Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #791 They May Not Know Art, but They Know What They Like

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

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Side 1  Side 2

NB: This descrip­tion con­tains mate­r­i­al not includ­ed in the orig­i­nal pro­gram.

Intro­duc­tion: Explor­ing past and present, this pro­gram exam­ines a detailed, schol­ar­ly work­ing hypoth­e­sis by authors Simon Dun­stan and Ger­rard Williams con­cern­ing the pos­si­ble escape of Adolf Hitler at the end of World War II. (Note that the authors began this inves­ti­ga­tion as an explo­ration of some­thing they con­sid­ered to be no more than a “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry” and wound up being an in-depth analy­sis and inves­ti­ga­tion. They view the escape as a strong pos­si­bil­i­ty.)

The authors posit that the key play­ers in the real­iza­tion of Aktion Feurland–the code-name for the oper­a­tion facil­i­tat­ing Hitler’s escape to Patag­o­nia, Argenti­na (“Tier­ra del Fuego”)–were names well known to reg­u­lar lis­ten­ers and users of this web­site: Allen Dulles on the Allied side and Mar­tin Bor­mann for the Third Reich. (The authors give great cre­dence to Paul Man­ning’s work and ref­er­ence it heav­i­ly.)

Cen­tered on a quid pro quo arrange­ment, the authors hypoth­e­size that Aktion Feur­land involved the trans­fer of Nazi tech­nol­o­gy to the U.S. and the West (known as Project Paper­clip) and the sav­ing of price­less works of art from destruc­tion. In return, Dulles  et al guar­an­teed the safe pas­sage of Hitler, Eva Braun, SS Gen­er­al Her­mann Fegelein (Braun’s broth­er in law), Gen­er­al Hein­rich Muller (head of the Gestapo) and Bor­mann him­self.

Note that doc­u­ments from the late 1940’s on Hitler and his pos­si­ble escape and where­abouts at that time are STILL clas­si­fied, the bet­ter part of a cen­tu­ry after the end of World War II.

 Stal­in and Gen­er­al Zhukov (the Red Army’s top gen­er­al) did­n’t believe that Hitler was dead. Gen­er­al Dwight D. Eisen­how­er was deeply skep­ti­cal, as well.

In the con­text of the work­ing hypoth­e­sis pre­sent­ed in the Dunstan/Williams text, a case that broke in Ger­many in late 2013 assumes poten­tial­ly larg­er sig­nif­i­cance.

