Looting: the Truth
by Michael Walsh
NOTHING BETTER illustrates the deviousness of media than their stories of art allegedly looted by the ‘Nazis’. The camera doesn’t lie; to television viewers and the media’s trusting readership photographic evidence of German wickedness appears undeniable.
The media’s poison-pen scribes should first have heeded the words of Mark Twain, a far better journalist than they could ever be:
A lie will travel the world while the truth is still pulling its boots on.
Corrupted mainstream media were unprepared for the onset of the Internet’s power to expose victors’ propaganda. Recent research across international archives opens up a Pandora’s Box of real history.
Ralph Keeling of the Institute of American Economics says:
“The sacking of Germany after her unconditional surrender will go down in history as one of the most monstrous acts of modern times. Its excess beggars description and its magnitude defies condemnation.”
Systematic pillaging and looting by the Allies, particularly the Soviet Union, is still a cause of heated disputes between Germany, Russia, and the United States. Most of the stolen artworks have never been returned to Germany.
Images of discovered German artworks shown in tabloids and on television are genuine. However, the captions and stories behind the photographs are since proven to be half-lies or simply untrue.
Pictures of US General Dwight D. Eisenhower and American troops ‘recovering looted Nazi art’ are nothing of the kind. These are pictures of the self-styled democracies’ art experts and allied troops not retrieving — but stealing — Germany’s legitimately acquired artworks.
Thousands of pieces of artwork, artifacts, jewelry, and historical pieces were stored by the Germans in underground caverns. This was done primarily to save these treasures from the total destruction wreaked day and night by more than 1,000 Allied bombing raids.
Artworks that the media now claim to have been ‘stolen by the Nazis’ were legitimate German property. These were national treasures held by German museums and art galleries, and had been discovered or legally acquired by them. What readers and television viewers are in fact seeing is the wholesale looting, the plundering, of German artworks, treasures, artifacts and works of our European heritage.
The German artworks and cultural treasures secured against Allied bombing and then looted after Germany’s defeat included 200,000 works of art that were buried along three kilometres of salt mines, also containing archival material and some three million books. The artworks were not hidden, as hiding such from the invaders was impossible.
Berlin’s State Museum alone lost around 400 artworks after World War 2. The German state of Saxony-Anhalt maintains a register entitled Beutekunst (looted art). This inventory catalogues more than 1,000 missing paintings and books believed confiscated by the US or the Soviet Union.
British troops and the Naval War Trophies Committee also looted German artworks. These included several pictures by German marine artist Claus Bergen, Wreath in the North Sea in Memory of the Battle of Jutland, The Commander U-boat, Admiral Hipper’s Battle Cruiser at Jutland and The German Pocket Battleship Admiral Von Scheer Bombarding the Spanish Coast. Carl Saltzmann’s German Fleet Manoeuvres on the High Seas and Ehrhard’s Before the Hurricane at Apia Samoa and During the Hurricane at Apia.
These artworks were ransacked from the Naval Academy situated at Flensburg-Mürwik. The works of art are documented by a 1965-1966 Ministry of Defence file available in Britain’s national archives. These stolen trophies (“prizes of war”) were sent to various British museums. Five of the looted German works of art remain in the National Maritime Museum in London (NMM).
The work Before the Hurricane at Apia was lent to the Royal Navy’s HMS Calliope in 1959. This painting was ‘lost’ and formally written off in 1979. The National Maritime Museum admitted in January 2007 that “the documentation at the NMM and the National Archives is not complete”. According to spoliation guidelines, the pictures should be regarded as having been “wrongly taken”.
A collection of paintings in the San Francisco de Young Art Museum was part of the loot plundered following the discovery of Germany’s secured art treasures. The de Young museum contains 95 paintings of the 202 looted artworks that are documented as having been shipped to the United States after the war’s end.
Almost all these paintings had come from the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin that in 1956 was renamed the Bode Museum. Rembrandt, Hals, Botticelli and Vermeer were among the artists in this stolen collection. The 95 paintings were valued at $50,000,000 in 1948.
* * *