Posts Tagged ‘Monuments Men’

This too is a story about gifts.

watercolor by ludwig a. joutz

Ludwig Aloysius Joutz (1910 – 1998) was an architect noted for his work with religious and educational institutions primarily in the Washington, DC area.  I learned of this gentleman while researching Joseph Anthony Horne as part of my Interlude Series.

By the time Horne meets Joutz, Joutz had already earned his doctorate. His 1936 thesis is still referenced with regard to medieval church architecture.  In 1939/40 he was awarded a travel grant from the German Archaeological Institute but was perhaps unable to use it because of the outbreak of World War II.   He would be drafted into the German army and become a prisoner of war.

Exactly how he and Horne originally met is unclear.  It might have been as early as the Invasion of Italy where Joutz was captured but certainly by the end of the war they were fast friends.  The earliest document that I’ve been able to find so far is dated May 1947.  In that year, Horne was working with the Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives unit.

As the Monuments Men continued their efforts to find, catalog and restitute items looted by the Nazis and others during the war, Joutz would become a valuable resource.  German-born, he was fluent in English and several other languages and knowledgeable about the art and literary worlds. Horne, American-born and fluent in German thanks to his immigrant parents, was culturally sensitive and knowledgeable about the arts. They apparently worked well as a team.


Between June 1, 1947 and March 1948, Joutz would serve as an operations specialist on books and archives at the Offenbach Archival Depot.  During that period, he and Horne, by then director of the Depot, would become great friends. Horne would aid Joutz in resettling in the U.S. where he would establish himself as architect. They would become godparents to each other’s children and remain friends until the end of their days.


joseph and elsie horne and ludwig and lucy joutz

Throughout out his personal and professional life, Joutz would travel around the world.   As part of those travels, whether for work or for pleasure, he would view his surroundings with an artist’s eye and try to capture what he saw.  Yes, with a camera like his friend Horne, but Joutz would also explore many different forms and techniques of art. He experimented with pen and ink, pastels, watercolor, woodblock prints, papercutting and more.  How do I know this? By a gift he painstakingly assembled for his son.

When visiting Joutz’s son, Frederick, a noted economist, I noticed a stack of suitcases tucked in a corner. Now these suitcases were the old-school, at least 1950’s if not earlier, kind of suitcases that are deep enough to curl up and go to sleep in and strong enough to, well, last a lifetime.  Frederick explained that they contained his father’s artwork. Now at first I thought he meant prints related to his father’s architectural practice, photos of completed projects, etc.  But that was not so.

artwork by ludwig joutz

artwork by ludwig joutz

artwork by ludwig joutz

Inside the suitcases was artwork spanning nearly five decades. Joutz had carefully organized his artwork, everything from sketches on the back of used envelopes to sweeping washes of color applied to delicate Japanese papers.  It was all layered in stacks in these deep suitcases.  The son remembered his father engaged in the process and how he culled items along the way. One can only imagine what the father may have considered not worth saving.

artwork by ludwig joutz

What I managed to see, the content of only two of the many suitcases, was breathtaking in its scope, in the diversity of imagery, and the range of techniques attempted. Each image suggested a story. On some of the pages were notes. What did they mean?

artwork by ludwig joutz

artwork by ludwig joutz

Some of the works were clearly copies of masterpieces, as done by any art student spending a day in an art gallery might do, but many images appeared to be of ordinary people.  Perhaps seen in European town squares or along desert routes when he traveled in Egypt?

artwork by ludwig joutz

artwork by ludwig joutz

artwork by ludwig joutz?

Then there are the images that are ecclesiastical in nature … were they the early concepts or cartoons for church murals? Did the murals still exist or had they become lost and all that remains are these vestiges?

Those are stories that others may choose to research and tell one day. I am grateful that his son allowed me to see just a fraction of what is contained in those suitcases.  And a salute to Mr. Joutz for preserving his own artwork as he helped to preserve the works of others throughout his career.

artwork by ludwig joutz


Sources and Additional Readings …

Fold3.com Holocaust Collection



Read Full Post »

Congressional Gold Medal presented to the Monuments Men

Of the nearly 350 men and women who served in the Monuments, Fine Art & Archives Unit recovering and returning fine art, books and other items looted by the Nazis during World War II, six are still alive.  On Thursday, October 22, one of the youngest of the group, Mr. Harry Ettlinger, now 89 years old, accepted the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of what has become known as The Monuments Men. In attendance were 175 family members of the Monuments Men plus hundreds of others.  It has been my pleasure to learn about the work of these men and women while researching the life of Joseph Anthony Horne. Below are a few pictures from the event where the political parties put differences aside to honor great deeds done in the past and encourage continued preservation of art and culture in these troubled times as well.

