Sunday, January 26, 2014
Himmler Letters Now in Israel
Letters between SS Chief Heinrich Himmler and his wife have surfaced in Israel. They appear to support "the banality of evil" observation of scholars who have reviewed other Holocaust era documents. Will archaeo-bloggers who purport to represent the interests of the archaeological community demand their repatriation to Germany?
Posted by Cultural Property Observer at 4:03 PM
Labels: Blogging, Repatriation, WW II
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From Arthur Houghton:
"Of course they will. Aren't these things cultural property that properly belongs to the country of origin? Precious patrimony for the pusillanimous?' Undoubtedly in need of return to the undistinguished?
I think this story is a valuable reminder that as we prepare to remember the small group of Allied servicemen who in May 1945 were saving 'Monuments, Fine Art and Archives' for us all, there were others intent on stealing private property (which this is) to profit from themselves. These are the very people - from their own ranks - the Monuments Men were trying to stop.
Due to the selfishness of those who took and kept them, for seventy years these items passing from private hands to private hands by clandestine and poorly-documented transactions have been hidden from use by historians.
You two may joke and poke fun, it is a shame you cannot see the wider issues here and the broader relevance of this case to the heritage debate.
I'm don't believe these letters would have been considered archival material. It's good they were saved whatever the circumstances. The present question is whether you and others who support repatriation believe these should be repatriated back to Germany. And, if so, should they go to the State or any family Himmler has left? I think this is a serious question.
Well, I am not sure "archives" is the whole issue, rather this should have been available as evidence - at least until proven not to be (not necessarily implicating Himmler, but other people mentioned). The US soldiers unlawfully stole the material while other documents from that home reportedly went to the Nuremberg prosecutors:
Where are the rest of those documents now? In the Library of Congress, or were they returned to Germany like much other stuff was?
The crux to Mr. Barfords comments and his bias can be narrowed down to these five words....
"The US soldiers unlawfully stole"
Yes, Mr. Barford's views and those of some of the other most ardent repatriationists are tinged with anti-Americanism.
Arthur Houghton asked me to post this:
"Peter, there seems to be a presumption by certain undistinguished people that one size fits all. Everything that one can claim is cultural property must be returned to the state of origin. Perhaps Mr. B should address his comments to the director of Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial where the Himmler documents are on temporary loan and where it is hoped that they will remain. And then he should ask about the "Auschwitz Panel," a painting of a landscape scene made by an SS guard and presented to the camp's senior officer to adorn his wall, and which was found at the end of the war and TAKEN AWAY. B must think the panel should go back to -- where? Poland, where it was created? Germany, since it was created by an SS officer? Whatever, B wants it not in Israel, we know that.
Taking this a step further, there is a lot of cultural property in Polish museums that does not belong there, since it was created in other places and should by B's illogic, be send back. So, perhaps he could do us all a service by providing a list of all the objects that should be stripped from the museums of Poland and returned to their proper origins. For starters. Next come the private collections of looted objects. He should give us a list. We can then decide how to act.
Warm regards, and thanks for exposing these little hypocrisies,
"...as we prepare to remember the small group of Allied servicemen who in May 1945 were saving 'Monuments, Fine Art and Archives' for us all,..." says Mr Barford.
Could this be,one wonders,the same mysterious and hush-hush Unit referred to by Mr Barford that beavered away close to where Allied servicemen slaved,starved and died building the infamous Burma Railway - not to rescue them, but to rescue certain Burmese temples of certain 'trinkets'.
Could Mr Houghton confirm what "panel" he is referring to? Is he not in fact referring to the Bruno Schulz murals from the Felix Landau house in Drohobycz? For the record, that should never have been removed - especially in the way it was done.
For Mr Howland's and CPO's readers' information, the "infamous Burma Railway" was built in 1943.
I wonder though why everyone is discussing (on Peter Tompa's blog) what "Mr Barford" does or does not think, instead of Heinrich Himmler's Diary which seems to be what Mr Tompa wanted to talk about. So where are the rest of the Himmler Papers, in the USA, Yad Vashem, or in Germany?
i have seen alot of nazi related artifacts/papers sold in germany.hermann historica munic have been selling this kind of stuff for years.private letters by hitler,himler,goring anyone and everyone.most of the material comes from relatives but a large chunk has us provenance.i remember a few years ago they had personal artifacts of hitlers with the provenance being "keith wilson kansas city "now i dont know if this wilson was a gi or a general but they didnt have any qualms about listing the us provenance or selling the pieces.
as to this monuments men film,hear in the uk there were some relatives of the real monuments men who had some grievances.ronald balfour a british academic,was one of only two monuments men who died trying to protect works of art and not even a mention of him in the film. many people are upset with the fictional accounts hollywood scriptwriters produce. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2542119/How-Hollywood-wrote-real-Monuments-Man-history-British-academic-gave-life-protect-art-Nazis-doesnt-mention-new-George-Clooney-blockbuster.html
sadly this is a recurrent theme in hollywood,where true factual events are spun so much that the lines between fiction and the truth become blurred,a bit like cultural property politics.
Hi Kyri, I'm really no expert on Nazi artifacts or Holocaust era art, but as for the movie, I've heard there is a British character but he is a "composite' of several real UK monuments men. This happens in a bunch of historical movies. Obviously, they also play with the facts. I've heard truth is the first casualty of war, so too movie making I suppose. Peter
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