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Hitler's Museum: The Secret History of Art Theft During World War II

2.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

One and a half years before the begin of the Second World War during the annexation of Austria in March of 1938, Hitler conceived the megalomaniac idea of creating the largest European art center in his home town of Linz. At the beginning of the war on the 1st of September 1939, not only did his armies advance but also his art thieves began to fan out in their great foray of art plundering; an expedition on a previously unheard of scale began. Not only did the task forces of diverse National Socialist organizations pillage the occupied countries; Nazi bigwigs like Goering also took whatever they felt was valuable.

When the war's tide finally turned, Stalin exhibited the same behavior and had countless works of art taken from German art collections to the East. The Western allies tried their best to limit the damage. Equipped with lists of missing works of art, they searched for and rescued some of what Eisenhower called the great Symbols of Civilization .

This documentary relates the long and eventful journey of an exceptional masterpiece of European art: the Ghent Altar, created by van Eyck, which for the Belgian people represents a national shrine. No other stolen European work of art was brought to so many places and passed through so many hands. The Ghent Altar represents a case study in the history of the art pillaging that went on during the Second World War.

A film by Hannes Schuler


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jan van Eyck
  • Directors: Hannes Schuler
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: KULTUR VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: January 27, 2009
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001KL3H1M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,460 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on February 27, 2010
Format: DVD
This production basically takes a look at van Eyck's Ghent Altar which is Belgium's most prized relic. During the Second World War, this piece changed hands numerous times, and was moved from place to place. The story of this art treasure's startling journey is presented in a rather disjointed fashion here. The focus is not merely on Ghent's Altar as underlying it is Hitler's great quest to gather all of Europe's great art in a museum in his hometown of Linz, Austria. It also addresses Stalin's plunder of of German art collections. It is worth a look but there are better books and production on the theme of looted artwork during WW II and their fate:
The Rape of Europa
The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in HistoryRescuing Da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe's Great Art - America and Her Allies Recovered It
The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Overall disapointing documentary. One of those that use the same "re-inactment" footage over and over and over. The Ghent Altarpiece stuff is good. "Rape of Europa" is a far better one on the subject.
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Format: DVD
This is effectively two different shows on one DVD. The second builds on the first, but includes some of the same material already covered in the first, so if you are watching both it is tedious.

The format did not cover the material as coherently as I had hoped for; the presentation jumped around a good bit, so at times the order things happened in wasn't as clear as it could have been.

I was also disappointed in the lack of depth in the material. While it did cover the Ghent Altarpiece, that was not what most of the time was spent on; it was almost a second thought. Overall the lack of cohesion was a serious problem. Sections were quite good, but overall it was most disappointing.
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The program lacks any of the required organization that surely most have preoccupied Hitler as to how the stolen property was to be centrally gathered and eventually exhibited.
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