Approximately five million pieces of religious, cultural, and historic artwork and relics were retrieved and returned to their rightful owners by a group of men and women of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Department (The Monuments Men: Saving Europe’s Art: Overview 1). Near the end of the war Dwight D. Eisenhower saw the destruction and told all remaining troops to avoid the destruction of all historic and cultural items, even in the heat of battle (The Monuments Men 2012-10-23 Youtube). Throughout the remaining years, soldiers worked to salvage and discover stolen pieces of art that were taken by the Nazis. Nazis hid stashes in churches, houses, and abandoned mines. Countless paintings from famous artists like Rafael, Rembrandt, and Van Dyke were found and returned to their museums. As well as art, Nazis also collected innumerable amounts of menorahs, Torahs, and other religious scriptures and items. To collect, salvage, and return all of these forms of art and items was the job that fell into the hands of the Monuments Men. Without the heroic hard work and actions of the Monument’s Men throughout WWII, much of the world’s priceless art would have been lost forever.
In 1937, Hitler started his campaign to purge German museums of art he found “degenerate” or “too modern”. This included pieces by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Marc Chagall. His campaign for cleansing ended up confiscating 16,000 pieces of art. “More than 4,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolors, and graphics branded as “degenerate” were burned by the Nazis in March 1939” (The Monuments Men: Saving Europe’s Art: Overview). Not only did the Nazis destroy artwork, but they also sold many pieces in auctions in Switzerland. As presumed, anything t…
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