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"The Rape of Europa" movie/ book for real story behind Hollywood's "The Monuments Men"

The Rape of Europa book & movie for the historically accurate story of the Nazi WW2 pillaging of Europe's art & culture. Will interest those curious re the provenance of some major European art we see in the art museums, and what happened during WW2 to these art works. The Hollywood version is The Monuments Men. But The Rape of Europa gives the historically more accurate version.emphasized text

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10148 posts

Doug,
The book The Rape of Europa can be purchased on Amazon, or probably through your library.
The movie The Rape of Europa can be accessed on Amazon (Amazon Prime for free), but not Netflix.
The Hollywood movie The Monuments Men can, of course, be accessed at the usual sources.
Maybe on YouTube, I didn't try that because I have Amazon prime for the movie, and bought the e-book on Amazon, the story is so fascinating (for art nerds anyway, which I admit to being) that I was glad to have the details in the book that the movie did not contain.

Posted by
3280 posts

Thanks Kent. I've been needing something to watch on Amazon and that sounds interesting.

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10148 posts

Jules,
Free with Amazon prime.
A fascinating and astounding story that touches many of the major artworks we see today in Europe's museums. The movie is 2 hours versus the book for 12 hours of reading, but of course the book contains more detail.

Posted by
3916 posts

The book is great. Don't worry about how long it takes to read it; the story is amazing.

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10148 posts

Jane,
Right, I've done both the book and the movie, the book adds more detail than is possible with a film.

Posted by
171 posts

An interesting fact from The Rape of Europa is that Neuswanstein ( sp) Castle, which was a highlight of some tours, was a repository for stolen works of art during WWII. We toured on Rick's Best of Europe in 21 Days. At no time during the tour was it mentioned . This was in 2009, maybe that has changed.

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10148 posts

Hank,
I have exactly the same recollection from my tour of Neuschwanstein: that it was not mentioned, during tours or in literature made available during the tour, that the Castle was actually a major hiding place for Nazi stolen artwork.

And the American army personnel that had the job of emptying the castle had to hand-carry all the stolen artwork down the narrow staircases and down the winding, steep path to something like 50 Army trucks parked way below the Castle.

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6001 posts

Thanks for bringing this up because I had been meaning to watch it. I just finished watching it on Amazon Prime. It's pretty good but I haven't read the book so don't know how it compares. I really liked the movie The Monuments Men and I understand it's a dramatized version of the story that concentrates just on a small portion of what was done. I expected The Rape of Europa documentary movie to give a broader view with more information but was a bit disappointed that it didn't really have much in it that wasn't in the movie The Monuments Men. I'll have to read the book The Rape of Europa to see how it compares. I will say that the book The Monuments Men that the movie was based on was fantastic and better than the movie because of course books can cover so much more than a 2 hour movie.

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10148 posts

Yeah, The Rape of Europa didn't have George Clooney.

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10148 posts

A thing I realized while viewing the movie The Rape of Europa is that Hitler was only ever in Paris once, for one day, the "secret" trip he made on the day after the Nazis first occupied Paris. At that time he said something like, "I've always dreamed of visiting Paris and now I have." He never went back.

This from a man who for several years, at least, could have gone just about anywhere he wanted in Europe. I mean, if you exclude Germany and Austria (and perhaps Poland), most of the people on this forum have seen more of Europe than Hitler did (also he would have seen parts of Belgium or France when he was a soldier on the Western front in WW1).

Same with Italy. This is the dictator of most of Europe, he was into art, collected hundreds or even thousands of items of artwork for his personal collection, but the one time (apparently) that he visited Italy, he was reportedly visibly blown away by the art museums he toured in Italy, but apparently didn't return to Italy, either.

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357 posts

Thank you Kent for this wonderful recommendation. Just finished watching it on Prime. It was so interesting to see the how important the art was to everyone and the great lengths gone to protect it. Wish I had known about this before I saw "The Lady with the Ermine" in Krakow. It would have added more meaning to it as there was also a handbag exhibit going on at the same time - the one displayed with her, though it matched in color to the painting, was a bit of a distraction.

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6001 posts

Yeah, The Rape of Europa didn't have George Clooney

Why Kent, do you have a thing for George? I don't. :)

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226 posts

Looks like this is also available on Kanopy, a streaming service available through libraries. I haven't watched yet but just sent myself a note to do so. Thanks for the recommendation!

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10148 posts

I'm glad people are enjoying it. I first got interested in the subject when we visited the Ghent Altarpiece last year. The Altarpiece was one of the very first masterpieces repatriated and returned largely through efforts of the US Army.

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11410 posts

Just to note, Robert Edsel's book, "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History" - the one used "loosely" as basis for the movie - was historically accurate and a good read. I also read one of his other books, "Saving Italy" which concentrates just on the the efforts to protect the vast amount cultural treasures in that country during WWII. Highly recommend!!

https://www.robertedsel.com/about

Posted by
3916 posts

And don't forget "Saving Leonardo." Another great read.

