The Monuments Men: Saving Europe’s Cultural Treasures

-So, now we are in the new room, and I just, again, wanted to give a few instructions before I put Robert on camera, and that’s, actually, for all of you out here So what we’ll be doing is, in this program, we will have about 5 minutes or so of introductions and then 15 minutes or so of Robert talking about “The Monuments Men,” and showing us the many images and artifacts related to “The Monuments Men.” During that time, what I want you teachers and students to be doing, you all see the Q&A pod right below me In the Q&A pod, you can type in questions for Robert, and some great questions you could ask him about are the history of “The Monuments Men,” his research and his process to writing these books and also about the film, and so please type in those questions as we go throughout the program When you’re typing in those questions, we’d love to know what grade you’re in, your city and your state so I can announce that when Robert is answering some of these select questions, and we will be doing that after he’s done overviewing “The Monuments Men.” We will be going to your student questions, and that’s how that’ll pretty much run for today, and so, actually, now you all can see the museum on the screen, or one of the buildings of the museum This is the US Freedom Pavilion at Boeing Center, and for those of you who haven’t been to the museum in New Orleans, this is one of our brand-new buildings, and we have been open since about 2000, and we actually started as the National D-Day Museum, and in 2004, we were designated by Congress as now the National World War II Museum And what I do here on a regular basis is I connect with students all across the country, and so we are so excited to be doing that again during this webinar, and now I’m actually going to bring up — Before we get started and introduce Robert, I want you guys thinking I’m going to bring up a quick poll question, and I want to see which of these you most agree on So let me actually drag it out here All right, so here’s the poll for you all Which of these three do you most agree? A, that fighting for art is worth risking one’s life B, I’d fight passionately for other things, but not for art Art is important, but it’s not worth risking your life, or C, no lofty idea is ever as important as a human life And I will give you all a little bit to vote on that, and then, actually, this question will seem familiar I’ll be seeing how you feel at the end of this program, as well So I’ll give everybody maybe another 30 seconds to get their vote in All right It looks like it’s going back and forth a little bit All right Looks like most of our choices are actually for Let me broadcast the results so you all can see them, too For A and B, looks like A has a slight lead on B, or now, actually, they are tied So after listening to this program, and I want you guys to think about this question again, and I will be asking it of you again in the end All right Okay So now, actually, I am going to turn over the program to Mr. Robert Edsel You all might know him You might have his book, this book right here, in your classroom about “The Monuments Men.” He is the author of a couple other books, as well, “Rescuing Da Vinci,” of course, “The Monuments Men,” and “Saving Italy,” all three which you can see on-screen He’s also the co-producer of the film “Rape of Europa.” That was produced in 2007, and he is the founder and president of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, and he’s also on our museum’s board of trustees And, as many of you know, just being released February 7th, “The Monuments Men” is being adapted into a feature film, directed and starred by George Clooney, so you can actually ask Robert all about that as well in the Q&A pod So now, actually, I turn it over to him Thanks, Robert -Good morning -Yep -Good morning Good morning, and it’s great to have all of you all here and talk about this remarkable group of men and women, museum directors, curators, art historians, artists, artists themselves that volunteered for service during World War II to try and save the great cultural treasures of Europe This name, “Monuments Men,” sounds kind of confusing Originally, the idea was that with the war being fought in Europe and the great bombing technology advances of not just destruction but the fires that resulted from a lot of the bombing, these museum leaders and others in this country recognized the great risk to the destruction

of so much of Western Civilization’s great cultural treasures, and they went to President Roosevelt early on and lobbied to create this special unit of men and women Of course, only the men were in combat, but the women performed an important role, gathering maps that aided the Monuments Men and advising Air Force commanders on steering bombing away from some of the great cultural centers As the Monuments officers arrived with troops in Europe, first in Sicily and then Italy and on their way, then with the landings in Normandy, they were trying to affect temporary repairs There was a lot of damage done to churches and museums and other important cultural buildings, and since many of them were architects, they wanted show the local people that they cared about these things, that there was respect for the local cultural treasures, and they did so by trying to fix the damage, at least temporarily, and this won over the support of a lot of the people in Italy and France, Belgium, Holland and other countries As they moved further into Europe, and in particular into Germany, the Monuments officers were able to determine that there were hundreds of thousands of works of art, library books, stained glass, church bells, and other important treasures that had been looted by the Nazis And in the closing months of the war, they started finding, hidden in salt mines and caves and castles, hundreds of thousands of works of art and museum, library books and so on So it was the greatest treasure hunt in history following the greatest theft in history The Monuments officers stayed in Europe for about 6 years after the War trying to sort through all these objects You can imagine the difficulty given