Adolf Hitler’s last known album of artworks stolen by the Nazis during World War has been donated to the U.S. National Archives to mark the anniversary of the war’s end in Europe.
The leather-bound “Hitler Album” joins dozens of others recovered by the U.S. Army to identify and return stolen art. The album turned over to the archives catalogued French collections.
Created by the staff of a special Nazi task force, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), the so-called “Hitler Albums” document the unprecedented and systematic looting of European art by the Nazis, a story recently brought to the screen by George Clooney in The Monuments Men film, which will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on May 20.
The ERR was the main Nazi agency engaged in art looting in Nazi-occupied countries. As the ERR looted, photographed, and catalogued French collections, they created albums, including the one being donated. Each page of the album shows a photograph of one stolen item.
After the war, the U.S. Army discovered 39 of these albums and turned them over to the Monuments Men for use in identifying art work to be restituted. These volumes, in the holdings of the National Archives, served as evidence in the Nuremburg trials to document the massive Nazi art looting operations. Until recently, it was believed that the missing ERR albums had been destroyed. Thanks to the Monuments Men Foundation, four additional albums have been recovered, and the fourth will be donated at this event.
The Monuments Men’s Paper Trail at the National Archives
The National Archives holds millions of records created or received by the U.S. Government during and after World War II relating to the Nazi-era looted cultural assets, including the original records of the Monuments Men. These voluminous National Archives holdings document the activities and investigations of U.S. Government agencies involved in the identification and recovery of looted assets, including the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and U.S. occupation forces in Germany and Austria.
The materials also include contain captured German records about looted art, including the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) card file and related photographs.