Exterior of the Capitol Building

U.S. Army Band Pershing's Own and U.S. Army Voices

U.S. Army Band Pershing’s Own and U.S. Army Voices preparing themselves.

Member of U.S. Army Color Guard retiring the colors.

Member of U.S. Army Color Guard retiring the colors.

Rep. Michael E. Capuano (MA) and Rep. Kay Granger (TX)

Rep. Michael E. Capuano (MA) and Rep. Kay Granger (TX)

Sen. Roy Blunt (MI) and Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ)

Sen. Roy Blunt (MI) and Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ)

Robert M. Edsel, Chairman of the Board, Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art

Robert M. Edsel, Chairman of the Board, Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives

Harry Reid, Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate and Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate

Harry Reid, Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate and Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate

Speaker of the House John A. Boehner about to present the gold medal.

Speaker of the House John A. Boehner about to present the gold medal.

Mr. Harry Ettlinger, Monuments Man, accepting the award.

Mr. Harry Ettlinger, Monuments Man, accepting the award.

Other Monuments Men present at the ceremony were Richard Barancik, Motoko Fujishiro Huthwaite, and Bernard Taper.  Learn more about these amazing men and women at …


Picture of all four Monuments Men at ceremony

Read Full Post »

On October 22, 2015, Congressional leaders will present a Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of the Monuments Men.  The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor the U.S. Congress can bestow upon civilians.  One of the civilians being recognized in this case will be Joseph A. Horne (1911-1987).

Joseph A. Horne

It has been my pleasure over the past few years to research just a bit into the life of Mr. Horne. Through his life journey, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of U.S. and world history.  I’ve been cataloging and sharing my findings on this blog in a series of Interludes.   Mr. Horne served his country throughout his life and part of that service included a very active role as a Monuments Man.  While I hope you have a chance to review the whole Interludes series, following are links to the two specific chapters chronicling efforts made by dedicated men and women during and after World War II to preserve, protect and return stolen works of art and books … efforts that actually continue to this day.

interlude: to protect, preserve and return … if possible

interlude: offenbach archival depot


P. S. I hope to complete the Interludes series by year’s end.  After service as a Monuments man, Mr. Horne continued his career with the U.S. Information Service, interacting with people around the world, rich and poor, literary giants, musicians, and with kings and queens.  “Walking” with him offered me a glimpse of worlds that are no more. I look forward to sharing the stories.

West End Hotel, Bangalore

Press Release Gold Medal Ceremony for Monuments Men

Monuments Men Foundation


Read Full Post »

Here is a link to previous Interludes in our walk though history with Mr. Horne.


Walter Ings Farmer, Director, Wiesbaden Collecting Point

Walter Farmer, Director, Wiesbaden Collecting Point

In his book, The Safekeepers: Memoir of the Arts at the End of World War II (2000), Walter Ings Farmer writes that “The story of the Offenbach Archival Depot has never received the attention given to restoration of monuments … Nevertheless an account of MFA&A activities in the Frankfurt area would be incomplete without a description of the rescue of the literary and scriptural treasures that the Nazis had looted with the same nefarious purposes they applied to art collections. … Looting of libraries became as integral to the Nazis plan for cultural domination as the looting of art collections.

1933 Berlin Book Burning

1933 Berlin Book Burning

He describes how Nazi actions escalated from the 1930s public burnings of the authors they wanted to discredit to “a program of search and seizure among the libraries and archives of the nations that they sought to conquer. … These activities established a pattern which resulted in the eventual accumulation in Germany of storehouses full of other nation’s libraries.

Millions of books would be accumulated, along with a stunning amount of other cultural and religious items collected from across Europe.  Farmer writes of being introduced to Offenbach by “his boss” Captain James Rorimer in the fall of 1945.

James Rorimer

James Rorimer

He took me with him to inspect an abandoned warehouse within the I.G. Farben plant at Offenbach,” remembers Farmer. “This building was under consideration to become to repository primarily for Jewish libraries, archives and the Torahs.” Prior to the warehouse in Offenbach being established as a collecting point, library collections were being stored at the Rothschild Library in Frankfurt. Over time it was clear that infrastructure at the Rothschild Library was inadequate.