A recent dis­clo­sure that one Cor­nelius Gurlitt had many mil­lions of dol­lars worth of art stashed in what was described as his “dingy” Munich apart­ment has pro­duced a num­ber of inter­est­ing points of inquiry. The art appears to have been a por­tion of Nazi plun­der accu­mu­lat­ed dur­ing World War II by Cor­nelius’ father Gurlitt.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  • The han­dling of the Gurlitt case by the Ger­man author­i­ties puz­zled many onlook­ers and ana­lysts. Among the odd­i­ties” . . . . Why did the Ger­man author­i­ties let near­ly two years pass before such a siz­able find was dis­closed? What will become of the recov­ered works of art? Did Mr. [Cor­nelius] Gurlitt con­tin­ue to make sales even after the raid? And where is he today? . . .”
  • It turned out that Cor­nelius Gurlit­t’s father Hilde­brand had sold art­works for Nazi pro­pa­gan­da min­is­ter Joseph Goebbels to gen­er­ate hard cur­ren­cy for the Third Reich. ” . . . . Yet he [Hilde­brand Gurlitt] was also one of the few Ger­mans grant­ed per­mis­sion by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s pro­pa­gan­da chief, to sell con­fis­cat­ed art. Sales to for­eign buy­ers were meant to fill Nazi cof­fers, but art his­to­ri­ans have doc­u­ment­ed many sales in Ger­many, as well as pro­ceeds pock­et­ed by the deal­ers involved. . . .”
  • Now being por­trayed as some­thing of a “lone nut,” Cor­nelius Hilde­brand main­tained a Swiss bank account and had no records with the Munich police depart­ment. (In Ger­many, every cit­i­zen is required to reg­is­ter with the local police admin­is­tra­tion.) ” . . .  Despite his seclu­sion, Mr. Gurlitt clear­ly cal­cu­lat­ed his risks. When Ger­man cus­toms offi­cers ques­tioned him in 2010 on a train to Munich from Switzer­land, where he is known to have a bank account and has sold at least one work, they dis­cov­ered he was car­ry­ing €9,000, just below the legal lim­it. His exces­sive­ly shy man­ner nonethe­less set off alarm bells. Their vol­ume increased when inves­ti­ga­tors dis­cov­ered lat­er that Mr. Gurlitt did not exist, bureau­crat­i­cal­ly speak­ing. He was not list­ed in Munich’s reg­istry of res­i­dents or in oth­er offi­cial records. . . . ”
  • Note that the younger Gurlitt con­tin­ued to sell art works, the­o­ret­i­cal­ly in order to finance his health care as he got old­er. Ger­many has uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age. On one recent sale, he net­ted about a half mil­lion dol­lars. That’s a LOT of aspirin! This is anoth­er aspect of the case that seems more than a lit­tle odd, upon exam­i­na­tion. ” . . . . Watch­ing over his family’s art trove was Mr. Gurlitt’s only known job. Peri­od­i­cal­ly, he dipped into the col­lec­tion to select a work to sell, a need that, accord­ing to Der Spiegel, became more press­ing in recent years as his health declined. The last piece he is known to have sold — “The Lion Tamer,” by the Ger­man artist Max Beck­mann — fetched 864,000 euros, or $1.17 mil­lion, includ­ing com­mis­sions, at an auc­tion in Cologne in 2011. Mr. Gurlitt agreed to give 45 per­cent of the pro­ceeds to a Jew­ish fam­i­ly that had orig­i­nal­ly owned the work. . . .”
  • When the elder Gurlitt was detained by the “Mon­u­ments Men” after the war, he was released and not charged. He was allowed to keep his trove. WHY? ” . . .  Soon after, he was detained there and ques­tioned by mem­bers of the Mon­u­ments, Fine Arts and Archives unit of the Unit­ed States mil­i­tary, the group of his­to­ri­ans, cura­tors and sol­diers entrust­ed with safe­guard­ing Europe’s cul­tur­al her­itage. In his state­ments to inves­ti­ga­tors, he empha­sized his anti-Nazi sen­ti­ments and main­tained that he had nev­er han­dled stolen art, and that the works in his pos­ses­sion were most­ly “the per­son­al prop­er­ty of my fam­i­ly or myself.” Inves­ti­ga­tors con­clud­ed that he was not an impor­tant play­er in the art trade and lat­er returned to him more than 115 paint­ings, in addi­tion to draw­ings and oth­er fine art objects. . . .”
  • The elder Gurlitt died in an auto acci­dent in 1956, “rac­ing” back to his home from Berlin. At that point in time, Berlin was a hotbed of Cold War intrigue and espi­onage. Might the elder Gurlitt have been sell­ing art to help finance Under­ground Reich and/or BND-relat­ed clan­des­tine activ­i­ties? Might he have been mov­ing art to gen­er­ate funds for the Under­ground Reich? Was he flee­ing some­thing or some­one in Berlin at the time of his death? ” . . . . In 1956, Hilde­brand Gurlitt died in a crash on the auto­bahn while rac­ing from Berlin back to the family’s home in Düs­sel­dorf . . . ”
  • Anoth­er sus­pi­cious detail involves a 1966 inquiry by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment into the Gurlitt art trove. Hilde­brand’s wid­ow (Cor­nelius’ moth­er) respond­ed that all of the elder Gurlit­t’s art and records were destroyed in the fire­bomb­ing of Dres­den dur­ing the war. This was a lie. Inves­ti­ga­tors sub­se­quent­ly found both paint­ings and record books kept by Hilde­brand! ” . . . . In late 1966, a gov­ern­ment agency in Berlin respon­si­ble for the resti­tu­tion of assets plun­dered dur­ing the Nazi era sent a for­mal let­ter ask­ing about four paint­ings acquired by her hus­band. Mrs. Gurlitt replied that all her husband’s records and art­works had been “incin­er­at­ed” when the Allies bombed Dres­den in Feb­ru­ary 1945. The search of Cornelius’s apart­ment last year proved this to be a decep­tion: Inves­ti­ga­tors found not only paint­ings but also record books kept by his father.”
  • The anom­alies in this case may well stem from a very sig­nif­i­cant fact. The return of the art works is imped­ed by a Third Reich law, still on the books in the “new” Ger­many. This exem­pli­fies a point we have been mak­ing about the con­ti­nu­ity between the Third Reich and the Fed­er­al Repub­lic. ” . . . . The 1938 law that allowed the Nazis to seize it — and thou­sands of oth­er Mod­ernist art­works deemed “degen­er­ate” because Hitler viewed them as un-Ger­man or Jew­ish in nature — remains on the books to this day. . . . The law’s exis­tence ren­ders slim the like­li­hood that Mr. Büche’s muse­um or dozens of oth­ers in Ger­many can reclaim their works, Ger­man legal experts and muse­um and gov­ern­ment offi­cials say. And that law is like­ly to remain in place. . . .”
  • The work of the elder Gurlitt for the Fuehrermu­se­um in Linz, Aus­tria. This was to be Hitler’s muse­um con­tain­ing the great­est works of art in the West­ern world. Nev­er real­ized, the art gath­ered for it com­prised the bulk of the art alleged by authors Dun­stan and Williams to be at the foun­da­tion of the Dulles/Bormann deal in Aktion Feur­land.
  • The out­growth of the alleged Dulles/Bormann deal from Oper­a­tion Sun­rise.
  • Evi­ta Per­on’s role as a key Nazi spy and a major func­tionary in the Bor­mann cap­i­tal net­work.
  • The osten­si­ble betray­al of Bor­mann and Mueller by the Per­on fac­tion, result­ing in lethal ret­ri­bu­tion against them by the Orga­ni­za­tion.
  • The use of the Union Bank­ing Cor­po­ra­tion to move Bor­mann funds from Ger­many to the U.S. at a time when Prescott Bush, Sr. and George Her­bert Walk­er ran the firm. 

