludwig II
of Bavaria]. At the end of the war, the loot was transfered into three
salt mines near Salzburg, the most famous being
Altaussee, which
was discovered by chance by the US Army and the MFAA (Monuments,
Fine Arts and Archives Section) of the Supreme Headquarters.
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