Based on his and others assessment of the situation, librarian and MFA&A officer Lt. Leslie Poste suggested that detailed cataloging of the items be stopped at Rothschild and that operations be relocated across the river to the I.G. Farben plant, the site of a five-story, reinforced concrete loft building.

Seymour Pomrenze (center)

Seymour Pomrenze (center)

Pomrenze put into place necessary administrative, transportation, cataloging and storage systems enabling the depot to operate much more effectively.  Professional conservation and preservation labs, a photographic studio and other needed infrastructure was created.  His successor, Captain Isaac Bencowitz, refined a system for photographing ex-libris and library markings found in books.

Isaac Bencowitz

Isaac Bencowitz

The resulting cataloging system would significantly increase staff ability to identify and sort items, identifying country of origin and other markers of ownership .  In the end Bencowitz and his team would complete “two volumes with reproductions of library markings belonging to 4,105 libraries of individuals and institutions in Western and Eastern Europe

and two volumes with more than 1,300 bookplates or ex-libris, including 1,200 German-Jewish, German-Masonic and probably German non-Jewish plates as well as over 100 mostly Dutch-Jewish bookplates.” (F. J. Hoogewoud)

As requests were submitted by individuals, families and nation states seeking missing items, MFA&A staff were able to use the catalogs to help them search through the millions of books and cultural items that would eventually be stored at Offenbach.

Bencowitz, during his tenure as director, used photography to document the operations of the depot and its staff and volunteers.

Staffing the depot was a mix of U.S. military, Allied and civilian personnel, as well as German civilians, and scholars from around the world. In October 1946, Bencowitz received orders for redeployment.  The imminent nature of his departure and shifting priorities in the region for policy and decision-making made selecting a new director difficult.  As an “emergency measure,” archivist Major Lester K. Born and his assistant, Joseph A. Horne, were sent to Offenbach for temporary duty.  Born was to develop an interim plan for continued operation of the depot, a plan that Mr. Horne was to implement.  In short, a plan was finally developed and by January 1947, Horne became the third director of the Offenbach Archival Depot.

Exactly what Horne was doing prior to assuming his new role remains opaque without futher research.  Archival records show him often assisting MFA&A colleagues like Gordon Gilkey, Leslie Post, Lester Born and Paul Vanderbilt with the acquisition of information about available artwork and cultural items.  His fluency in German, facility with “dead languages,” appreciation and knowledge of the arts, and photographic skills would have made him invaluable in the field.  He produced numerous reports about his trips across Germany about what he was seeing and hearing from locals. People were often very open with him.  Following is an excerpt from a field report after visiting libraries in over a dozen landkreise or rural districts:

By 1947, relations with the Russians had deteriorated significantly, adversely affecting the restitution of items to individuals and institutions in Russian-controlled territories, and the exchange of items between the Russian Zone and other Allied Zones.  With plans well underway to revitalize German economy and culture (including denazification), military and intelligence priorities shifted to stopping the Russians.  And so Horne like many within the MFA&A unit followed orders as high level officials made clear that those in the U.S. intelligence sector had full access to depot materials and freedom to act as they deemed necessary.

In February 1947, one month after Horne became director of Offenbach, Lucy Schildkret arrived.  She would later write, “his friends called him Tony. Before the war, he’d been on the staff of the Library of Congress’s photographic division.  Transferred from the MFA&A in Berlin, he was then new to the Depot, having taken over his duties barely two weeks before my visit.  About thirty, very tall, thin, lanky, and blond, he was the only American there.  He was in charge of a staff of some forty Germans.”

In her memoir, From That Place and Time, Lucy Schildkret describes her encounter with Horne as she works to sort, identify and return the YIVO library of Vilna, Poland.  The Yiddish Scientific Institute (YIVO) was founded in 1925 for the scientific study of Jewish life.  Headquartered in Vilna, the institute had branches around the world including the United States. At the start of the war its headquarters were transferred to New York City.

In late 1945, when the YIVO library was identified as being in Frankfurt, visiting Jewish scholar, Prof. Koppel S. Pinson sought permission from the YIVO leadership in New York to distribute, like a lending library, some of the unidentifiable books to Jews living in the Displacement Camps.  It would take time but he would be granted such authority.

