National Archives Announces Discovery of Nazi Looted-Art Volumes

New York Times 27 March 2012
By Randy Kennedy

The National Archives announced Tuesday that two new leather-bound volumes of an infamous looted-art catalog compiled for Adolph Hitler during World War II have been discovered among the possessions of former American soldiers. The albums were compiled by a special Nazi task force, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, to document the plundering of French museums and private collections undertaken in part for a museum Hitler planned to build in his hometown of Linz, Austria.

The two newly discovered volumes, albums 7 and 15, were among the possessions of the families of Albert Lorenzetti, who served as a corporal in the 989th Field Artillery Battalion, and Yerke Zane Larson, who was a private first class in the 501st Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division. Both men, now dead, are thought to have taken the albums from the Berghof, Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps, in the waning days of the war.

Their families recently contacted the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, a Dallas-based nonprofit organization that has brought attention to the efforts of Allied forces during and after the war to save and recover looted art. (George Clooney has announced plans to direct and star in a movie based on “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” by Robert M. Edsel, the foundation’s president.)

In 2007, the foundation helped find two other volumes of the catalog and donated them to the National Archives. At a ceremony on Tuesday in Dallas, the organization presented albums 7 and 15 to David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States.

“The Foundation often receives calls from veterans and their heirs, who don’t know the importance of items they may have picked up during their service, or aren’t aware that anyone is looking for the items,” Mr.Edsel said. “These albums are just the tip of the iceberg for hundreds of thousands of cultural items still missing since World War II.
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