the volume, and identify who were the rightful owners Which countries did these things — should they be returned to so that the local countries could try and find the rightful owner and get it back to them, and they ultimately did this successfully, returning some 5 million objects Imagine that, 5 million It’s hard to even get your head around it today So this is the great achievement of these Monuments Men, and I thought maybe one of the things I could do is share with you some video of what it looked like when they went into one of these salt mines It’s a salt mine in Merkers, Germany, just one of the many, almost 2,000 places, the Nazis had hidden works of art, and in this case, gold, gold coins, gold bullion, and it was essentially like discovering Fort Knox The deposit of all of the great financial wealth of Nazi Germany that had been hidden just in the closing days of the war, and there alongside all of these gold bars and coins and foreign currency were some of the greatest paintings and other cultural objects from the museums in Berlin They had been taking there to try and save them from Allied bombing Let’s run this clip -…Germany’s fund reserve hidden in a salt mine, gold and foreign currencies worth millions -We should have sound with that So you see these soldiers finding these gold bars, and there were just bags after bags There were these boxes filled with paper currency that this soldier is flipping through, and then, of course, there were works of art, rack after rack of some of the great paintings, the bust of Nefertiti There weren’t just more modern things There were also important works of antiquity, and this was an astonishing discovery It wasn’t just the Monuments officers, but everybody was amazed to hear this, and the soldiers in the other armies, of course, heard about it, and the competition that you’d expect from one army to the other started, and each one of them wanted to be involved in another of these discoveries So this is how it went in the final couple of months of the War, very exciting, but also very, very, very painful for the Monuments officers because there were two Monuments officers killed in combat These were fellows that had volunteered One was an architect The other was an important scholar and archivist The first Monuments officers killed was a British Monuments officer named Ron Balfour He was removing objects from a church that was in the path of ground warfare and had them loaded onto a cart and was pushing them down the street, and an explosion occurred He was killed, and the three people pushing the cart some 10 feet away survived They weren’t hurt at all, and the other Monuments officer, and I think we have a photo of both of them, was Here we go Ron Balfour is there on the left, a British Monuments officer, and the other fellow was Walter Huchthausen on the right who was from Perry, Oklahoma

He was about 40 years old also, and he was an architect, a very promising architect who left his career to try and do what he could do to save works of art, and in April 1945, just weeks before the War was over, he got a report of looted art and jumped in his jeep to go off and check it out, and unfortunately found himself in a cross fire and was killed by a German’s shots Part of why we ask this question, “Is art worth a life?” these two men sacrificed their life to try and save these things, fighting for a cause, not a particular work of art, but a cause, and it’s an important story So imagine, you know, if we didn’t have Monuments officers back then Imagine the things that we wouldn’t have today Let’s look at “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci Now, those of you may not know a lot about art or art history, but I think the kinds of things we’re talking about here are so famous everybody knows these works “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci painted at about 1492, ’93 that he starts, takes 3 or 4 years It’s a wall painting, a mural, in a dining hall in Milan, Italy, and this is one of his great, great achievements, a work that has been very troubled due to the experimental techniques he used to paint the wall, but nonetheless, it’s survived now almost 600 years, and during World War II, the British and American bombers, not the Nazi bombers, but the British and American bombers wanted to force Italy out of the War from being an ally of Nazi Germany, and without — This is before the Monuments officers have gotten into their positions No one has really thought about what the cultural implications are of bombing a major city such as Milan, and a bomb lands A British bomb lands some 88 feet away from one of the walls of this dining hall, and I think we can put that photo up And you see, on the left, the protection of the works of art were done by Milanese or local officials in 1940, 3 years before this happened on the what-if possibility that perhaps something like this might occur, and so they put sandbags and boards up against the wall They were braced in place by the metal poles that you see, and in August 1943, this bomb landed, as I mentioned, less than 90 feet away, and it blew out the east wall of the refectory, and it caused the roof to collapse So the painting is there behind those wooden boards in the center-left of the photo on the right, and there was no roof It was exposed to the elements, and it was a horrifying scene, and it was clearly a miracle that this work of art survived, just only because of the scaffolding that was there Otherwise, the wall would have fallen down So fortunately, it did survive We know about this painting today, but it goes to show that not only Monuments officers but local volunteers went to great efforts to try and protect their works of art Now, there’s another work of art that I’m sure all of you all will recognize by Michelangelo known as the “David.” “David” is about a 16-foot-tall marble sculpture of this great story of history, and you see on the right, because the “David” was so large and weighed so much, it was impossible to move it out of the building that it was in, the Accademia in Florence In fact, the building was built to house the “David.” It was built around it, and in the foreground