A new movie due for release next month tells the story of a special unit of Allied soldiers in Europe at the end of World War II. They were charged with finding and savings works of art and other cultural artifacts that the Nazis had seized.
Officially, this unit was called the Monuments, Fine Art, and Archives (MFA&A) section, but unofficially, they were the Monuments Men. But you don’t have to wait until the movie, also called Monuments Men, is released to learn about them. Greg Bradsher, a senior archivist and a specialist in this period in history, tells one story of the Monuments Men in the latest issue of Prologue magazine.
Bradsher is a frequent contributor to Prologue and an archivist specializing in World War II intelligence, looted assets, and war crimes.
In his article, Bradsher provides an account of how U.S. soldiers found a cache of treasures and called in the Monuments Men.
The most unusual find was a group of four caskets—with the remains of Frederick the Great, Frederick William I, and President Paul von Hindenberg and his wife. What happened to them? Bradsher has the answer.
The movie has an all-star cast: Oscar winners George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Cate Blanchett as well as Bill Murray and John Goodman. Clooney directs and is one of the producers. The film is based on a book by Robert M. Edsel, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.
Several programs at the Archives are planned to coincide with the release of the movie or are related to the Monuments Men.
On Thursday, January 23, at noon we will present a free screening of the film, The Rape of Europa. It chronicles Nazi Germany’s plundering of Europe’s great works of art during the war and allied efforts to minimize the damage. You can also see our Featured Document display, a Monuments Men album.
On February 19 at 7 p.m. in the McGowan Theater at the National Archives, Edsel will discuss his book and the film adaptation along with Bradsher and others. A book signing will follow the program.