A year later, Lucy Schildkret would also be granted authority to work with the books.

The complexities of sorting, identifying and returning books at the scale demanded of the Offenbach Archival Depot become clearer when reading through the declassified documents relating to what happened with just the YIVO library.  For instance, YIVO like many libraries of its size and mission had been the repository of family libraries.  Books at Offenbach were being identified by ex-libris and other markings as belonging to individuals and/or their families but they had in fact been donated to YIVO (or other institutions) by family members.  There are numerous letters between YIVO administrators with U.S. military officials trying to prove the ownership of items.

Though correspondence about the YIVO library begins in 1945, by early 1947 the vast library had yet to be shipped to YIVO in New York.  The reasons include continual reduction in manpower, both skilled and unskilled, at the depot and complex, bureaucratic chains of command within the U.S. military, between the Allied zones and even within the YIVO organization.  In a March 1947 document, Horne reports to his superiors that Miss Schildkret has been unable to examine several hundred thousand unidentified books because she had yet to receive authorization.

Vilna Library During German Occupation, in the files of the Offenbach Archival Depot

Vilna Library During German Occupation, in the files of the Offenbach Archival Depot

In 1938, Lucy Schildkret had studied in Vilna and worked at the YIVO.  Prior to the war, she would return to the U.S. and work as assistant to the research director at the YIVO headquarters in New York.  In 1946 she journeyed to Europe as an educational worker with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC), the largest Jewish relief organization in America. Through this organization she was able to work with displaced persons in the camps.  With her skills in Yiddish and time at YIVO, she was able to discern that books that had been labeled as unidentifiable were indeed identifiable.  But even as she acquired the authority to help identify the YIVO library, she maintained her focus of serving the people housed in the displacement camps, and she would do so with a tenacity that would characterize her career for decades to come.

Schildkret responds two weeks later with a letter that concludes:

Her memoir presents a powerful account of the emotions stirred by working with the contents of the library from a place that she had called home and knowing what had happened to the people she’d called friends as the Nazis destroyed the city.

Eventually, with the combined effort of many individuals in several countries, over 90,000 items would be returned to the YIVO.  Seymour Pomrenze who had been pivotal in streamlining systems at the depot would be brought back to help shepherd the return of these items.  In 1998, Pomrenze shared his personal reminiscences of his experience with the Offenbach Archival Depot and the depot’s considerable achievements restituting and distributing millions of Nazi-looted materials including the YIVO library.

Mr. Horne, the person with whom we are taking this walk through history, would wrap up his tenure at Offenbach in 1948 though files show that he continued to support depot activities until its closure.  In the Cold War world, he would, strangely enough, continue to work with books and even return to his earlier interests in music and photography as he embarked upon a new journey.  One world war had ended. A new type of world war had begun. A new weapon in that war was the exchange of culture and what better place to share all that made up culture — from art to music to literature — than in a library.

More to follow …

Sources and Additional Readings

Cultural Plunder by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR)

What Became of the Jewish Books? (New Yorker, February 2014)

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum — Offenbach Archival Depot

Pomrenze Personal Reminiscence about Offenbach

Mapping the Offenbach Archival Depot

Returning Looted European Library Collections

YIVO Digital Archive on Jewish Life in Poland

YIVO Institute

From That Place and Time: A Memoir, 1938-1947 by Lucy S. Davidowicz and Professor Nancy Sinkoff

Article – Dutch Jewish Ex-Libris Found among Looted Books in the Offenbach Archival Depot (1946) by F. J. Hoogewoud

1939 Photo of Lucy Schildkret in Vilna



Read Full Post »

Previous Interludes

Portrait Eric Stenger, 1906, Museum Ludwig, Foto (c) Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Portrait Eric Stenger, 1906, Museum Ludwig, Foto (c) Rheinisches Bildarchiv

At the end of one letter, Dr. Erich Stenger writes, “I am up to my neck in work again and often regret that we did not get together more while you were here. There would have been so much more to show and to discuss. The director of the Kodak Museum B. Newhall has announced his visit. And when will YOU be returning to Germany?” (excerpt from 1950 letter from Stenger to Joseph A. Horne)

Erich Stenger (1878-1957) was a noted photographic historian and collector.  He trained as a chemist.  He worked during the early days of photography when photography was viewed more as a science rather than art.  In 1905, he would join the faculty of the Technische Hochschule in Berlin as an assistant instructor in the photographic department.  In the early 1900s, he co-wrote papers on The Fundamental Principles of Three-Colour Photography, and Radiation Sensitiveness of Silver Bromide Gelatin for White, Green and Orange Light.  By 1934, he was named to the chair of photography founded in 1864 by Hermann Wilhelm Vogel, a post he would retain until his retirement as Professor Emeritus in 1945.  He began building his photography collection as a student and would do so until the end of his days.

