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The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War Paperback – April 25, 1995

4.4 out of 5 stars 158 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Every few months you'll read a newspaper story of the discovery of some long-lost art treasure hidden away in a German basement or a Russian attic: a Cranach, a Holbein, even, not long ago, a da Vinci. Such treasures ended up far from the museums and churches in which they once hung, taken as war loot by Allied and Axis soldiers alike. Thousands of important pieces have never been recovered. Lynn Nicholas offers an astonishingly good account of the wholesale ravaging of European art during World War II, of how teams of international experts have worked to recover lost masterpieces in the war's aftermath and of how governments "are still negotiating the restitution of objects held by their respective nations." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this NBCC winner, first-time author Nichols documents Nazi Germany's attempt to cleanse Europe of its "degenerate" art and the Allies' effort to preserve the continent's cultural treasures.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 25, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679756868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679756866
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is more than just a hum-drum listing of works that were taken, lost or destroyed in the years leading up to and including World War II. It is an intriguing and thought-provoking look at the attempted cultural occultation of not just its own nation and ideals, but of the Nazi aggression on the world. The Nazi way of condemning certain "degenerate" works, either Jewish or Impressionist for example, painfully exhibit the ultimate crushing of free thought and expression which were so vital to the Nazi regime's recipe for authoritarianism.
But the underlying Nazi menace is only a part of the suspenseful undertone in this book. The various heart-wrenching stories of the brave souls who tried to protect and salvage the many works of art (on both sides surprisingly) are what give this account a real kick. To me the accounts on the Soviet front were especially remarkable.
My only complaint is that since I am not, as I suspect the majority of the readers are not, art historians, the significance of many of these works directly mentioned is lost. I would like to have seen more pictures of the art work in question. (I have uncovered a documentary in the works based on this book which might allieviate some of this problem, but until then...)
For those interested in the history of World War II and who might have exhausted the typical military accounts, I highly recommend this alternate angle into Nazi repression and its effect on those who lived through it. Heck, I recommend this for anyone who enjoys history.
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Format: Paperback
World War II was unique in so far as war can have different degrees of intensity, scope, or perhaps evil. The Germany of the Nazis was one with an insatiable appetite, whether for killing, inventing crimes so heinous new words were needed, or the absolute fervor with which they wanted everything. They literally wanted everything, whether changed to suit them, or in the case this book discusses, they wanted art, all of it. Their actions went well beyond the spoils of War that a victor generally has taken as his own, either from greed or an imagined sense of recompense for the battles fought. They wanted to change the demographics of the planet, had they succeeded, they would have managed the greatest art theft in History.
It may sound like a bizarre comparison, but the "Grinch" of Dr. Seuss fame came to mind while reading. The fictional character like his Nazi counterparts attempted to wipe out a culture by taking everything. The list of names of Artists includes every Master that ever painted, sculpted, drew, or any artisan who created a work of beauty. Nothing was overlooked; imagine having to return over 5,000 bells stolen from all over Europe. Yes, bells, as I said they took everything.
The book has some great photographs. There is a photo of one of the Goering residences and the Art he had stolen. It may sound bizarre but it looks like a bad yard sale. Any taste he had was in his mouth. It's quite a feat to amass priceless objects, and then display them in such a way and in such numbers, that the result is a garage sale. The picture also illustrates what the whole theft was about, the desire to have stuff, all the stuff you could steal.
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Format: Paperback
The release of the movie “The Monuments Men” is stimulating interest in the topic of art looted during World War II and the efforts made since to restore that art to its rightful owners. Anyone who becomes interested in this subject should read “The Rape of Europa” by Lynn Nicholas. This work was described by Dr. Mason Hammond, one of the original monuments men, as “the definitive work on the subject.” It provided the basis from which this movie was made, and it is based on years of research in the archives of both the US and Europe. It is very readable and tells an absorbing story. The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award for general non-fiction in 1994
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a must for anyone involved in art - any aspect of it!

I was overawed by the preparation which was undertaken by both the Allies and the Axis forces pror to , during, and after WWII! This was one of two books I used for a report on Stolen Art. The only reason I rated this one as four stars is that it was sometimes difficult to plough through Chapter IX (The Red Hot Rake)- the rest of the book was absolutley fascinating. I would include another book -"The Lost Museum" by Hector Feliciano. "The Lost Museum" was easier to read and equally fascinating and portrayed the removal of the art from The Louvre in such a manner that it left me breathless! Read Both!
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Format: Paperback
For anyone who's not an art scholar like me, this book can be a difficult challenge. But if you persist, you will be impressed by Nicholas's investigative powers, stunned by the audacity of Nazis, and perversely fascinated by the protective lengths of museums, artists, and ordinary civilians took to save their treasures from falling into enemy hands.
*** The appropriation of great works of art may not be a crime equal to the holocaust of human lives, but we can begin to grasp the progression of tyranny in stolen property and the systematic imposition on everyday lives. It is a story that doesn't have complete resolution. Even today, works of art remain missing or await return to their rightful owners. Many treasures were destroyed, however, and will never return. It is a haunting echo of other, more heinous war crimes.
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