1. The authors posit that the key play­ers in the real­iza­tion of Aktion Feurland–the code-name for the oper­a­tion facil­i­tat­ing Hitler’s escape to Patag­o­nia, Argenti­na (“Tier­ra del Fuego”)–were names well known to reg­u­lar lis­ten­ers and users of this web­site: Allen Dulles on the Allied side and Mar­tin Bor­mann for the Third Reich. (The authors give great cre­dence to Paul Man­ning’s work and ref­er­ence it heav­i­ly.)

Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler by Simon Dun­stan and Ger­rard Williams; Ster­ling [HC]; Copy­right 2011 by Simon Dun­stan, Ger­rard Williams and Spit­fire Recov­ery Ltd.; ISBN 978–1‑4027–8139‑1; p. xxx.

. . . . To the end, Bor­mann was deter­mined to save the loot­ed wealth of Ger­many for his own nefar­i­ous ends and to sus­tain a select band of Nazis fol­low­ing mil­i­tary defeat and the fall of Berlin. Mas­sive funds were chan­neled abroad, while large stash­es of bul­lion and stolen art­works were hid­den under­ground in deep mines across the Third Reich. These were primed with explo­sives for demo­li­tion, which Bor­mann con­sid­ered prefer­able to allow­ing them to fall into the hands of the Bol­she­vik hordes. But to Bor­mann, the art­works were also a bar­gain­ing tool. It seems evi­dent that Bor­mann offered the OSS a Faus­t­ian pact: the fruits of one thou­sand years of West­ern art, togeth­er with the secrets of Nazi Ger­many’s advanced mil­i­tary tech­nol­o­gy in exchange for the escape of one man–Adolf Hitler. The alter­na­tive was the total destruc­tion of the jew­els of West­ern civ­i­liza­tion. This was the key to Aktion Feur­land. The deal was done and on the night of April 28, 1945, the plan was put into place. The Grey Wolf was on the run. . . .

2. Cen­tered on a quid pro quo arrange­ment, the authors hypoth­e­size that Aktion Feur­land involved the trans­fer of Nazi tech­nol­o­gy to the U.S. and the West (known as Project Paper­clip) and the sav­ing of price­less works of art from destruc­tion. In return, Dulles  et al guar­an­teed the safe pas­sage of Hitler, Eva Braun, SS Gen­er­al Her­mann Fegelein (Braun’s broth­er in law), Gen­er­al Hein­rich Muller (head of the Gestapo) and Bor­mann him­self.

In the text excerpt below, the authors ital­i­cize those parts of their argu­ment that are log­i­cal deduc­tion from the doc­u­men­ta­tion, for pur­pos­es of empha­sis on what is log­i­cal spec­u­la­tion and con­firmed fact.

Ibid. pp. 133–134.

. . . . In Bor­man­n’s char­ac­ter­is­tic style–the car­rot and the stick–Kaltenbrun­ner and [SS Lt. Col. Hans Hel­mut von] Hum­mel indi­cat­ed to Dulles that Bor­mann was will­ing to pro­vide the Allies, as an induce­ment or “car­rot,”  with infor­ma­tion as to the where­abouts of all the Nazi loot­ed art. It would be hand­ed over intact, togeth­er with the nation­al trea­sure of Ger­many, includ­ing its gold deposits, cur­ren­cy reserves, bear­er bonds, and indus­tri­al patents–except, of course, for the sub­stan­tial part of this trea­sure that Bor­mann had already secret­ed abroad. An addi­tion­al and supreme­ly attrac­tive car­rot was Bor­man­n’s under­tak­ing to deliv­er to the Allies exam­ples of the most mod­ern weapons tech­nol­o­gy togeth­er with the where­abouts of the design­ers, such as Wern­er von Braun and his V‑2 team, and the nuclear sci­en­tists [and ura­ni­um ore] of the Ura­ni­um Club. Fur­ther­more, the cease­fire in Italy would be rat­i­fied imme­di­ate­ly. But what was the desired price for such trea­sures? A blind eye turned to the escape of Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun, Mar­tin Bor­mann, Hein­rich “Gestapo” Muller, Her­mann Fegelein, and Ernest Kaltenbrun­ner. The rest of the Nazi hier­ar­chy was to be aban­doned to their fate.

The “stick” was sim­ple. Ger­many now claimed to be capa­ble of bom­bard­ing the east­ern seaboard of the Unit­ed States with weapons of mass destruc­tion: con­sid­er­able effort had been invest­ed in sell­ing the dis­in­for­ma­tion to U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies, with some suc­cess. (See Chap­ter 16). These weapons incor­po­rat­ed war­heads armed with the most tox­ic nerve agents ever devised, sarin and tabun. In addi­tion, many repos­i­to­ries of the great­est works of art pro­duced dur­ing cen­turies of West­ern civ­i­liza­tion was now held hostage, and this threat was entire­ly cred­i­ble, fol­low­ing Hitler’s “Nero Decree” of March 19. Offi­cial­ly titled “Demo­li­tions on Reich Ter­ri­to­ry,” this decree ordered the utter destruc­tion of all Ger­man indus­tri­al infra­struc­ture and tech­nol­o­gy; although not includ­ed in the offi­cial order, it also implied the destruc­tion of cul­tur­al assets and the elim­i­na­tion of any key per­son­nel who might be use­ful to the Allied pow­ers. . . .