of this photo are some other sculptures by Michelangelo knows as the “Slaves.” These figures that look like they’re entombed in brick, and because they couldn’t move them out, the great concern was bombs, British or American, that might be dropped on this building that would cause the roof to collapse and, of course, damage or destroy Michelangelo’s masterpiece So the local art officials put brick tombs around these works hoping that something like that would not happen, and, in fact, it didn’t There’s one other work of art that is pretty famous Most of you all may know the “Wings of Samothrace,” which is a great sculpture from antiquity It’s actually not just one piece of stone It’s thousands of pieces that, over the years, have been glued together and metal poles through it that sits atop the grand stairwell of the Louvre Gallery in Paris, and the concern again in Paris, in 1940, from Nazi bombing, having watched so much of this take place in London, in England, the local officials built this skid and slid the work down the steps to then crate it and take it to villas and countryside chateaus

The thought being, get it out of the city where it wasn’t exposed to the bombing So these are just three prominent examples of works of art that are really icons like the Eiffel Tower or the State of Liberty, that people around the world know and demonstrate the reasons why so many of these things did survive, because people thought they were important and beautiful, and they wanted them to survive for us So I think maybe now would be a good time to take some questions, and then we’ve got some more clips that we can run and a few other images to share with you, but let’s do it while you all have questions -All right, actually, Robert, if you don’t mind, I’m going to start with my question anticipating what some students might be wondering So we have some history students and potentially art students that we are talking with today -Mm-hmm -…and I think a lot of people want to know how you became interested in the topic, and when you were a student in high school, were you interested in history? Was this a topic that — or just history in general, was that one of your favorite classes? Is that when you become immersed in history or…? -Well, I always liked history I mean, it’s a good question I always liked history, and I suppose I was a decent student of history, but I wasn’t a great student I mean, I loved learning I didn’t know that much about art or art history, but it was something I became interested in because my parents took me to museums and took me on a lot of trips They weren’t big art fans, and they just felt it was something that was an important part of growing up and a chance to see things that were beautiful and different And in 1996, about 17 years ago, I moved to Florence, Italy, where I lived for 5 years, and while I was there, I was walking across the Ponte Vecchio, which is one of the five main bridges in the center of the city, and I wondered how, during World War II, with the loss of 65 million people, 65 million, imagine, how so many of the works of art and important monuments could have survived, and who were the people that saved them? And I wasn’t embarrassed that I didn’t know the answer, but I was hugely embarrassed that it had never occurred to me to ask the question, and I didn’t have an easy time finding the answer It was something I later learned really is kind of hidden in front of all of us because these works of art were put back in the cities after the war was over, and things looked largely like they did before the war But we know from the damage that we’ve seen to some of these cities from photos and images and films that it was far, far worse and there’s no way these works of art would have survived if they hadn’t been moved out You take this photo, as an example, of Frankfurt in Germany, very, very destroyed by the Allied bombers trying to punish Germany, to force them out of the war, and you see the great cathedral in Cologne, the structure of the building has survived, but there’s not any glass in any of these buildings and so many of the streets are just rubble piles of brick I think we might have — Yeah Now, this is partly to explain why a lot of these cities weren’t more damaged In Florence — We can go back to that last one — In Florence, the Monuments officers worked closely with the Air Force to try and avoid damaging any of the important targets in Florence You see where this circle is, or almost rectangle, indicates an area of bombing to try and knock out the rail yards or the railroads to cut down on German troops and material being moved to the front, and it was a pinpoint precision target, and it worked You see inside the circle, those little white marks are the bomb drops, so it was very, very successful, but, of course, there were a lot of mistakes made Let’s go to the next slide This is an example of what happened in Florence at the very end of the German occupation in August 1944, and this is a scene I had seen some photos of when I had kind of came across a story You see the Ponte Vecchio bridge, and that’s where I got so curious about this, but you see this bridge, and there is piles of rubble and building and brick some 30 feet high at the very upper portion of the photo You won’t find a piece of glass in any of the windowsills in any buildings in the photograph, and this was a result of the Nazis mining and destroying four out of the five bridges, and in this instance, Hitler, who had visited Florence in 1938, 1940, was so enamored with this bridge, he ordered that it not be destroyed, but to prevent the Allies from being able to cross the bridge, everything around it was destroyed on both sides, and it was a horrible, horrible decision and a horrible loss for mankind because what were destroyed were so many of

