Books that Inspire: The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel

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I have been trying to finish this book before the movie comes out, on Feb. 7, which I can’t wait to see.   I thought I would post about it now in case anyone who is a fast reader is so inclined to do the same!

This amazing book chronicles the lives of the heroes of World War II whose mission it was to preserve the art and cultural heritage of Europe.  Many in the academic  art and museum community had caught wind of Hitlers grand plan to pillage many of the museums and historical sites throughout the European continent.   Being rejected after applying to the art academy in Vienna by a panel of art experts he believed to be Jewish  always had a devastating  effect on him.  When he came into power he had grand visions of being Emperor of Europe making Berlin his Rome and his home town of Linz Austria his Florence. His dream was to create a monumental art complex along the river in Linz.  This development would include a giant mausoleum to house his tomb, symphony halls, opera houses, libraries and cinemas, and above all an art museum.    All to vindicate his rejection to art school.  The architectural renderings alone were 20 feet long and the model for this grand plan took up an entire room.  With all of this in the works, the plan  was set forth during the war,  to amass the largest art collection in the world to fill his museum.

As early as 1941 in the United States directors of all the major museums were meeting to contemplate if they needed to protect treasures here at home and the logistics of doing so. They were concerned about attacks on American soil and the Nazis robbing museums across the country.   Thus a division of the Army was established, small that it was, to protect historical and culturally relevant sites from being bombed, salvaging anything they could from those that were, and going on the biggest treasure hunt in history to find works that  the Nazi’s had already hidden.

This book is just another reminder of the heroic efforts of the brave men and women who fought for the freedoms for humanity and to preserve it’s cultural legacy.

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