3. Note that doc­u­ments from the late 1940’s on Hitler and his pos­si­ble escape and where­abouts at that time are STILL clas­si­fied, the bet­ter part of a cen­tu­ry after the end of World War II.

Ibid.; p.242.

. . . . Dur­ing this peri­od [the late 1940’s], the FBI was tak­ing reports of Hitler being in Latin Amer­i­ca very seri­ous­ly. Thou­sands of doc­u­ments per­tain­ing to Hitler from these years are  still clas­si­fied as Top Secret on both sides of the Atlantic; nev­er­the­less, and despite the very heavy cen­sor­ship of the few files released into the pub­lic domain, some infor­ma­tion can be gleaned. . . .

4. Stal­in and Gen­er­al Zhukov (the Red Army’s top gen­er­al) did­n’t believe that Hitler was dead. Gen­er­al Dwight D. Eisen­how­er was deeply skep­ti­cal, as well.

Ibid.; p. xxii.

. . . . Stal­in nev­er believed Hitler was dead, insist­ing at the Pots­dam Con­fer­ence on July17, 1945, that he had escaped–probably to “Spain or Argenti­na.” Stal­in’s top gen­er­al, Mar­shal Geor­gy Zhukov, said on August 6, 1945; “We found no corpse that could be Hitler’s.”

Gen. Dwight D. Eisen­how­er stat­ed pub­licly on Octo­ber 12, 1945, “There is every assump­tion that Hitler is dead, but not a bit of con­clu­sive proof that he is dead.” He told the Asso­ci­at­ed Press that “Russ­ian friends” had informed him that they had been “unable to unearth any tan­gi­ble evi­dence of his death.” One U.S. sen­a­tor went as far as offer­ing one mil­lion U.S. dol­lars for proof of Hitler’s death. It has nev­er been claimed. . . .

5a. We have spo­ken at length about the Bor­mann flight cap­i­tal net­work in numer­ous pro­grams. The Thyssen-owned Union Bank­ing Cor­po­ra­tion was used for the Bor­mann cap­i­tal trans­fers to the U.S. Prescott Bush,Sr. and George Her­bert Walk­er were head of the Union Bank­ing Cor­po­ra­tion at this time.

Ibid.; p. 85.

. . . . With exquis­ite hypocrisy, Bor­mann made use of the Thyssen fam­i­ly’s pri­vate bank in Rot­ter­dam, Bank Voor Han­del en Scheep­vaart N.V., which had orig­i­nal­ly been found­ed by August Thyssen in 1918 in order to send illic­it funds out of the Kaiser’s Ger­many as defeat in World War I approached. Mon­ey was chan­neled to the Union Bank­ing Cor­po­ra­tion of New York, which was whol­ly owned by Fritz Thyssen’s Ver­eignigte Stahlw­erke AG (Unit­ed Steel­works). From there it was dis­bursed to accounts in oth­er Amer­i­can banks, includ­ing Nation­al City Bank, Chase Nation­al Bank, and Irv­ing Trust, and used to buy stocks in U.S. com­pa­nies and cor­po­ra­tions. . . . .

5b. One of the prin­ci­pal fig­ures in the Bor­mann net­work’s trans­fer of Nazi funds to Argenti­na was Eva Duarte, lat­er and bet­ter known as “Evi­ta Per­on.”

“Evi­ta” was a Nazi spy, even before she mar­ried Juan Per­on.

Ibid.; p. 198.

. . . . Mar­tin Bor­mann, as always, was entire­ly clear-sight­ed, and dur­ing that year he put in hand his plan to pre­pare and fund that refuge–Aktion Feur­land. The Nazi syn­pathiz­ers in Argenti­na enjoyed a vir­tu­al­ly free rein, con­tin­u­ing to oper­ate schools with Nazi sym­bols and ide­ol­o­gy and meet­ing reg­u­lar­ly (although by 1943, not as pub­licly as before), but the key con­spir­a­tors were few–a group lim­it­ed to peo­ple Bor­mann had rea­son to trust. These includ­ed a clique of pow­er­ful, venal bankers and indus­tri­al­ists such as Lud­wig Freude; a charis­mat­ic ambitouis army offi­cer, Juan Domin­go Per­on; and a beau­ti­ful, intel­li­gent acress, Eva Duarte. . . .

5c. More about Bor­mann and Eva Duarte (lat­er Eva Per­on):

p. 210.

. . . . Lud­wig Freude’s and Eva Duar­te’s involve­ment in the smug­gling oper­a­tion was made clear in an Argen­tine police doc­u­ment of April 18, 1945. This detailed the oper­a­tions of Freude, “agent of the Third Reich,” and his deal­ings with an Argen­tine agent, “Natalio.” This infor­mant report­ed that Freude had made very sub­stan­tial deposits in var­i­ous Buenos Aires banks in the name of the “well-known radio-the­atri­cal actress Maria Eva Duarte.” Freude told Natalio that on Feb­ru­ary 7, 1945, a U‑boat had brought huge funds to help in the recon­struc­tion of the Nazi empire. Sub­se­quent police inves­ti­ga­tions revealed that cas­es from the U‑boat with the woreds Geheime Reichssache (“Reich Top Secret”) sten­ciled on them, had been tak­en to a Lahusen ranch run by two “Nazi broth­ers, just out­side Buenos Aires.” Deposits of gold and var­i­ous cur­ren­cies were lat­er made in Eva’s name at the Ban­co Ale­man Transat­lanti­co, Ban­co Ger­man­i­co, and Ban­co Torn­quist. . . .