the great medieval towers that define the city Yeah, and here’s another of the bridges, and you can see that when the Nazis left the center of Florence on the north side of that river, the Arno River, the city north and south was reunited for the first time in almost 3 weeks, and it was the rubble of the bridge, what once was the bridge, served as a way for people on the north or south sides to cross the bridge and get to their loved ones -Awesome All right Well, I have another question, actually, two that kind of go with each other So ISD 128 in Elk River, they asked, “Are there still works of art hidden around Europe?” And then a Ramsey High School student — Actually a Jenks High School student in Tulsa, Oklahoma asked, “Are treasures still being found?” -Yeah Look Those are both great questions I tell you what Everyone should get out something to write with The Monuments Men Foundation, which is an organization that we founded to honor these men and women’s history and also to re-establish the protection of cultural treasures in future conflicts This is something that was never done after World War II, has created a toll-free number, and the number is 1-866-WWIIART, W-W-I-I Art And it’s an opportunity for anyone who has some work of art or cultural object, an important book, document and, of course, painting, sculpture, anything that looks like a work of art, to contact the Foundation at no expense to them We don’t charge anybody anything We do what we do for free because it’s important to preserve the integrity that the Monuments Men and Women had, and we oftentimes ask them to send us a photograph of the front and back of whatever the object is and whatever information or story they have that goes along with it because we want to illuminate the path home for some of these hundreds of thousands, not one or two, but hundreds of thousands of missing works of art, library books, important historical documents, a lot of which were picked up by veterans bringing them home just as a souvenir, not understanding that there was anything important about it Some were taken by displaced persons By that, we mean people that were wandering across the countryside in Europe just trying to find a way to survive the war So, and then of course, some were deliberately taken So this is a challenge that we face, and we’re asking you, the public, to come forward and help us Be Monuments Men and solve this great theft Help us Help participate in the greatest treasure hunt in history If you have a grandfather or a great-grandfather that fought in World War II and happened to bring something home, ask him about it because we just want to illuminate the path home We like to bring honor to our veterans, and if things were brought home, I don’t really care how they got here What I want to do is put this great legacy to use, find these missing things and help get them back -All right, and great, it looks like I’m getting a lot of really interesting questions about the Monuments Men themselves that I want to get to The first one, I guess, is kind of related to what you were talking about in their legacy Did the Monuments Men receive any awards for risking their lives or any, you know, attention right after the war for the amazing things that they did? -Right Boy, that’s a good question No, sadly, they didn’t, not from our country, not from the United States They did from some of the other countries in Europe that I think had a more acute appreciation for what they had done during the War, the idea that these Americans and British soldiers, of which there were only a handful that were on the frontlines Overall, by the end of the War, there were about 40 Monuments officers in Italy, maybe about 60 or 70 or so in Europe, excluding Italy, and their numbers would swell overall that served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archive sections, it was formally called, maybe 350 or so men and women from 13 nations, but that number is misleading because there were never 350 all at one time Some came in Some left, and so on So there were probably, I would say, maybe no more than a couple hundred at any one particular time, but while the war is going on, there’s far fewer than that, and the idea that these American, predominantly American, and British Monuments officers risked their lives, as we talked about, two were killed during combat, to find these things and get them back, it’s surprising to a lot of people, but it wasn’t — You know, I think for Europeans,

they felt this was a very noble undertaking, and we should stop what we’re doing and recognize them because these works of art that had been stolen were starting to come back due to the work of the Monuments officers In the United States, their work was largely overlooked They stayed in Europe until 1950, ’51, completing their job, and by the time they came home in 1951, there was a new war, the Cold War Korean War was beginning very shortly thereafter, and like most World War II veterans, they didn’t come home and brag or talk about what they did They just went back to work So this story got lost, and then, unfortunately, they weren’t credited That’s something the Monuments Men Foundation has worked very hard to do We have created a — We’ve passed one bill or one resolution, if you will, that just recognizes them, that’s a general recognition, but the main thing we’re doing right now is, we have a Congressional Gold Medal Bill that’s in the Congress in both the House of Representatives and the Senate And I’m sure a lot of you all are not able to vote, but your parents can, and if you go to the Foundation’s website,, and type in your zip code, you’ll be able to press send and send e-mails to your local House of Representative and Senator and tell them you support this bill, that you think the Monuments men and women and their great achievements are worthy of a Congressional Gold Medal and that you would like to see that they vote for them, and that’s how we’re going to get it We’re going to do it because people like you are going to be active in trying to help and honor these heroes that got overlooked It’s interesting I’ve interviewed 17 Monuments officers since I started years ago, and I’ve watched, sadly, some 12 of them die over the course of time, and some of them were very dear friends There are still five living Monuments officers, though, one woman, who’s British, and four men, but the youngest is only 8 The oldest is about 96, so we’re really working on borrowed time, and I’d like to see that their recognition occurs during their