Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hitler's book of looted art uncovered

A lost photograph album detailing plans for a Nazi museum of stolen art has been discovered by a repair man after he visited the house of a former soldier.
John Pistone, 88, who was an American GI, never knew the significance of the heavy, green leather-bound volume titled "Picture Gallery Linz XIII," but took it as a memento from Hitler's mountain home in Berchtesgaden in 1945.
But the washing machine engineer, a history enthusiast, spotted the book at Pistone's home near Cleveland, Ohio, and made his own checks on the Internet.
He contacted Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, based in Dallas, which had been involved in the restitution of two other similar albums.
Robert Edsel, its founder, went to Ohio and realized the significance of the book.
Hitler, who was rejected from art school and wanted to become a great painter, was obsessed with his art collection, lecturing his staff each night even as the Allies were closing in on Berlin.
Every Christmas and birthday, he was presented with an album cataloguing looted Nazi art that he planned to install in a "Fuhrermuseum" he had designed for his home town of Linz in Austria.
Hitler envisioned the museum rivalling those in Dresden and Munich, and had helped draw up architectural plans, which eventually grew to include a theatre, an opera house and a hotel.
He collected 31 albums in total.
Photographs show him working on plans for his museum, while a model of Linz was moved to his bunker in Berlin.

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