Portrait Franz Grainer, 1920er Jahre, Museum Ludwig, FH 2438, Foto: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Portrait Franz Grainer, 1920er Jahre, Museum Ludwig, FH 2438, Foto: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

His collection was diverse, from landscapes to portraits, to decorative framed items to caricatures about photography.  Beaumont Newhall wrote that “At the time of World War II, his collection was said to be the largest in private hands anywhere in the world.”

Hermann Wilhelm Vogel: Dreifarbendruck nach Verfahren: Vogel-Ulrich. Aufnahme nach Ölgemälde und natürlichen Schmetterlingen 1892 Museum Ludwig, FH 10248, Foto: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Hermann Wilhelm Vogel: Dreifarbendruck nach Verfahren: Vogel-Ulrich.
Aufnahme nach Ölgemälde und natürlichen Schmetterlingen 1892
Museum Ludwig, FH 10248, Foto: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Beaumont Newhall (1908-1993), referred to in Stenger’s letter, was a pioneering historian and first curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Self Portrait at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1970.

Beaumont Newhall, Self Portrait, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1970.

Over his career, he would write five editions of the signature work, The History of Photography.  In 1945-1946, the Roberts Commission would recommend him as a good candidate for the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archive unit.  Paul J. Sachs described Newhall “as one of the best men for library work.”

Newhall’s name appeared on one of the last lists of qualified officer personnel that the Roberts Commission presented to the War Department, indicating that “the only alternative after this is enlisted men.”  Newhall would not be assigned to the unit.  After discharge, Newhall returned to the U.S., continuing his research, lecturing, and curating photography exhibits.  In 1948, he became the first Curator of Photography at the Kodak Eastman House in Rochester, NY and would serve as its director from 1958-1971.

One of those enlisted men who would join the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archive unit was Joseph Anthony Horne.  And as part of that unit, Horne would meet Dr. Erich Stenger and learn of his unique photographic collection. Exactly when and where Horne first met Stenger in postwar Germany is unclear but the friendship they developed, as indicated through correspondence about everything from photography to family, would endure for a decade. That friendship must have stemmed from a mutual love of photography. Horne had been a photographer with the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information (FSA-OWI).

Horne’s MFA&A colleague Paul Vanderbilt, during an Investigation Trip to Interview German Authorities and Inspect Private Papers, reports meeting Stenger in September 1946:

Vanderbilt recommended:

Horne certainly met Stenger at a December 1946 meeting of photographers and photographic scientists “to discuss the present situation of the photographic trade and industry in Germany.” Mr. Horne had been invited to attend by the Berlin Press Photographers Guild.  In his report following the meeting, he echoed Vanderbilt’s recommendations that Stenger be aided in reassembling his photographic collection, a collection spread across a divided postwar Germany.

"Germany occupation zones with border" by US Army - Modified version of http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/other/us-army_germany_1944-46_map3.htm. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Germany_occupation_zones_with_border.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Germany_occupation_zones_with_border.jpg

Germany Occupation Zones 1946

It is unclear from available records how helpful Horne, Vanderbilt and the other Monuments Men were in helping Dr. Stenger rebuild his collection in a post-war, rapidly becoming Cold War, world. What is clear is that this unit of librarians, archivists and those dedicated to preserving and sharing knowledge, felt strongly about helping this gentleman as much as they could.

As the socio-political landscape of Europe changed, and with it the U.S. presence, Horne prepared to move on to other positions within the U.S. foreign services.  Regardless, he and Stenger stayed in touch, corresponding about family and photography, and perhaps even their shared interest in stamp collecting.  Horne would highlight opportunities for Stenger to exhibit photography, and Stenger provided updates on the health of his collection.