lifetime where they have a chance to see the accolades from others -Okay, my next question actually comes from Janice She is a French teacher in Indianapolis, and so you probably know what she’s wondering about “Robert, please talk about Rose Valland, please, who was probably the most famous Monuments Woman.” -Yeah That’s right In fact, it’s a great question, and I love talking about Rose Valland In fact, I like Rose Valland so much, not only did I write about her in my book, we’ve recently published another book about Rose Valland that was written by a senator in France, a lady named Corinne Bouchoux, and that book about Rose Valland we have on one of our websites It’s just an e-book, but it’s a great story This woman who risked her life for 4 years working under the noses of the Nazis She was the caretaker or custodian of this building, this museum called the Jeu de Paume in the center of Paris, and the building was a warehouse, essentially, for all the stolen works of art of the Nazis from great collectors in Paris And tens of thousands of works of art were brought to this museum They were photographed They were cataloged They were inventoried, and Rose Valland was there watching this, day after day, taking care of the building The Nazis knew she was there, but they didn’t realize she understood German, and she would write down, secretly, information about what works she saw come in, where they came from, who was interested in them, and she would write them on scraps of paper, on envelopes, hide them in her clothing, and ultimately take them home with her, and that’s where she appeared to keep everything There were several close calls while she was there A couple times she thought she was going to be caught or killed One time she was convinced she was going to be, but every time she managed very cleverly to kind of slough it off and make it sound like it wasn’t any big deal And at the end of the War, when the Nazis fled Paris, Rose Valland did have this information, and while she did some work with the French Resistance, she was concerned about the problems in France with collaborators, or people that tell you one thing and do something else And so she kept this information She didn’t want to give it to everybody, and one of the — Well, her boss, really, a man name Jacques Jaujard, encouraged her to meet with one of the Monuments officers, a guy named Jim Rorimer, and Rorimer loved France He was great He spoke French fluently, and this is a photo of

Jim Rorimer there on the right, and you can see the character is played by Matt Damon in the film We’ve changed the names, which we’ve done because we wanted to make sure any of the modifications to the story didn’t cast anybody in a negative light, so his character in the film is James Granger, but you’ll know it’s Jim Rorimer in real life And so Rorimer, he loves France so much, and he wants to know what was Rose Valland knows He flat-out asks her, but Rose is in a position that she doesn’t trust him initially She’s not sure what his motivations are, and so she guards this information for months, and there’s this dance, in essence, between the two of them where he’s trying to get the information from her and she’s trying to determine that he’s trustworthy, and in the final months of the War, when Rorimer is ready to go to Germany, Rose Valland turns over the list of all the works of art and the maps of where she thinks these things have been taken to in Germany, and that leads us to the castle of Neuschwanstein Rorimer goes into Germany in early May 1945 and goes to this fairy-tale-looking castle that housed some 21,000 paintings, sculpture, tapestries, pieces of furniture, stolen from the great collectors in France and the Nazi records that Rose Valland thought were there, and he was able to do this because of Rose Valland She’s just — We can’t say enough good things about her In fact, why don’t we show the photo of the castle of Neuschwanstein, and lets run — we have some footage that will let you see what it looked like in 1945 when Rorimer arrived So this is the castle sitting up on this hill in Neuschwanstein It’s about an hour and a half west, southwest of Munich in Bavaria That’s Rorimer actually, himself, holding that piece of jewelry These are priceless pieces of jewelry that a great collecting family, the Rothschilds, own that were part of the loot that was stolen by the Nazis You’ll see paintings and other things that were carried down the steps This great serving platter, made in silver, that had been in the Rothschild family for a number of times So it’s a really horrific moment for the Monuments officers Elation, on the one hand, that they find these things safe, but when they find the records indicating which objects were stolen from which families, you know, there’s a very, very sad moment, too, because some of the families weren’t around to recover their things, and so many of the works of art that they were able to find just represented somewhat of a drop in the bucket of other things that are still missing -Okay, and, actually, I’ve got a few more questions about the Monuments Men themselves I want to get to before we actually discuss the movies a little bit -Well, why don’t we talk about George Stout? -Yeah Sure That’s fine -We can go back over — So the guy who thought of all this is this guy George Stout, who will be George Clooney’s character Stout is much older than most of the other Monuments Men Their average age was in their 40s, which is pretty old for a soldier to be going to war In fact, most of these guys had families They had kids at home, and they had every reason to not go do this They had great jobs, but they felt they had an important contribution to make to save these great things that we enjoy today, and George Stout was so old, he was 48, he had actually fought at the end of World War I, and it was his idea He was the pioneer in the conservation of works of art It was his idea that if we don’t try and protect these things when we go to war, then the new technologies, the bombing technologies, are going to cause us to destroy so many things We’re going to be the goats of history So Stout went to several other museum directors, and