5d. After mar­ry­ing Juan Per­on, Evi­ta helped final­ize Bor­man­n’s decamp­ment to Argenti­na:

Ibid.; p. 258.

. . . .The all-con­quer­ing Evi­ta left Spain for Rome on June 25, 1947. Father Ben­itez would smooth her way in the Vat­i­can with the aid of Bish­op Alois Hudal [one of the key mem­bers of the Vatican/Nazi “Rat­line”]. Two days after she arrived she was giv­en an audi­ence with pope Pius XII, spend­ing twen­ty min­utes with the Holy Father–“a time usu­al­ly allot­ted by Vat­i­can pro­to­col to queens.” How­ev­er, there was a more sin­is­ter side to the Rome trip. Using Bish­op Hudal as an inter­me­di­ary, she arranged to meet Bor­mann in an Ital­ian vil­la at Rapal­lo pro­vid­ed for her use by [Argen­tine ship­ping bil­lion­aire Alber­to] Dodero. The shipown­er was also present at the meet­ing, as was Eva’s broth­er Juan Duarte. There, she and her for­mer pay­mas­ter cut the deal that guar­an­teed that his Fuhrer’s safe haven would con­tin­ue to remain safe, and allowed Bor­mann to leave Europe at last for a new life in South Amer­i­ca. How­ev­er, she and her team had one shock­ing dis­ap­point­ment for Bor­mann. . . .  

5e. The authors con­tend that Evi­ta, her hus­band and oth­ers of the Argen­tine end of the Nazi flight cap­i­tal pro­gram in Argenti­na dou­bled on Bor­mann and Mueller, with lethal results for the con­spir­a­tors. In 1952, Evi­ta died of can­cer at age 33. Much of her hus­band’s pop­u­lar­i­ty stemmed from her pub­lic per­sona. Deprived of it by her untime­ly death, he was over­thrown in a mil­i­tary coup.

Ibid.; pp. 258, 259, 260.

. . . . Prov­ing that there is no hon­or among thieves, the Per­ons pre­sent­ed Bor­mann with a rad­i­cal rene­go­ti­a­tion of their ear­li­er under­stand­ing. Evi­ta had brought with her to Europe some $800 mil­lion worth of the trea­sure that he had placed in sup­posed safe­keep­ing in Argenti­na, and she would deposit this vast sum in Swiss banks for the Per­ons’ own use. . . .

. . . . How­ev­er, the Bor­man “Orga­ni­za­tion” had a keen mem­o­ry. After the spring of 1948, when Muller based him­self in Cor­do­ba and became direct­ly respon­si­ble for the secu­ri­ty of the Orga­ni­za­tion, the bankers who had betrayed Bor­mann would begin to suf­fer a string of untime­ly deaths. Hein­rich Doerge died mys­te­ri­ous­ly in 1949; in Decem­ber 1950, Ricar­do von Leute was found dead in a Buenos Aires street, and Ricar­do Staudt would sur­vive him by only a few months. Lud­wig Freude him­self, the king­pin of Aktion Feur­land in Argenti­na, died in 1952 from drink­ing a poi­soned cup of cof­fee, and Evi­ta’s younger broth­er Juan Duarte met his end in 1954 with a gun­shot to the head. Offi­cial­ly, he was said to have com­mit­ted sui­cide. . . . .

6.  A recent dis­clo­sure that one Cor­nelius Gurlitt had many mil­lions of dol­lars worth of art stashed in what was described as his “dingy” Munich apart­ment has pro­duced a num­ber of inter­est­ing points of inquiry. The art appears to have been a por­tion of Nazi plun­der accu­mu­lat­ed dur­ing World War II by Cor­nelius’ father Gurlitt.

It turned out that Cor­nelius Gurlit­t’s father Hilde­brand had sold art­works for Nazi pro­pa­gan­da min­is­ter Joseph Goebbels to gen­er­ate hard cur­ren­cy for the Third Reich.
. . . . If con­firmed, the dis­cov­ery would be one of the biggest finds of van­ished art in years. But word of it left almost equal­ly big ques­tions unan­swered: Why did the Ger­man author­i­ties let near­ly two years pass before such a siz­able find was dis­closed? What will become of the recov­ered works of art? Did Mr. [Cor­nelius] Gurlitt con­tin­ue to make sales even after the raid? And where is he today? . . .

. . . . Yet he [Hilde­brand Gurlitt] was also one of the few Ger­mans grant­ed per­mis­sion by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s pro­pa­gan­da chief, to sell con­fis­cat­ed art. Sales to for­eign buy­ers were meant to fill Nazi cof­fers, but art his­to­ri­ans have doc­u­ment­ed many sales in Ger­many, as well as pro­ceeds pock­et­ed by the deal­ers involved. . . .