“The day after tomorrow I will be going to Switzerland, where I have been asked to come to deliver a few scientific lectures. I will be back home in mid-November. While in Switzerland, where I used to make annual purchases from merchants who knew what I was collecting, I will once again be on the look-out for my collection. Not having been back in eleven years, most of the merchants won’t remember me. Recently I was able to acquire some very special objects here in Germany; considering the awful destruction, I marvel that here and there something useful still pops up.” (excerpt from 1950 letter from Stenger to Joseph A. Horne)

Henry Traut Porträt, München, Museum Ludwig, FH 11936 1932 Foto: Rheinisches Bildarchiv, rba_d036895

Henry Traut, Porträt, München, Museum Ludwig,
1932, Foto: Rheinisches Bildarchiv

In 1955, Stenger’s diverse collection was purchased by the company Agfa, and today it complements a number of other collections as part of the Photographic Collection of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne.  Stenger died in September 1957, and as Beaumont Newhall states in a later editorial, the world of photography lost a foremost historian and collector.


 Sources and Additional Readings

The Photographic Collection of the Museum Ludwig

Image Magazine, 1958, incl. editorial on Dr. Erich Stenger

press page about the Stenger Collection

About Beaumont Newhall (International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum)

Beaumont Newhall (Scheinbaum & Russek LTD)

Oral History Interview Beaumont Newhall

More about Paul Vanderbilt

Source of historical military records

Read Full Post »

Excerpt from Edward Gordon Craig's Book of Penny Toys, 1899

Excerpt from Edward Gordon Craig’s Book of Penny Toys, 1899

One day, as I was perusing the files of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Unit as part of my walk through history with Mr. Horne, I kept coming across the name, Gordon Craig.  In a series of letters, Craig appealed to different agencies seeking the return of items stolen in France and taken to Germany.  In one letter, he even presented a list:

Additional letters had been been submitted on his behalf by noted scholars in the art world, like Thomas Whittemore.

The correspondence, like this one, that first caught my attention was dated 1947.  By this time, many collections of books and papers recovered postwar had been shipped to the Offenbach Archival Depot in Germany, awaiting restitution.  And, by this time, Joseph A. Horne had been assigned as the third director of the Depot.  Horne was contacted and requested to make a search.  His findings:

Further inquiry would reveal that Craig’s property was in the hands of U.S. forces but in Austria, not Germany.  Unfortunately, while it was clear who had amassed the collection, it was unclear to whom the collection belonged, to which institution or even to which country.  But before I learned about that intrigue, I first had to learn about this Gordon Craig.  I was just curious.  Why was this man’s boxes of books and drawings of such interest?

Edward Gordon Craig

Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966)

It didn’t take long to discover that he was one of the most innovative forces in theater whose influence is felt to this day.  A rather renaissance figure, an actor from a distinguished acting family…

as Hamlet, 1897

as Hamlet, 1897

a set designer and theatrical producer who revolutionized the use of light, space and costumes for storytelling

Craig's design (1908) for Hamlet 1-2 at Moscow Art Theatre, directed by Stanislavsky

Craig’s design (1908) for Hamlet 1-2 at Moscow Art Theatre, directed by Stanislavsky

a writer and publisher

who also did woodcuts and other illustrations.

I found many online biographies describing his years of studying, performing,  and teaching, and how he eventually moved to France.  One document even stated, “In 1931 he went to live in France and in 1948 made his home in Vence, in the south of that country, where he wrote his memoirs entitled Index to the Story of My Days (1957).” (National Trust)  But what happened between 1931 and 1948?  In most online bios, and even in this wonderful timeline charting his career, about this time period little is written.  It is the events that take place during this time that establishes Craig’s presence in the U.S. National Archives and in the files relating to the work of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Unit.

Edward Gordon Craig, 1941, by Dora Kallmus

Edward Gordon Craig, 1941, by Dora Kallmus

By the 1930s he had begun building his Gordon Craig Collection of writings and resources on the tools, techniques and artistry of theater.  In 1942 he would be arrested in German-occupied France and taken to a Nazi Concentration Camp.  He would be released, and his collection taken. Soon after, conflicting stories would arise, as evidenced in this letter, about whether or not he’d sold the collection and, if so, under what circumstances.

Joseph Gregor, mentioned in the above letter, had been working with Craig prior to the war.  Documentation suggests that Gregor and others at the Vienna library in some way facilitated Craig’s sell of his collection to Hitler, who wanted to add the collection to his planned museum and library at Linz, Austria. Craig also made claims that Gregor had personally removed drawings from his apartment without his agreement.