they put together some proposals and then lobbied the President of the United States, who at the time was Franklin Roosevelt, and argued that this was an important cause and something the United States should make a dedicated force to try and address And President Roosevelt thought, “You know, this is a really good idea,” but it took a long time, and it took so long, a couple years, Stout kind of gave up on it and figured there’s no way that the government will ever get organized to allow it to work But much to his surprise, the government did, and not only did they do that, but then, of course, when the order came from General Eisenhower, it really colored how Stout looked at the whole effort going from feeling like we should do it, but it’s probably hopeless, to believing that perhaps it was possible, so you see — And here’s really a predominant reason why Because General Eisenhower in late 1943, in December ’43, issues this historic order that is, again, sent out before the Allied invasion of Normandy about 5 months later, and he says in this order

that it’s a responsibility of all of his commanders to protect cultural treasures so much as war allows He does go on to say that to the extent that there’s a work of art that is going to cost someone’s life, you know, he believes that the lives count more, but he also makes the point that too often times, that’s an excuse of convenience, and he’s going to hold all of his commanders accountable, and so this is a terribly important document to the story because now you have the most unusual of things, a combat general fighting a war, trying to minimize damage to cultural treasures It’s really an extraordinary moment -Okay, great Thank you, Robert Okay, so the next few questions I have actually relate to the art itself We have the Academy of Sacred Heart here in New Orleans, Louisiana “I was wondering, after they get to these salt mines, after they get to these castles high up in the cliffs, was the art in good condition by the time they got it all out of there?” And then related to that, I have another question from students at Juvenile Hall “The objects, were they returned or where are they located now once they got them all out of those places?” -Right Well, let’s look at the images of the treasure hunt because you really get a chance to see what this was like You have to consider that some of the salt mines, and they were sometimes copper mines, sometimes they were just caves, castles, some of the salt mines and copper mines were horizontal mines In other words, there’s not much elevation to it You just walk in and walk back several miles, and there are all these tunnel chambers going in different directions, but a lot of times they were vertical mines, and so they’d have to go down in an elevator, into an elevator shaft some 1,000 feet, 2,000 feet, and then it would open up into these great expansive spaces So the areas were ideal for protection from bombing, obviously, but they varied in the ability to properly protect the works of art The humidity was about 60%, which is actually very good for works of art It doesn’t really matter as much to canvases as it does to paintings that are on wood or panel because that wood is a living breathing object It expands, and it contracts, and if it expands too much because things are too dry, then the painting will crack, and so we see here in this photograph one of the great paintings by a painter named Edouard Manet, an early Impressionist painter, artist “In the Conservatory” is the name of the painting that today can be seen in Berlin, at one of the museums in Berlin It was found in the salt mine of Merkers by the Monuments Men, and it was returned to Germany because the Monuments Men followed the policy of General Eisenhower, which was that to the victors do not belong the spoils of war These things will be taken back to the countries from which they were taken Let’s look at another image This is General Eisenhower, General Bradley on the left, General Patton behind General Eisenhower General Eddy is somewhere in the background, all coming to this salt mine in Merkers to see this discovery of the gold bars and the number of paintings because it all sounded so incredible I think they were probably doubtful about it We have a photo, as I mentioned before It wasn’t just works of art Anything that could be stolen that was worth something was stolen, and in this case, this isn’t stolen These are coffins There were four of them, that contained some of the previous leaders of Germany before Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, from the previous 2 centuries, and they were assembled in this salt mine almost like a shrine for the Reich that might be built out of the destruction of the ashes, and it’s a very eerie scene, but the Monuments officers treated it with great respect Their view was whether these things are found in Germany, whether they belong to Germany or not, the key is that they be protected and safeguarded and taken care of And so, fortuitously, they took good care of these things Now, this is really an interesting photo because on the right you see one of our Monuments officers who’s still living, Harry Ettlinger Harry is 88 years old He’ll be 89 next month He’s in great shape, fantastic guy We’ve spent a lot of time with him In the center is a self-portrait by Rembrandt, and it’s one of many self-portraits he painted, but this is a particularly fine and a great example of his ability, and Harry Ettlinger grew up in the town where this painting was housed He was from a town in Karlsruhe, Germany So you may be asking, “What’s an American soldier doing in — What’s a soldier in uniform doing when he’s born in Germany and he’s got an American uniform on?” Well, he was a Jew, and his family was forced out of Germany

