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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
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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. Happily they lost, or the world's great art would have become the personal property of the artistically challenged moral degenerates of the Third Reich.
Much more intriguing was Ms. Nicholas's treatment of how so much art was preserved, hidden, and protected. A photograph of DaVinci's "Last Supper", or better said the protective covering, is simply amazing. So too are the photos of American Soldiers casually posing with a Goya, or standing with The Ghent Altarpiece. Aerial photographs of destroyed cities where virtually all that was saved was the Art.
There are also troubling events after the War that remain to the present. So much art was stolen yet again by the Victors, some has reappeared, and much has not. Even the custody that was taken of many works after the War by this Country, and displayed at our National Galleries is an event I would hope we would never again repeat. The value of these objects, the tons of precious metals, and other items are beyond calculation. Hopefully with the changes in Europe and the Former Soviet Union more art will find it's way back to where it originally resided.
In the end all the effort the Nazis expended on their desire to feed there egos probably saved many, many pieces of art. I am in no way suggesting what they did was correct. If they thought they were saving art for future generations of people and not their superior race of automatons, they would have destroyed it. And the Corporal's fondness for Paris didn't hurt either.
A very well written and interesting book for the art lover, or for fans of well crafted History.
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!
*** 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.