The Monument Men

The Monuments Men

"Missing men " research project

I am collecting and researching some of the missing Monuments Men. I am a librarian, genealogist and have participate in other military reunion /research projects in the past . This is just a beginning , if you  know or are related to any of these people,  please contact me.

This is my research on the "Monuments Men " , The Harvard Group ", The Committee on the Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas of the ( ACLS )American Council of Learned Societies' and the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives of United States Military government ( MFAA)  (NGCSeptember 2007)


The Monument men

The “Monuments Men” were a group of 345 or so men and women from thirteen nations who comprised the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section during World War II. Many were museum directors, curators, art historians, and educators. Together they worked to protect monuments and other cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II. In the last year of the war they tracked, located, and ultimately returned more than 5 million artistic and cultural items stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. Their role in preserving cultural treasures was without precedent.

The Monuments Men remained in Europe for up to six years after the conclusion of fighting to oversee the complicated restitution of stolen works of art. During that time they played instrumental roles in rebuilding cultural life in the devastated countries of Europe by organizing temporary art exhibitions and music concerts. Art and culture mattered greatly then – and today – to the Monuments Men.

Upon returning home, many of the Monuments Men and women had extraordinarily prominent roles in building some of the greatest cultural and educational institutions in the United States. They became directors and curators of world renowned museums such as the Met, the MOMA, the National Gallery of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and many others. Other revered institutions, such as the New York City Ballet, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts, were the tangible results of ideas of the Monuments Men.


The Committee on the Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas of the ( ACLS ) of the American Council of Learned Societies

In early 1943 a group, known as the American Council of Learned Societies, appointed a committee to address protection of Europe’s art by identifying civilian experts who could liaise with the military. They also prepared pamphlets that detailed known German looting. Theirs and several other similar groups’ entreaties to government officials coalesced at about the same time. On June 23, 1943, FDR approved the formation of the “American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas” widely known as “The Roberts Commission,” after its chairman, Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts. Thus was born the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (“MFAA”) section under the auspices of the Civil Affairs and Military Government Sections of the Allied Armies.

The “Venus Fixers” as they were sometimes called by fellow troops—“Monuments Men” by most others—were mostly young museum directors and curators, art professors and architects who volunteered for service. After the war, many would become leaders of the most prominent museums in the United States. Virtually every major American museum had one or more employee who served as an MFAA officer during World War II. Still, their numbers were ridiculously few when compared to the overwhelming task they confronted. In as much as the MFAA program was an untested concept, the Monuments Men had minimal resources to accomplish their job and little direction other than to inspect, repair, and report on monuments needing protection, and to prevent improper billeting by Allied troops in historic or culturally important buildings. This last task was a constant challenge. There was no handbook to follow. Those with skill or knowledge were given authority to act.

The Harvard Group

Harvard faculty and local citizens established the group after the fall of Paris in June 1940 in order to provide expertise on cultural matters during the war. American and foreign scholars compiled information about cultural areas, monuments, and objects in Europe, and eventually their efforts contributed to the formation of the Roberts Commission.



The Rape of Europa  ( opens Dallas Oct 17 2007)

The Rape of Europa tells the epic story of the systematic theft, deliberate destruction and miraculous survival of Europe’s art treasures during the Third Reich and the Second World War.

In a journey through seven countries, the film takes the audience into the violent whirlwind of fanaticism, greed, and warfare that threatened to wipe out the artistic heritage of Europe. For twelve long years, the Nazis looted and destroyed art on a scale unprecedented in history. But young art professionals as well as ordinary heroes, from truck drivers to department store clerks, fought back with an extraordinary effort to safeguard, rescue and return the millions of lost, hidden and stolen treasures.



Movie Review

The Rape of Europa (2007)- NYT

The Rape of EuropaAt Schloss Neuschwanstein in southern Bavaria, Captain James Rorimer supervises the safeguarding of art stolen from French Jews and stored during the war at the castle (April-May, 1945).September 14, 2007

Art, Lost and Found

by RACHEL SALTZ - The issues raised by “The Rape of Europa,” a documentary about the Nazi pillaging of art and the Allied effort to return it, can’t be conveniently consigned to the dustbin of history. This story is still playing out, contentiously and emotionally, as art is recovered and heirs sue for restitution. (The case of Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, familiar to many New Yorkers, opens and closes the movie.)

Websites :

Rescuing Da Vinci

The Monument Foundation 

Lost Art Internet Database

National Archive - Holocaust

Books :

Rescuing 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
Lynn H. Nicholas (Author)

Nazi Plunder: Great Treasure Stories of World War II  by Kenneth D. Alford (Author), Larry C. Bush

Articles :

The Safekeepers


Monuments List

The Committee on the Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas of the ACLS ( American Committee of Learned Society)

The Harvard Group