The Lost Masters: WW II and the Looting of Europe's Treasurehouses

Peter Harclerode, Author, Brendan Pittaway, Joint Author Welcome Rain Publishers $27.95 (402p) ISBN 978-1-56649-165-5
This chronicle of the Nazi plunder of Europe's art treasures--and the subsequent fate of those treasures in the hands of the victorious Allies--is a vast, impressive catalogue of the greed, anger and heroism inspired by those works. Harclerode (Arnhem: A Tragedy of Errors) and Pittaway (a BBC journalist) do not shrink from the complexity of their subject. With an almost overwhelming attention to detail, they trace the elusive web of collaborators, opportunists and dealers who exploited the Third Reich's lust for prestigious trophies. Gripping vignettes and revelatory anecdotes illuminate the fates of specific works of art, including the outstanding story of four paratroopers who contrived to rescue the largest cache of stolen art sequestered by the Nazis; the ironic tale of how Reichsmarschall Hermann G ring, perpetrator of countless war crimes, discovered that he had been the victim of a Vermeer forger; and the disturbing fact that the Nazis considered artists like Picasso and Van Gogh to be ""degenerate,"" even as the German army was laying waste to a continent. According to Harclerode and Pittaway's analysis, hope for the recovery of the tens of thousands of plundered art treasures depends primarily on their current possessors' generosity and candor, qualities for which this book constitutes a persuasive plea. But they concede that the victims' quest for full restitution may remain unfulfilled. A thorough assessment of the pernicious actions of the Nazis, this book makes an important contribution to the effort to reverse the Third Reich's criminal legacy. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2000
Release date: 07/01/2000
Paperback - 402 pages - 978-1-56649-253-9
Hardcover - 402 pages - 978-0-575-05254-3
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