Excepting Cate Blanchett’s fictional character and an Ocean’s 11 reference between Matt Damon and George Clooney, Monuments Men was a terrific translation of historical fact into an entertaining, and hopefully enlightening, story for the masses.
As an art historian and writer I’m accustomed to seeing the topic of Nazi-looted art on the small screen, in Indie films, and as the subject of documentaries. However, by producing such a blockbuster, Clooney has returned the last victims of WWII to the front pages. I’ve never been more appreciative of a movie star’s clout, not to mention their reading habits.
Looking for an epilogue, or more information on the looting of art during WWII? Try these books, articles, and films:
“The Rape of Europa,” a book turned documentary by Lynn H. Nicholas outlining the premeditated actions by the Nazi Propaganda and Kunstschutz (art protection) ministries.
“Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis,” a book by Robert M. Edsel, author of “The Monuments Men” chronicling the Allies’ pursuit of Nazi-looted art in Italy during WWII.
“Portrait of Wally,” a documentary by Andrew Shea about a family’s legal battle to reclaim a work of art stolen by a Nazi during the war and now considered a priceless piece of Austrian national culture.
NPR recently wrote this article about the real stories behind the Monuments Men and also mentions the very influential Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP) and the recently discovered Gurlitt cache of early 20th century modern art.