It took time and lots of paperwork but it appears that the items dispersed during the war were reassembled as a whole, and an attempt was made to return them to Craig.

In October 1948, MFA&A officer Evelyn Tucker handed over the 40-plus cases comprising the Craig Collection to a French representative.  The cases contained manuscripts, illustrations, back issues of The Mask and The Marionnette Magazine.  By November bills of laden were being exchanged between at least France and Britain to cover the cost of shipping the cases to Paris on behalf of Mr. Craig.

Nearly seventy years later, Edward Gordon Craig artwork and writings are distributed, as collections, in many major museums, universities and public and private libraries.  His vision remains respected to this day.  New articles are being written critiquing his work and his legacy, and exhibits of his drawings take place around the world.


Sources/Additional Readings

Biography of Edward Gordon Craig

Stage Design of Edward Gordon Craig

Victoria & Albert Museum early Craig images

National Portrait Gallery Craig image 1950

Digitized version of Craig’s Woodcuts and Some Words

Digitized version of Craig’s Book of Penny Toys

More about photographer Dora Kallmus aka Madame d’Ora

Beyond the Mask: Gordon Craig, Movement and the Actor

Edward Gordon Craig: A Vision of Theatre

About Thomas Whittemore



Read Full Post »

Nearly one-year after U.S. entry into World War II, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would receive a letter from Harlan F. Stone, Chief Justice of the United States.  He shared the concerns of many in the art and architectural fields at the destruction taking place in Europe.

Bombing of Hamburg, 1943

Bombing of Hamburg, 1943

While Germany must, of course, be defeated, Stone and the others were urging the development of an organization charged with the protection and conservation of European works of art. The organization would aid “in the establishment of machinery to return to the rightful owners works of art and historic documents appropriated by the Axis Powers.”

Cordell Hull, U.S. Secretary of State

Cordell Hull, U.S. Secretary of State

By 1943, FDR would establish this American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in Europe, its intent to operate for three years and to cooperate with the appropriate branches of the Army, Department of State and civilian agencies. Secretary of State Cordell Hull recommended that it be headquartered at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Archibald MacLeish, 1944

Archibald MacLeish, 1944

The Commission would include Archibald MacLeish, Librarian of Congress, Paul J. Sachs, Asst. Director of the Harvard Fogg Museum, and Francis Henry Taylor, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Using this group’s networks of former students, colleagues and peers, experts would be sought to volunteer and help the Commission complete two functions:

Even prior to U.S. involvement in the war, efforts had been made to catalog endangered art and historic monuments. Card files were also compiled of scholars and specialists in the Fine Arts, Books and Manuscripts.  All information was considered significant, from scholarly skills to possible political leanings.

Detailed maps were created and/or collected showing areas to be spared, if at all possible, and aerial photographs were taken.

Example of Map Noting Cultural Areas to Protect in France

Example of Map Noting Cultural Areas to Protect in France

By April 1944, recognizing the need to prepare maps for the protection of art and historic monuments in Asia, as well, the Commission’s name would be altered, and the words “War Areas” would replace “Europe.”  In August, Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts would become Commission chair.  Roberts was one of three Supreme Court Justices to vote against the plan for internment of Japanese Americans during the war.  Over time the Commission would simply be referred to as the Roberts Commission.

Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts

Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts

The Roberts Commission would establish the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Unit (MFA&A) within the Civil Affairs and Military Government Sections of the Allied Armies. Eventually numbering over 300 men and women, the unit’s “Monuments Men” included architects, archaeologists, art historians, artists, curators, and librarians.  During the war, they would be assigned in small numbers to Allied troops in the field.

George Stout

George Stout

Monuments Men had to be fluent in the languages of the places where they were to be assigned.  And to appease concerns about shifting manpower away from fighting forces, they had to be older than the age for fighting eligibility, so most were in their thirties or older. Early days for the Monuments Men, as they traveled with Allied troops, were difficult since they had little authority or supports in place.  That would change somewhat over time as Allied leadership including MacArthur in the Pacific and Eisenhower in Europe made clear that cultural preservation was a priority, though never one to outweigh the protection of soldiers’ lives.

