The Monuments Men

Monuments MenOver the weekend, I got to take a look at this film, “The Monuments Men,” that someone from my book club suggested…well technically, she recommended the book (on my list of books to read).  The Monuments Men is a story of how a group of men banded together towards the end of WWII to save and reclaim artwork and many items of historical significance that were stolen by Hitler’s army.  In some cases, they were racing to save these artifacts before they were completely destroyed as Hitler’s army retreated.

While some aspects of the movie are accurate, like all films, it was somewhat fictionalized.  It wasn’t seven men looking for the artifacts.  There were some 400 people looking for over five million pieces of cultural items that were stolen from the Jews, museums, churches, etc.  Their mission was to find the pieces and return them to where they belonged.

It was thanks to these men and women that we still can view many of these pieces today.

They couldn’t save them all, because unfortunately the Nazis destroyed many priceless pieces as they retreated.  These are items that are gone forever.  {Imagine the Van Goghs, Klimts and Picassos destroyed.} For more, see 10 of the Most Infamous Art Destructions of World War II.

Thanks to these men and women, they were able to save our culture for after the war.  The world owes their thanks to them that we are still able to view the Cezannes, Renoirs, da Vincis and even Michelangelo’s only statue he ever created (Madonna of Bruges).  Imagine a world where the Mona Lisa was destroyed by the hands of the Nazis.

We are all fortunate that over 500 years after da Vinci created this masterpiece, she still hangs in the Louvre in Paris.  Imagine if Leonardo’s wonder was destroyed by the army of a failed art student (Hitler) just because he sucked at art and wanted to own it all in his new world order.  Instead, she survives.

Watching The Monuments Men, I cringed in disbelief as Hitler’s men destroyed our history…our culture.  It even added to the disbelief when the men discovered a barrel of gold teeth.  Seeing the atrocity done to man and culture at the same time…I’m just thankful the Allies won.

If it wasn’t for the Monuments Men, what would our culture be?  Many thanks to those brave men and women for saving the culture of humanity.  It was prolific how they were thinking of our world after the war and where we would be if we didn’t have culture.  Without our culture, who would we be?

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