"Hitler Album" donated to National Archives

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- On the 69th anniversary of the Allied World War II victory in Europe, the National Archives received a chilling reminder of the Nazi's rampage.

They call it Hitler's Album -- lost for decades, and now found. More than 70 pages detailing artwork stolen from Jews, from museums, and from churches across Europe.

The album was recovered for the National Archives by the Monuments Men Foundation.

The American effort to recover those stolen treasures hit the big screen this year in 'The Monuments Men' starring George Clooney.

All told the Nazi's plundered perhaps 4 million works of art.

Robert Edsel, who wrote the book that served as the basis for the movie, says the thefts were all part of the Nazi genocide. "A critical part of this is the humiliation. They wanted them to be alive to tell them as they did to Jews, Slavs and others, you're sub-human, we're going to erase any element that you've ever been here."

Harry Ettlinger is one of just six surviving Monuments Men. There's a picture of him pulling a priceless Rembrandt from a salt mine where the Nazis stashed it and hundreds of other masterworks. "The first (crate) happened to contain the stained glass window from the Cathedral of Strasbourg," says Ettlinger.

The author William Manchester said the Japanese fought for empire, the Brits for glory, and the Americans for souvenirs. This was a souvenir picked up by an American soldier at Hitler's lair: Berchtesgaden.

Prosecutors used 39 of the Hitler Albums as evidence at the Nuremberg trials, but scores more are still missing. This one will remain at the National Archives, so we never forget.

Those catalogs have helped Holocaust survivors and their families recover their stolen art. But thousands of pieces are still missing or un-returned. The Monuments Men Foundation is hoping you'll call if you know where any of them are.

'The Monuments Men' is now available on digital and will be available on Blu-Ray on May 20.


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