American Zone Poster

American Zone Poster

The preservation and protection of artistic and historic monuments would take place differently in the two different theaters of World War II — Europe and the Pacific.  In Europe, even before the war ended, there would be a focus by Monuments Men like Mason Hammond, George Stout and others on recovering the artwork and cultural items taken by Hitler and the Nazis from wealthy Jewish families, museums, university libraries and religious institutions. The goal:  to protect and preserve these cultural assets, and to prevent the Germans from using the stolen loot to fund German war efforts.

As early as 1937, Hitler’s intentions to use art as propaganda had been clear.  Expressionist and modern art was labeled as degenerate.  Those works not sold or destroyed outright were paraded for years in exhibits extolling their worthlessness. Less than a decade later, these same works would be celebrated in the U.S. National Gallery and other museums around the world.


MFAA Officer James Rorimer supervises U.S. soldiers recovering looted paintings from Neuschwanstein Castle

But before those works of art and their creators would be celebrated, the war in Europe had to end which it did in May 1945. As the Allied forces settled in, the Monuments Men continued to fan out, recovering art, and beginning the long process of cataloging and restitution.  In the Pacific theater, the war would end in August.

Hiroshima 1945

Hiroshima 1945

On August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima. “The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people.”  On August 15th, Emperor Hirohito would announce surrender.

Nagasaki Under Atomic Bomb, 1945

Nagasaki Under Atomic Bomb, 1945

Into this devastated, postwar landscape, Monuments Men like Lt. Walter D. Popham would document damage done by the war and make suggestions for recovery and future protection of cultural assets.  Popham was a noted landscape architect and professor prior to the war.  He’d written books on the gardens of Asia including the tree-lined strees of Tokyo.  George Stout, respected for his work as a Monuments Man in Europe, was especially pleased to learn of Popham’s Japan assignment.  Stout had been one of several Monuments Men to recommend deploying the Monuments Men in Japan after its surrender.

The effort of the Monuments Men in Japan and across Asia is one that remains to be shared more widely.  Peruse just a few of the catalog cards, filed in the National Archives, in which Popham and others describe their perceptions of the postwar Japanese landscape, and their interactions with the populace, it is clear that many stories remain to be told.

With the war’s end, in both Europe and Asia, the role of the Monuments Men would shift.  Governments mobilized to literally rebuild whole nations.  How could one balance (and budget for) the collection, preservation and restitution of artwork while meeting the immediate needs of feeding, clothing and housing millions of displaced peoples?   Former allies were clearly becoming enemies.  What role could art have, if any, in forging new bonds or cementing old ties?

artwork collected at wiesbaden collection point

photographs of artwork collected at wiesbaden collection point

In Europe, by the spring of 1946, three central collection points were firmly established in Germany, in Wiesbaden, Munich and Offenbach.  The Offenbach Archival Depot would specialize in collecting and cataloging Jewish cultural items, books and archives.  The establishment of Offenbach was led by archivist Lt. Leslie Poste.  One of his assistants was Joseph A. Horne.

Joseph A. Horne, 1940s

Joseph A. Horne, 1940s

By February 1947, Horne would become the depot’s third director.  According to the memoirs of Lucy Dawidowicz, his friends called him Tony. “Before the war, he’d been on the staff of the Library of Congress’s photographic division.  Transferred from the MFA&A in Berlin, he was then new to the Depot, having taken over his duties barely two weeks before my visit.  About thirty, very tall, thin, lanky, and blond, he was the only American there.  He was in charge of a staff of some forty Germans.”

His tenure would coincide with one of the worst winters to strike Europe in recent memory.  The Cold War with the Russians was dawning.  The restitution (or not) of artwork and cultural items was to become a strategic tool used by military intelligence and policymakers on all sides.  Individuals, including war survivors as well as surviving relatives of those killed by the Nazis, universities and museums whose collections had been sacked … their demands for restitution and return of art, books and cultural items poured in.  Horne, like many others, would deal with these requests as respectfully as he could even as events unfolded around him that would place Offenbach at the center of one of the most unexpected efforts to return looted cultural items to Jewish communities around the world.

More to follow in July…


Sources/Additional Reading

World War II records from the National Archives searchable here

More information about Hamburg photo

Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, History.Com

About George L. Stout

About Mason Hammond, First Monuments Man in the Field 

About Ernst Barlach

About Lt. Leslie Poste

World War II Photography Database

2014 Degenerate Art Exhibit


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »