The Monuments Men

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The Monuments Men

Robert M Edsel with Bret Witter

In the midst of all the horrors of World War II, the Allied Forces waged crucial battles in the heart of the great cultural and historical sites of Europe. Adolph Hitler had set his mind on creating the Fuhrermuseum, which was to be the most magnificent art museum in the world. As the German forces fought their way through the nations of Europe, they confiscated over five million cultural objects and ravaged innumerable historical and religious structures. In the wake of such destruction, a group of colorful characters took on the charge to mitigate the damage being unleashed on the churches, museums, and other monuments in the path of the Third Reich. These intrepid and resourceful men became known as the Monuments Men.

Without radios or even a clear chain-of-command, the Monuments Men arrived at the front lines to do what they could to protect the cultural works of history. When signs proclaiming these buildings as “Off Limits” failed to accomplish their desired effect, new ones were placed, warning all comers of the dangers of mines. Without ready transportation to critical areas, one quick-witted Monuments Man enlisted a German Volkswagen without windshields or even a top. He entrusted his life to a car with weak brakes and a battered transmission. Whether by car or in convoys, these men found their way to the hidden German stashes of the great works of civilization.

The book is rich with details of such notable moments as the rescue of Chartres Cathedral from explosive mines, and the safe relocation of the famous Bayeux Tapestry. The greatness of soul of these Monuments Men shines through the chapters of this fascinating book. If you want to see moving pictures and find out more about these remarkable human beings, visit Robert at: http://www.monumentsmen.com/m/blog.

–Kate Calina

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