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They would: (1) mount guard; (2) seek the aid of civilians who had special knowledge of the cache; (3) hunt out records of the stored objects; (4) check on their condition and, if necessary, remove them from damp storage places; and (5) make an inventory.
Claims are studied
Recovered objects now are being moved to two huge depositories and several smaller ones. Some claims for restitution have been presented. Some owners are Americans.
Principles of restitution provide that art and other precious materials stolen outright or “bought” with managed currency shall be returned to the rightful owners.
It has been suggested that objects destroyed or lost be replaced by comparable objects in German collections.
Author Robert Edsel notes that fewer than a dozen so-called Monuments Men, primarily volunteers, were on the ground in France shortly after the D-Day invasion in June 1944, with another 25 — including Walter Huchthausen — added for work in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria by the end of the war 11 months later.
Several Monuments Men would go on to play key roles in American culture, including Pvt. Lincoln Kirstein (co-director of the New York City Ballet, 1948 to 1996), Second Lt. James Rorimer (director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1955 to 1966) and Lt. George Stout (director of Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1955 to 1970).
Last year, Edsel published “Saving Italy” (W.W. Norton, $28.95), an eye-opening account of the Monuments Men assigned to rescue and preserve Italy’s art and architectural treasures.
Learn more at www.monumentsmen.com.