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The Rape of Europa

The Rape of Europa is a very interesting book about the events that occurred during World War II. I chose this book because I wanted to learn more about the Monuments Men and the art that was stolen during the war for my 8th grade project. You know that movie about modern artists coming together to join in a special organization to take back the art the Nazis stole from museums and private collections all over Europe. Well those people happen to play a much larger role than they seemed to have in the movie, and during the war the were many other Monuments Men that tried to save Europe’s art, 345 men and women to be exact.

In the Rape of Europa by Nicholas, Lynn H. goes over the past of Adolf Hitler and how he spent years struggling to establish himself as an artist before his political ambitions rose to the surface bringing the Nazi Party to power in Germany. In just a few chapters I learned that Hitler’s artistic view may have affected his nation’s actions during World War II. The Rape of Europa examines the artistic tastes of Hitler and his leading advisors, and how they looted many of the great museums and private art collections of Europe during the course of World War II in order to stock museums built during the Third Reich. In addition, Axis forces (Mainly Germany, Japan, and Italy) actively participated in raids to destroy artwork and artifacts from nations and cultures Hitler regarded as “degenerate.” Near the end of the war, the Monuments Men and other supporters of art saved thousands upon thousands of artifacts the Nazis tried to steal from their culture. In the end, the Monuments Men haven’t recovered all of the stolen art during World War II, there are still many artworks to be found.

Today, in the archives of the National Museums of France is a volume of handwritten notes which chases the journey of the 1600 paintings stolen from the Jewish Parisians during World War II. This volume implies great secrecy noting each work of art that entered the Jeu de Paume, and the name of the family from which it was stolen. These notes are the work of Rose Valland, a dedicated curator, who is today considered a heroine of France, certainly its most unlikely spy, and my favorite character during World War II. While Rose Valland was working at the Jeu de Paume she was secretly listening to Nazi generals, not knowing she spoke German the Nazi generals thought they could talk about their plans in front of her. As a result Rose Valland took advantage of her job and wrote down every single art piece that came through the museum where it came from and where it was sent. When the Allies took back Paris, Rose gave her information to a man named James Rorimer, an important member of the Monuments Men who used her notes to find the missing art.

After reading this book I was full of new information and knowledge of things I never knew before and I was happy that I got to learn about this concept because I have some family that lived in Europe during that time. I would especially recommend this book to other fan of art and people who want to learn more about the Monuments Men if they didn’t quite understand the movie.

The Rape of Europa shows its readers the events that occurred during World War II, and I believe the author, Nicholas, Lynn H., was trying to explain the importance of art through the events he wrote about. How the actions of the Nazis resulting in them taking away peoples culture and history along with the art they stole. Even after 60 years, lost art is still being found, battle damage is still being repaired, all of this is part of the unfinished business of the greatest war in history.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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