Appraisal Of The Monuments Men Book

By Krystal Branch

The monuments men book is a story by Robert Edsel about a group determined to rescue as much fine art as possible from capture or destruction during the way with Hitler. The group also includes women and the aim was to save cultural treasures that were about to be destroyed by Nazi fanatics. They had to work fast because there were racing against time.

The process of rescuing and recovering the treasure was complicated by the absence of guiding maps that would give directions to where treasures were hidden. They had to physically visit ruined museums and cathedrals as well as peruse through private notes and journals to get hints. The contribution of Rosa Valland who worked at the French museum was crucial. She got leads from dentists during root canal procedure as well as along rail yards.

It is a story of sacrifice where family men in their middle age desert successful careers to secure cultural treasures. The treasures were by famous artists like Vermeers, Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Van Eycks among others. These artists produced the best paintings in Europe and the world at the time.

The mission to rescue the art involved a lot of risk including exposing their lives to danger. Everything was at stake as long as they could save artifacts from pillage or destruction during war. Such loss would have been detrimental for the culture and art of that generation. Understanding such a delicate matter and choosing to do something about it was phenomenal. The team was made up of educators, curators, art scholars, archivists, architects and museum directors.

The rescue gained the nod and apparent support of General Eisenhower and President Roosevelt. The support was virtual because it did not include authority to direct combat away from areas of interest, gasoline, typewriters and necessary vehicles, among other requirements. While they had set to protect the art centers from destruction, they could not stop their destruction and therefore had to change tact and begin to safeguard them from destruction.

The author offers a lay mans creation of the characters of these individuals. This is necessary considering the difficulty they are facing. It is a journey into their young lives, their passions and goals and how each finds himself in the mission. The extent of sacrifice is huge since some of them give-up their lives for the course.

It is worth noting that Hitler wanted to construct the largest museum in the world by collecting the best works during war. Immediately he invaded Poland, he began an attack on churches, private art collections and museums. This is how he got the finest art and hid it in remote castles and secret mines waiting for the war to end. He wanted to show that Aryan artists were superior to Jewish artists.

The different dimension of the Second World War as exposed in The Monuments Men Book diverts from known history. What is known during war is aimless destruction, but a group comes up to save artifacts that have no monetary value. A movie with a similar title has already been released.

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