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'Rose Valland, la résistance au musée'

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Rose Valland, la résistance au musée


Corinne Bouchoux


January 2006


Born to a modest home, Rose Valland (1898-1980) studied and taught at the Beaux-Arts of Lyon and then in Paris.  She worked at the Jeu de Paume museum from 1932 and found herself alone there in 1940 when the Nazis occupied the museum and used it as a warehouse for looted works of art destined to enrich Hitler's personal collection.  Most of the looted art came from Jewish collectors many of whom never returned from the concentration camps.  

Rose Valland communicated the details of these looted works of art and their place of storage to the Resistance.  By doing this, she was able to have them spared from the bombing which accompanied the end of the war.  She also participated in the evacuation of French public collections which were hidden in the West and South-West of France.

After the war, she joined the army in Germany in order to assist in recovering the looted art.  Until 1953 she also assisted in the reconstruction of German museums.  In 1962 she published her memoirs, 'Sur le front de l'art', which were adapted for the cinema in the Hollywood film, 'The Train' (1965).

Using archival documents, photographs and various personal accounts, this book retraces the journey of this poorly known resistance fighter, whose dynamism and courage is honoured by the Association de Saint-Étienne-de-Saint-Geoirs pour la mémoire de Rose Valland.   

Corinne Bouchoux has, since 1997, been a director of l'Education, Nationale, Historienne and taught at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris (1989-2002).  She is a co-founder of Musea, the virtual museum of gender and the history of women (  She is the author of 'L'Allemagne réunifiée', Syros, 1992, and was the subject of Lucie Aubrac's 1997 book 'Cette exigeante Liberté. Entretiens avec Corinne Bouchoux', published by l'Archipel.

'Rose Valland, la résistance au musée'  is published in French by Geste éditions, ISBN: 2-84561-236-2-LUP 408

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