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11410 posts

"Saving Leonardo" (Nancy Pearcey, about a different subject) or did you mean Edsel's "Rescuing Da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe's Great Art - America and Her Allies Recovered It"?

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3916 posts

Kathy, you're right, of course. It is indeed "Rescuing DaVinci." Thanks for catching my blunder. Note to self: verify before you post!

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11410 posts

LOL, Jane: been there, done that! You're not alone! :O)

Doug -

How much of Florence was destroyed during the war? Sounds like not
much? AND was Monte Cassino rebuilt?

Yep, Monte Cassino abbey was virtually destroyed and rebuilt. Google up some shots prior and immediately after the bombing.

The Nazis blew up all of the bridges in Florence with the exception of Ponte Vecchio, and it is a city FULL of ridiculously beautiful Renaissance art and architecture.

A fave memory? We had the privilege of meeting Mario Baracchi while his Umberto Dei Ottica Fotografia - the oldest store in Florence - was still open. He was an irresistible flirt (!) and got us inside with a wink, bit of flattery, and a 'lil kiss on this girl's cheek. Thank heavens I fell for his charms 'cause THEN he hauled out his books of personal photos from WWII and the flood of '66 and we spent a fascinating hour or two listening to the stories. Oh, and I bought some spare memory cards I needed for my Canon.

I have a treasured pix my DH took of Mario and me, and this is a similar story someone wrote about meeting him.

http://emahoneyadventures.blogspot.com/2013/06/amor.html

And another:
https://girlinflorence.com/2013/11/05/meet-mario-a-florentine-institution/

Posted by
10148 posts

Doug,
Based on the relatively small physical size of the historical core, Florence may have more famous art and architecture, per sq ft of historical core area, than just about any city/town in Europe!
Starting with the Uffizi (considered to be the best collection of Italian Renaissance art), then The David, and going from there...Florence is paradise for someone into Italian Renaissance art, architecture, and culture!

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10148 posts

I'm glad so many are enjoying discovering this fascinating and mind-blowing story. Previous to my visit to the Ghent Altarpiece, I'd been aware of the basic facts of WW2, the slaughter of people and destruction of architecture, but had only been vaguely aware of the Nazi assault on the art and culture of Europe.

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1504 posts

Fantastic recommendation Kent - I had seen the Rape of Europa series on PBS, and then had the honor to hear Mr. Edsel speak about his book Saving Italy. He was very humble honoring the service of the troops who rescued the art, and passionate about finding the rest. I spent quite a lot of time checking out the list of still-missing art on his foundation's web page...so much is still lost! Because of the TV series, I specifically sought out Lady with an Ermine on my trip to Krakow, which turned out to be one of my most magical art experiences ever.

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10148 posts

I think these lesser known stories, less known than the obvious block-buster topics that we all know about--these are some of the finest benefits of European traveling!

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3916 posts

CL, when we saw the "Lady with an Ermine" in Kraków many years ago, it was the first time I truly understood the difference between seeing an original and a reproduction. Yes, it was a transforming experience.

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6001 posts

And I remember a British women telling her kids looking at St. Marks, "everything you are looking at was stolen".

Do you suppose she also told him that when viewing many of the items in the British Museum?

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2852 posts

Along these lines, I recommend “The Lady in Gold,” by Anne Marie O’Connor, which relates the saga of one woman’s struggle to regain a Klimt portrait of her aunt. Viennese officialdom not only stonewalled her, they treated her contemptuously. She did get it back in the end.
And regarding Nancy’s comment re British art looting, they still have the Parthenon frieze, otherwise known as the Elgin (he the director of the theft) Marbles, and they are refusing to return them.

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3916 posts

Just found out that author Robert Edsel will be speaking at the Tulsa Town Hall lecture series in November!

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7625 posts

"Destined to Witness" is a very good book. Haven't seen the movie, but that is ok. The book is enough.

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11410 posts

....and the found crowns filled with jewels.

One crown, and the jewels had been removed. From the book:

In the next three boxes were prizes of the Prussian monarchy: the
Reich Sword of Prince Albrecht, forged in 1540; the scepter, orb, and
crown used at the coronation of the Soldier King in 1713. The jewels
had been removed from the crown, according to a label, “for honorable
sale."

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7625 posts

Well, Kathy, Doug is a bit of an embellisher with all of his "stories".

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1529 posts

Thanks, Kathy and Jo, for setting the record straight. It’s a disservice to new folks on the forum who might take his inaccuracies as fact.

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7625 posts

There are very good books about Sophie Scholl too, which I enjoy more than a movie as you get all of the facts. She is the most admired woman in Germany. Consistently, year after year. Streets and schools are named after her. She showed the most amazing calm and courage walking to her execution.

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1827 posts

Thanks, Kathy and Ms. Jo; I, too, appreciate accurate, well-researched information. I'll be looking for books about Sophie Scholl. She sounds like a truly amazing woman about whom I know very little.