before he was beyond 13 years old I think he was about 12 or 13, and Harry had never been able to see this painting in his hometown museum even though it was only a block away because Jews had been stripped of the rights to do any of these privileges we take for granted, in particular just going to the museum So it was a great irony that he would be discovering a work of art like this after having been to a place that he couldn’t go to, and then he finds this painting several, you know, 6 years later in a salt mine I mean, what are the chances of that? It’s really amazing This is a photo of the castle of Neuschwanstein that we spoke about earlier You see Monuments officer Jim Rorimer, going to be played by Matt Damon, as I said, standing there with this little notepad in his hand at the top of the steps watching some of these soldiers carry down some of the — get this — 21,000 stolen paintings, sculpture, pieces of furniture, religious objects that the Nazis had hidden there in the castle of Neuschwanstein So this was a very, very great surprise and great discovery, and so, yes These works of art were returned, but it took 6 years after the war Those that were found at the castle of Neuschwanstein were loaded onto trains, and essentially the Monuments Men ran the theft in reverse They knew where the things went They went, “We’re going to go back to France That’s where most of these things were.” But a lot of the other locations were more difficult because they had things from France, from Holland, from Belgium, from Poland all mixed together -All right The next few questions I see that are coming in are actually about the movie -A-ha! -And so we have a few students actually from Jenks High School They were wondering, “How closely does the movie follow the book, in your opinion?” -Look, I think the movie is fantastic, and I’m so excited for everybody to see it, and I think all of you all are going to have a great time enjoying it I mean, the cast is amazing I spent a lot of time working with George Clooney and Grant Heslov on the telling of the story, and at time there on the set with the different actors I mean, the people that are in this film, you’ll know all of them — Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Matt Damon, Hugh Bonneville, for any fans out there of “Downton Abbey,” and it’s just a wonderful, wonderful film I believe that it respects the integrity of the book It tells the overarching story that I’ve written about, the fact that this was an American- and British-led operation, that it raises the issue that Chrissy asked at the beginning, “Is art worth a life?” It certainly provides some funny moments Let’s face it There is humor in war This is how a lot of the people survived the war, and, of course, having a bunch of middle-aged scholars and academics put on a military uniform to go into combat, that’s got some pretty funny moments to it as I was able to discover in the course of reading these men and women’s letters home during the war That was really a key part of it You’re going to see some incredible scenery, incredible scenes, some great acting, a wonderful story, the greatest theft in history, the greatest treasure hunt in history and really some of the experience that these men and women had in their time in Europe -All right, well, do you think this would be a good time? We could maybe play -Yeah! I think we should do that -…scenes from the film? -I’ve been able to bring with me from Sony, the domestic studio that’s produced the film, one of the clips In fact, we’ve got one that has a couple of interviews with the actors, and George Clooney and Grant were eager for everybody to see it, so we brought it here, and we’ll run it and give you all just a taste of what you’re going to see when you go to the film -The Monuments Men are a team of specialists who are sent to France to retrieve art stolen by the Nazi -They were men that were far beyond the age that they were going to be drafted into the war -And not necessarily being the type of people who you would think of as soldiers -The treasure that we’re after is this art, this thing that you can’t really put into words -It has the power to move you very deeply -Are you a Catholic, Lieutenant? -I am tonight -To go after that art and try to save it is this incredibly noble endeavor -Even today, people are still trying to get it all back to the rightful owners -There’s a race going on -All hell is breaking loose, here -And part of the plot of this film is Hitler’s Nero Decree, which said that if anything happened to him -Everything that they had stolen was to be destroyed It’s your responsibility now -The war is winding down, and everyone is closing in on Berlin -Hitler is dead -They were men who were spurred on by a higher ideal, and all of those things that we take for granted They were asked to do an impossible job -It’s a heist movie, and it’s a war movie,

and ultimately it’s a movie about people who are willing to sacrifice everything to save what is the very best of us, of humanity -I’m so proud of what we’re doing here -We want to make an entertaining movie that takes you to a place in World War II that you’ve never been before -And it’s so rare to do any story that people don’t know -If you destroy an entire people’s culture, it’s as if they never existed -That’s what Hitler wants -And it’s the thing we can’t allow -Frank, we got to go! -To the Monuments Men -So as you all can really see from that video, what these men and women sacrificed, they sacrificed their lives and were truly passionate about finding all of these looted materials and preventing destruction of very famous buildings and artifacts all across Europe So I guess my last question for you, Robert, is what do you think the lasting legacy is of this group? What kind of character traits made these Monuments Men so successful in the face of tremendous odds and a very daunting task? -Well, it’s another good question I mean, there was certainly this sense of shared sacrifice, that we were all in this together and that these works of art mattered I mean, when we think about how these things have ever survived in the first place, I mean, there’s always been wars, and there’s been bad guys out there trying to steal things, but they’ve survived because people in centuries past always believed that they were important for future generations, and they made their effort to try and protect them Look, works of art are largely like little kids They can’t take care of themselves They depend on all of us, and, you know, we see today in Syria and other places works of art