Scrapbookpages Blog

January 29, 2014

New movie The Monuments Men opening Feb. 7, 2014

I have been reading the book entitled The Rape of Europa by Ms. Lynn H. Nicholas, in order to prepare for the new movie The Monuments Men which will open in theaters on  Feb. 7, 2014.  You can see a trailer for the movie below.

The trailer for the movie tells us that “the Nazis have been stealing art” and that there are “5 million pieces of stolen art” that the Monuments Men must find and preserve because “Hitler wants to destroy everything.”  Basically, “the Nazis are on the run and they have taken everything with them” according to the movie trailer.  The Monuments Men must find the art and save the culture of the world from the Nazis.  Sounds good to me.

The evil Nazis have stolen all the art in Europe and The Monuments Men have been “tasked” to find it.

What?  The Germans didn’t have any art of their own? They had stolen the art from Warsaw and other places with the intent of destroying it, according to the trailer for the movie.

At one point in the movie, the fictional character, played by George Clooney, explains the importance of the mission of The Monuments  Men:  “If you destroy an entire generation of people’s culture, it’s as if they never existed,” he says. “That’s what Hitler wants and it’s the one thing we can’t allow.”

So the theme of the movie seems to be that a group of American art experts are going to prevent Hitler from destroying an entire generation of culture.  Hitler was an artist himself and he was planning an art museum in his home town of Linz, Austria, after the war.

According to the book entitled The Rape of Europa, the Nazis had stashed the art in a salt mine at Alt Aussee.  You can read what Wikipedia says about Altaussee at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altaussee#Nazi_Stolen_Art_Repository

Note the difference in the spelling of Altaussee.

August Eigruber was put on trial by the American Military Tribunal

August Eigruber was put on trial by the American Military Tribunal

This quote is from page 316 of The Rape of Europa:

The basic legend tells us that [August] Eigruber put bombs in the mines [at Altaussee] with the intention of blowing up everything, and that heroic Austrian Resistance workers removed them and thereby saved the priceless works for humanity. […]

…Hitler had ordered [Alt Aussee] and other repositories sealed and the works of art preserved at all  costs.

[The] next ploy was to try to persuade [August] Eigruber that the bombs would not destroy everything inside unless the mine entrances were sealed.  This would make the bombs inaccessible but the engineers convinced [Eigruber] that [the bombs] could be detonated by a long fuse to the exterior.  […]

Eigruber’s opponents turned to the highest [Nazi] Party authority still available [after Hitler’s suicide] — SS Intelligence Chief Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who was well known in Alt Aussee, where he kept a mistress.

Kaltenbrunner authorized the immediate removal of the bombs and promised to so inform Eigruber. […] On May 5 [1945]  the mine entrances were blasted shut.  Inside, the scattered masterpieces rested safely in the darkness.

This quote is also from the book entitled The Rape of Europa by  Ms. Lynn H. Nicholas:

By the summer of 1943 an Austrian official, Dr. Herbert Seiberl, had completed an investigation of the labyrinthine network of salt  mines in the Salzkammergut, a chic summer resort area high in the mountains of Salzberg. [..] The most suitable was at Alt Aussee where the main chambers lay more than a mile inside the mountain, reachable only by tiny special trains. Seiberl’s belief that the conditions would be ideal was supported by his discovery of a little chapel inside the mine in which oil paintings had been hanging since 1933 without ill effect. [..]

Seiberl was thinking of this place not for the Linz holdings [of Hitler], but for the Austrian collections, now for the first time within range of Allied bombers coming from Italy. […this mine] was immediately claimed for the exclusive use of the Führer. […] The arrangement met with Hitler’s approval. […]

In quite another mood, in August 1944 Hitler had ordered  all military installations, utilities, communications, archives, monuments, food stores, and transportation facilities destroyed as the German armies retreated so that only a wasteland would await the Allies. […] Albert Speer, who had proposed a more realistic program, was removed from office for a time, but eventually managed to compromise with the Führer and change the order for destruction to “disabling” all the while working under Hitler’s orders.

In addition to the scorched-earth order, on every front soldiers and Gauleiters were commanded to fight to the last or face execution, Hitler’s theory being, as Wolff had found out in Italy, that if they held out long enough, the Western Allies would join Germany to defeat Bolshevism. In this scenario Germany would remain intact, and the purloined treasures would be used. They must, therefore, be kept from the enemy as long as possible.  Indeed, in his will, written the day before his suicide, Hitler stipulated that his collections should be given to the [German] nation.  […]

Gauleiter Eigruber of Oberdonau had taken Hitler’s scorched earth decrees deeply to heart and was persuaded that the works of art at Alt Aussee should not fall into the hands of the Bolshevists [Communists] or “International Jewry.”   […]

The story of Eigruber’s fanatic desire for destruction, and the efforts to stop him, has become the legend of Alt Aussee.  […]

Strangely, Eigruber’s plot to blow up the art in the salt mine was not mentioned in his trial as a war criminal by the American Military Tribunal, which I wrote about on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauTrials/Mauthausen02.html

This quote, about August Eigruber, is from Wikipedia:

Right after Germany’s unconditional surrender in May 1945, Eigruber was arrested in the Salzkammergut by the United States Army, and he was questioned as a witness at the Nuremberg Trials. In the Mauthausen-Gusen camp trials, Eigruber was sentenced in March 1946 by the Dachau International Military Tribunal to death by hanging for his responsibility for crimes at Mauthausen concentration camp. The sentence was carried out in the prison yard at Landsberg Prison, Landsberg am Lech on May 28, 1947.