7. The han­dling of the case by the Ger­man author­i­ties puz­zled many onlook­ers and ana­lysts. Now being por­trayed as some­thing of a “lone nut,” Cor­nelius Hilde­brand main­tained a Swiss bank account and had no records with the Munich police depart­ment. (In Ger­many, every cit­i­zen is required to reg­is­ter with the local police admin­is­tra­tion.)

Note that the younger Gurlitt con­tin­ued to sell art works, the­o­ret­i­cal­ly in order to finance his health care as he got old­er. Ger­many has uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age. On one recent sale, he net­ted about a half mil­lion dol­lars. That’s a LOT of aspirin! This is anoth­er aspect of the case that seems more than a lit­tle odd, upon exam­i­na­tion.

When the elder Gurlitt was detained by the “Mon­u­ments Men” after the war, he was released and not charged. He was allowed to keep his trove. WHY?

The elder Gurlitt died in an auto acci­dent in 1956, “rac­ing” back to his home from Berlin. At that point in time, Berlin was a hotbed of Cold War intrigue and espi­onage. Might the elder Gurlitt have been sell­ing art to help finance Under­ground Reich and/or BND-relat­ed clan­des­tine activ­i­ties? Might he have been mov­ing art to gen­er­ate funds for the Under­ground Reich? Was he flee­ing some­thing or some­one in Berlin at the time of his death?

Anoth­er sus­pi­cious detail involves a 1966 inquiry by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment into the Gurlitt art trove. Hilde­brand’s wid­ow (Cor­nelius’ moth­er) respond­ed that all of the elder Gurlit­t’s art and records were destroyed in the fire­bomb­ing of Dres­den dur­ing the war. This was a lie. Inves­ti­ga­tors sub­se­quent­ly found both paint­ings and record books kept by Hilde­brand!

“For Son of a Nazi-era Deal­er, a Pri­vate Life Amid a Taint­ed Trove of Art” by Andrew Hig­gins and Katrin Bennhold; The New York Times; 11/18/2013. pp. A4-A11.

. . . Despite his seclu­sion, Mr.[Cornelius] Gurlitt clear­ly cal­cu­lat­ed his risks. When Ger­man cus­toms offi­cers ques­tioned him in 2010 on a train to Munich from Switzer­land, where he is known to have a bank account and has sold at least one work, they dis­cov­ered he was car­ry­ing €9,000, just below the legal lim­it. His exces­sive­ly shy man­ner nonethe­less set off alarm bells. Their vol­ume increased when inves­ti­ga­tors dis­cov­ered lat­er that Mr. Gurlitt did not exist, bureau­crat­i­cal­ly speak­ing. He was not list­ed in Munich’s reg­istry of res­i­dents or in oth­er offi­cial records. . . .

. . . .Watch­ing over his family’s art trove was Mr. Gurlitt’s only known job. Peri­od­i­cal­ly, he dipped into the col­lec­tion to select a work to sell, a need that, accord­ing to Der Spiegel, became more press­ing in recent years as his health declined. The last piece he is known to have sold — “The Lion Tamer,” by the Ger­man artist Max Beck­mann — fetched 864,000 euros, or $1.17 mil­lion, includ­ing com­mis­sions, at an auc­tion in Cologne in 2011. Mr. Gurlitt agreed to give 45 per­cent of the pro­ceeds to a Jew­ish fam­i­ly that had orig­i­nal­ly owned the work. . . .

. . . Soon after, he [Hildebrand–the elder Gurlitt] was detained there and ques­tioned by, the group of his­to­ri­ans, cura­tors and sol­diers entrust­ed with safe­guard­ing Europe’s cul­tur­al her­itage. In his state­ments to inves­ti­ga­tors, he empha­sized his anti-Nazi sen­ti­ments and main­tained that he had nev­er han­dled stolen art, and that the works in his pos­ses­sion were most­ly “the per­son­al prop­er­ty of my fam­i­ly or myself.” Inves­ti­ga­tors con­clud­ed that he was not an impor­tant play­er in the art trade and lat­er returned to him more than 115 paint­ings, in addi­tion to draw­ings and oth­er fine art objects. . . .

. . . . In 1956, Hilde­brand Gurlitt died in a crash on the auto­bahn while rac­ing from Berlin back to the family’s home in Düs­sel­dorf . . .

. . . . In late 1966, a gov­ern­ment agency in Berlin respon­si­ble for the resti­tu­tion of assets plun­dered dur­ing the Nazi era sent a for­mal let­ter ask­ing about four paint­ings acquired by her hus­band. Mrs. Gurlitt replied that all her husband’s records and art­works had been “incin­er­at­ed” when the Allies bombed Dres­den in Feb­ru­ary 1945. The search of Cornelius’s apart­ment last year proved this to be a decep­tion: Inves­ti­ga­tors found not only paint­ings but also record books kept by his father. . . .

8. The anom­alies in this case may well stem from a very sig­nif­i­cant fact. The return of the art works is imped­ed by a Third Reich law, still on the books in the “new” Ger­many. This exem­pli­fies a point we have been mak­ing about the con­ti­nu­ity between the Third Reich and the Fed­er­al Repub­lic.
Wolf­gang Büche was amazed this month when a water­col­or seized by the Nazis from the small muse­um in this east­ern city, where he is the cura­tor, reap­peared, part of a vast trove uncov­ered in a Munich apart­ment.