that are under attack These conflicts continue They’re never going to end, and so we have to figure out ways to use tools of technology, and this is such a great opportunity for you young people today to get engaged Here in Syria recently, just last April, this great 10th-century minaret was deliberately destroyed in part of their civil war, and it’s something that we’ve seen in Iraq and Afghanistan and, you know, we continue to face this challenge And so I believe the legacy of the Monuments Men and Women shows us what can be done when people work together and, of course, they didn’t have any technology then They were hitchhiking their way around Europe because the Army didn’t give them any vehicles They had no cameras They didn’t have any telecommunication equipment, walkie-talkies, radios just to talk to each other That was rare, and yet they figured out a way to do this remarkable job So I hope that this is a call to action for people today to not only help us find so many of these missing works of art by calling the toll-free number I mentioned earlier, 1-866-WWIIART, W-W-I-I art, which you can learn a lot more about by going to website, or also, those of you that are considering careers, such an opportunity going from to use these great skills of technology, the tools of technology that are out there being used in other areas How do we use those to go where it’s not safe for soldiers to go to record and document not only the theft and damage of works of art but also the people that are responsible for it so we can hold them accountable? We’ve got a great aerial photo from Google Maps of a scene in Syria This is a very tranquil setting, it looks like, in 2011 of areas where there were important archaeological objects, and then 1 year later, in the middle of the civil war, you see how pockmarked the land is from people doing illegal digs, going into these tombs, removing objects, all quite illegally, and this is, of course, one of the consequences of war, in this case a civil war So how do we use drones differently to try and do what’s not safe for soldiers to go in and do when they’re not there? How do we take advantage of the information that we’ve got today to let people know that if you go and do these kinds of things that at some point in time, maybe it’s going to be several years from now, someone is going to call you and track you down and hold you accountable for the damage that you’ve done to things that belong to all of us?

All these things belong to all of us So I hope you’ve had a great visit here at the webinar I appreciate Chrissy hosting this and certainly the National World War II Museum here in New Orleans which is such an amazing place I hope you have a chance to visit In fact, this morning, we’ve announced that in the next couple of years there will be a permanent exhibit of the Monuments Men We’re going to recreate one of the salt mines It’s going to be cool, cool, cool to come and see what these Monuments officers went through, and I hope you’ll have a chance to see the film “The Monuments Men” with George Clooney and these great actors It’s a really, really exciting film, something for everybody, and I know you’re all going to enjoy it, and I appreciate you taking time out of your day to hear more about these remarkable men and women -All right, so what I’m going to do is, we’ll close with, actually, a couple polls The first one is what you’ve already seen Let’s see if we’ve changed any minds here about if art is worth a life So let me actually try to make it a little bigger if my computer wants to cooperate Let’s see here Make it a little bigger, and I want you guys to fill this out So how do you feel now after watching this program? Which one of these do you most agree? And I’m going to broadcast the results, and then I actually will end with a second poll I’ll bring that up in 1 second about — I’m actually curious How many of you out there will see the film? So I’ve got a second poll for that It looks like I, as you can see at the broadcast results, we have a lot of people now answering A, “Fighting for art is worth risking one’s life.” Wow, awesome And while I’m bringing up the other poll, I want you guys to give Robert a virtual round of applause, and you can actually do that on here which is very interesting You see that little hand raising button? Well, if you click underneath that, there is an applaud button, so we’re going to see a lot of people raising hands and applause, so And here’s the second poll question that I’m bringing up right here, and hopefully we’ll make that bigger in 1 second, too It’s, “How many of you will actually see the film?” which opens on on February 7th So, oh, look, Robert We got 100% so far -Well, I’m going to tell George Clooney that, because I know he’s going to be really happy to hear that, and I’ll see John Goodman this evening here in New Orleans, and I’m sure he’ll be flattered, too -Wonderful, and so what I wanted to actually close with is just actually go to another area here You’ll see things will be switching around a little bit with some closing reminders Robert mentioned a lot of great helpful websites, and actually you can find links to those websites right below us, and you can see that Monuments Men web links right there We have the educational website for the feature film We have the official site of the actual “Monuments Men” feature film on there, as well, the Monuments Men Foundation, the documentary film site for “The Rape of Europa” and actually two assets that you can find here, your link, you have lectures from a few years ago and our full oral history of Harry Ettlinger, one of the few remaining Monuments Men Teachers, there’s a couple little reminders next to us, as well, so you can see the Calling All Teachers e-newsletter If you want to sign up, that’s where you go, and you find out information here in our education department and what we’re doing, and I also wanted to announce our next webinar is happening in a couple months, March 27th, that’s also a Thursday at noon, Central Time, and it’ll be about high school yearbooks during World War II We’re launching a new site for students and teachers all examining high school yearbooks