At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: "degenerate" works he despised. In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Momuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture. Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world's great art from the Nazis.
When Hitler's armies occupied Italy in 1943, they also seized control of mankind's greatest cultural treasures. As they had done throughout Europe, the Nazis could now plunder the masterpieces of the Renaissance, the treasures of the Vatican, and the antiquities of the Roman Empire.On the eve of the Allied invasion, General Dwight Eisenhower empowered a new kind of soldier to protect these historic riches. In May 1944 two unlikely American heroes--artist Deane Keller and scholar Fred Hartt--embarked from Naples on the treasure hunt of a lifetime, tracking billions of dollars of missing art, including works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Titian, Caravaggio, and Botticelli. With the German army retreating up the Italian peninsula, orders came from the highest levels of the Nazi government to transport truckloads of art north across the border into the Reich. Standing in the way was General Karl Wolff, a top-level Nazi officer. As German forces blew up the magnificent bridges of Florence, General Wolff commandeered the great collections of the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace, later risking his life to negotiate a secret Nazi surrender with American spymaster Allen Dulles.Brilliantly researched and vividly written, the New York Times bestselling Saving Italy brings readers from Milan and the near destruction of The Last Supper to the inner sanctum of the Vatican and behind closed doors with the preeminent Allied and Axis leaders: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Churchill; Hitler, G#65533;ring, and Himmler.An unforgettable story of epic thievery and political intrigue, Saving Italy is a testament to heroism on behalf of art, culture, and history.
In 1943, with the world convulsed by war and a Fascist defeat in Europe far from certain, a few visionaries-civilians and soldiers alike-saw past questions of life and death to realize that victory wasn't the only thing at stake. So was the priceless cultural heritage of thousands of years.In the midst of the conflict, the Allied Forces appointed the monuments officers-a motley group of art historians, curators, architects, and artists-to ensure that the great masterworks of European art and architecture were not looted or bombed into oblivion. The journalist Ilaria Dagnini Brey focuses her spellbinding account on the monuments officers of Italy, quickly dubbed "the Venus Fixers" by bemused troops.Working on the front lines in conditions of great deprivation and danger, these unlikely soldiers stripped the great galleries of their incomparable holdings and sent them into safety by any means they could; when trucks could not be requisitioned or "borrowed," a Tiepolo altarpiece might make its midnight journey across the countryside balanced in the front basket of a bicycle. They blocked a Nazi convoy of two hundred stolen paintings-including Danae, Titian's voluptuous masterpiece, an intended birthday present for Hermann G�ring.They worked with skeptical army strategists to make sure air raids didn't take out the heart of an ancient city, and patched up Renaissance palazzi and ancient churches whose lead roofs were sometimes melted away by the savagery of the attacks, exposing their frescoed interiors to the harsh Tuscan winters and blistering summers. Sometimes they failed. But to an astonishing degree, they succeeded, and anyone who marvels at Italy's artistic riches today is witnessing their handiwork.In the course of her research, Brey gained unprecedented access to private archives and primary sources, and the result is a book at once thorough and grandly entertaining-a revelatory take on a little-known chapter of World War II history. The Venus Fixers is an adventure story with the gorgeous tints of a Botticelli landscape as its backdrop.
The legendary names include Rothschild, Mendelssohn, Bloch-Bauer--distinguished bankers, industrialists, diplomats, and art collectors. Their diverse taste ranged from manuscripts and musical instru#65533;ments to paintings by Old Masters and the avant-garde. But their stigma as Jews in Nazi Germany and occupied Europe doomed them to exile or death in Hitler's concentration camps. Here, after years of meticulous research, Melissa M#65533;ller (Anne Frank: The Biography) and Monika Tatzkow (Nazi Looted Art) present the tragic, compelling stories of 15 Jewish collectors, the dispersal of their extraordinary collections through forced sale and/or confiscation, and the ongoing efforts of their heirs to recover their inheritance. For every victory in the effort to return these works to their rightful heirs, there are daunting defeats and long court battles. This real-life legal thriller follows works by Rembrandt, Klimt, Pissarro, Kandinsky, and others. Praise for Lost Lives, Lost Art: "A heartbreaking and enthralling story of the brutal and mindless Nazi destruction of a singularly cultivated caste of rich German and Austrian Jews and the pillage of their great art collections: a world that was lost and could never be recreated." ~ Louis Begley "Each chapter focuses on a single collector. . . the adulatory profiles [are] matched with an attractive layout and an abundance of well-selected images." ~ Wall Street Journal "The book is meticulously researched, brilliantly and dispassionately written, and is in all likelihood a game changer in the world of art, art provenance, and art restitution that will resound for years to come."~ ForeWord Reviews "Richly illustrated with excellent art reproductions and family photographs, this is a solid addition to works on Nazi art plundering and the world of art restitution, ownership, and property rights. This will be of great interest to readers wanting to know more about upper-class Austrian and German Jews. Recommended." ~ Library Journal