But his excite­ment at see­ing the work, “Land­scape With Hors­es,” a pos­si­ble study for a 1911 paint­ing by the Ger­man Expres­sion­ist Franz Marc, was tem­pered by one fact he called “irrefutable”: The 1938 law that allowed the Nazis to seize it — and thou­sands of oth­er Mod­ernist art­works deemed “degen­er­ate” because Hitler viewed them as un-Ger­man or Jew­ish in nature — remains on the books to this day.

The Ger­man author­i­ties say they believe that 380 works con­fis­cat­ed from Ger­man pub­lic muse­ums under the Nazi-era law may be among the more than 1,200 paint­ings, lith­o­graphs and draw­ings found stashed away in the apart­ment of Cor­nelius Gurlitt, the reclu­sive 80-year-old son of a Nazi-era art deal­er.

The law’s exis­tence ren­ders slim the like­li­hood that Mr. Büche’s muse­um or dozens of oth­ers in Ger­many can reclaim their works, Ger­man legal experts and muse­um and gov­ern­ment offi­cials say. And that law is like­ly to remain in place. . . .

9. An arti­cle from Der Spiegel dis­clos­es how pro­found was Cor­nelius Gurlit­t’s activ­i­ties on behalf of the Third Reich. He was involved with appro­pri­at­ing works of art for Hitler’s pro­posed art muse­um in Linz, Aus­tria. Works intend­ed for that muse­um were alleged by Dun­stan and Williams to have been cen­tral to the appar­ent Dulles/Bormann deal at the foun­da­tion of Aktion Feur­land.

“Art Deal­er to the Führer Hilde­brand Gurlitt’s Deep Nazi Ties” By Felix Bohr, Lothar Gor­ris, Ulrike Knofel, Sven Robel and Michael Son­theimer; Der Spiegel; 12/23/2013.

Hilde­brand Gurlitt, the man who assem­bled the astound­ing art col­lec­tion recent­ly dis­cov­ered in a Munich apart­ment, was more deeply involved in the trade of loot­ed art­works than had been pre­vi­ously assumed. He also prof­ited from Nazi injus­tices after the war.

The Amer­i­cans moved in from the west around noon. There were two tanks, fol­lowed by infantry sol­diers, their weapons at the ready.

There are peo­ple in Aschbach, a vil­lage in the Upper Fran­co­nia region of Bavaria, who remem­ber April 14, 1945 very clear­ly. They were chil­dren then, help­ing out in the fields as the sol­diers marched past. They remem­ber that some of the men had dark skin and gave them chew­ing gum.

At the time, Aschbach was a town of a few hun­dred res­i­dents, com­plete with a cas­tle on a hill that belonged to the aris­to­cratic Pöl­nitz fam­ily. The cas­tle, its façade cov­ered in brown­ish plas­ter over­grown with wild grape vines, was part of an estate that includ­ed a lake and sev­eral hun­dred hectares of for­est. It still stands on the out­skirts of Aschbach today, a fairy­tale cas­tle in Fran­co­nia.

Dur­ing those last days of World War II, Aschbach res­i­dents hung white sheets from their win­dows and were lat­er reg­is­tered by the Amer­i­can sol­diers. The Amer­i­cans arrest­ed local Nazi Par­ty leader Baron Ger­hard von Pöl­nitz. The res­i­dents who were reg­is­tered includ­ed a man named Karl Haber­stock, who appeared on a want­ed list of the Office of Strate­gic Ser­vices (OSS), the pre­cur­sor to the CIA. Haber­stock, an art deal­er, had been liv­ing in the cas­tle with his wife for sev­eral months.

The Amer­i­can army had a spe­cial unit to han­dle such cas­es, the Mon­u­ments, Fine Arts and Archives Sec­tion. Their job was to search for art stolen by the Nazis.

Mon­u­ments Men

When Cap­tain Robert K. Posey and his assis­tant, Pri­vate Lin­coln Kirstein, known as “Mon­u­ments Men,” inspect­ed the cas­tle in ear­ly May they found an enor­mous art ware­house. It con­tained paint­ings and sculp­tures from the muse­um in near­by Bam­berg and a pic­ture gallery in the cen­tral Ger­man city of Kas­sel, whose direc­tors had sought to pro­tect the works from Allied bombs. They also dis­cov­ered sus­pi­cious pri­vate prop­erty, some 13 crates of art­works marked as belong­ing to Herib­ert Füt­terer, the com­man­der of the Ger­man Air Force divi­sion for Bohemia and Moravia. The estate chapel con­tained suit­cases and bags full of art, which Ewald von Kleist, the for­mer com­man­der of Army Group A of the Wehrma­cht, had left there. Cap­tain Posey declared the estate a restrict­ed area and had signs read­ing “Off Lim­its” post­ed at the prop­er­ty.

