Rose Valland and the Monument Men: Preservers of Culture
By Cleo Lampos
The latest movie, Monuments Men, will be released on February 7 and I hope to be one of the first to see it. The Monuments Men were 345 men and women from thirteen nations who banded together to preserve the world’s cultural treasures from the hands of the Nazis during WWII. As an unsuspecting group of museum directors, art historians, curators, artists, educators and architects, they tracked down and returned over five million art and cultural items to their original owners after the war. The treasures of art from many centuries past found their homes again because of these dedicated artists.
One such unknown heroine of WWII who risked her life to preserve art treasures was Rose Valland. When the Nazis invaded Paris, they took over the Jeu de Paume Museum and dismissed most of the staff. Rose and a few assistants worked clandestinely through their quiet and demure manners to document the looting of Europe’s art galleries. For four years, Rose kept copious records of the movements of statues, paintings and other cultural items. When the Monuments Men discovered a huge cache of Nazi loot at the castle of Neuschwanstein, Rose’s documentation ensured that the items returned to their proper owners. She accomplished this at great personal risk.
The first time that I had heard of the Monuments Men was when I read Stolen Legacy, by Diane and David Munson. In their historically accurate fiction, the Monuments Men play a large part in the return of some art pieces and connects to the Dutch Underground. I don’t want to give away the plot, but the book provides a glimpse into the Monuments Men and their desire to preserve the beauty of art. Thanks, Diane and David Munson, for this peek into a group of creative heroes.
Cleo Lampos is author of three recently released novels available on amazon.com or from Oak Tara Publishing.
A Mother’s Song- an historic fiction novel about the orphan train
Second Chances– first year urban school teacher meets challenges
Miss Bee and the Do Bees– special education teacher learns acceptance