Album of art looted by Nazis unveiled

The book, found in an attic, shows some of thousands of paintings stolen for Adolf Hitler.

Associated Press
Published November 4, 2007

WASHINGTON - A decades-old tattered brown leather album with photographs of 18th century paintings offers a rare glimpse into Adolf Hitler's massive looting of artwork during World War II.

The album, unveiled last week at the National Archives, is a compilation of some of the thousands of paintings the Nazis pillaged from their victims and rounded up for Hitler.

"This material is one of the most significant finds related to Hitler's premeditated theft of art and other cultural treasures to be found since the Nuremberg trials," Allen Weinstein, archivist of the United States, said at a news conference.

The newly discovered album is one of two that were found in the attic of the family of an American soldier who had been stationed in the Berchtesgaden area of Germany at the end of World War II, according to Robert Edsel, who acquired both albums.

Edsel, the president of Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, said the soldier had removed the albums from Hitler's home as a souvenir of war.

"These albums, albums 6 and 8 of the series, contain photographs of some of the earliest thefts of works of art from the most prominent collectors and dealers in Paris at the beginning of the war," Edsel said.

He donated "album 8" to the archives and said he plans to donate "album 6" at a future date.

The albums were among nearly 100 such volumes that were created by a Third Reich unit called the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg. The unit looted and catalogued collections for Hitler, who would then choose treasures for the Fuhrer's Art Museum in Linz, Austria.

The archives already has the 39 albums that were used as evidence of Nazi looting during the Nuremberg trials. Until recently, the archives said, it was believed that the missing albums had been destroyed during the closing days of World War II.