mercredi 26 février 2014

Appraising 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.

Support for the mission came from President Roosevelt and General Eisenhower. However, they were not provided with gasoline, typewriters, vehicles or necessary authority. This would make their mission very difficult and only possible with determination and good will. The original mission was to ensure that essential structures were not bombed. This would change because they did not determine the course of combat. They shifted to rescuing items after bombing.

The character of each individual involved in the mission acts as a driving force to overcome difficulty. Their lives are young but their passion and dedication for art keep them in the mission. It is a huge sacrifice that goes to the extent of death.

Hitler aimed at creating a huge museum in his home town and thus wanted to plunder what the world offered. His target when he invaded Poland included private art collections, museums and churches. These were the areas where he would get the best art that the world had to offer. He used secret mines and remote castles to keep away the loot as he waited for the war to come to an end. He wished to show Jewish artists that they were not superior to Aryans.

The perspective of World War II presented by The Monuments Men Book is unique from the plain historic narration. Beside the destruction and death that happened, there were personal sacrifices that went beyond conquest. This is a story that tells of determination and sacrifice for nationhood. A movie developed out of the book was released in 2013, December.

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