A few days lat­er, a Mon­u­ments Man not­ed: “In addi­tion, rooms con­tain­ing paint­ings, tapes­tries, stat­ues, valu­able fur­ni­ture and doc­u­ments from the belong­ings of two noto­ri­ous Ger­man art deal­ers were found in the cas­tle.” They were the col­lec­tions of Karl Haber­stock and a cer­tain Hilde­brand Gurlitt, who had also lived in the cas­tle with his fam­ily since their house in Dres­den was burned down.

A note dat­ed May 16 reads: “A large room on the upper floor with 34 box­es, two pack­ages con­tain­ing car­pets, eight pack­ages of books … one room on the ground floor con­tain­ing an addi­tional 13 box­es owned by Mr. Gurlitt.” Most of these box­es con­tained pic­tures and draw­ings.

‘Con­nec­tions With­in High-Lev­el Nazi Cir­cles’

In the fol­low­ing months and years, the Amer­i­can art inves­ti­ga­tors wrote let­ters, mem­os, inven­tory lists, reports and dossiers to clear up the ori­gins of the art. With regard to Haber­stock, they wrote: “Mr. Karl Haber­stock, from Berlin, is the most noto­ri­ous art col­lec­tor in Europe. He was Hitler’s pri­vate art col­lec­tor and, for years, seized art trea­sures in France, Hol­land, Bel­gium and even Switzer­land and Italy, using ille­gal, unscrupu­lous and even bru­tal meth­ods. His name is infa­mous among all hon­est col­lec­tors in Europe.”

Gurlitt, they wrote, was “an art col­lec­tor from Ham­burg with con­nec­tions with­in high-lev­el Nazi cir­cles. He act­ed on behalf of oth­er Nazi offi­cials and made many trips to France, from where he brought home art col­lec­tions. There is rea­son to believe that these pri­vate art col­lec­tions con­sist of loot­ed art from oth­er coun­tries.” For the Mon­u­ments Men, Gurlitt was also an “art deal­er to the Führer.”

Now, almost 70 years lat­er, what the Mon­u­ments Men dis­cov­ered at Aschbach Cas­tle in May 1945 has shown a spot­light on Germany’s past once again. Cus­toms offi­cials found an enor­mous trea­sure trove of art­works from the Third Reich in an apart­ment in Munich’s Schwabing dis­trict. It includes 380 pic­tures that the Nazis had dubbed “degen­er­ate art” in 1937 and removed from muse­ums. The Schwabing find also includ­ed 590 oth­er art­works that the Nazi regime and its hench­men may have stolen from Jew­ish own­ers. The own­er of the apart­ment is Gurlitt’s son Cor­nelius, the cur­rent heir of the col­lec­tion, who was 12 and liv­ing in Aschbach at the end of the war.

Con­se­quences of Munich Dis­cov­ery

With the ori­gins of the indi­vid­ual pic­tures still unclear, a task force appoint­ed by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment is inves­ti­gat­ing the his­tory of each art­work. It will be a lengthy effort. But a search per­formed by SPIEGEL staff, in such places as the French For­eign Min­istry archives and the Nation­al Muse­um in Wro­claw, Poland, has revealed the sub­stan­tial extent to which Gurlitt dealt in loot­ed art and how ruth­less his prac­tices were.

A Hol­ly­wood film about the Mon­u­ments Men will be screened for the first time at next year’s Berlin Film Fes­ti­val. George Clooney pro­duced and direct­ed the film, in addi­tion to play­ing the main role: a US sol­dier who is part of a spe­cial unit made up of art his­to­ri­ans, muse­um experts and oth­er assis­tants, whose mis­sion is to recov­er art stolen by the Nazis and res­cue it from destruc­tion in the final days of the war. Appar­ently the film depicts the his­tor­i­cal events with some degree of accu­ra­cy.

But per­haps what hap­pened in Aschbach in those last few days of the war and the first few months of peace would make for a more inter­est­ing film: an enchant­ed cas­tle in Upper Fran­co­nia owned by a baron who had joined the Nazis, and who served dur­ing the war in Paris, where he worked with art deal­ers with dubi­ous rep­u­ta­tions, some of whom he even­tu­ally har­bored in his cas­tle near the end of the ill-fat­ed Third Reich.

It would be a film about the country’s elites, who ben­e­fited from the crimes of the Nazis, a sto­ry about cul­prits who quick­ly trans­formed them­selves into sup­pos­edly upstand­ing cit­i­zens and, in a new Ger­many, became the pil­lars of soci­ety once again.

In a bizarre twist, for sev­eral months after the war Schloss Aschbach housed a group of young Jews who had sur­vived the Holo­caust. Iron­i­cally they, and not the Nazi baron, lived in the castle’s ele­gant rooms before leav­ing the land of the Shoah for good. But more on that lat­er.

‘Extreme­ly Ner­vous’

The Mon­u­ments Men ques­tioned Hilde­brand Gurlitt in Aschbach in June 1945. They noticed that he seemed “extreme­ly ner­vous” and not­ed it seemed as if he were not telling the whole truth. It was dur­ing those days that Gurlitt, the “art deal­er to the Führer,” rein­vented him­self: as a vic­tim of the Nazis, a man who had saved pre­cious art­works from destruc­tion and some­one who had nev­er done any­thing mali­cious.

Of course, not every­thing Gurlitt told the Amer­i­cans was false. He point­ed out that the Nazis clas­si­fied him as a “mon­grel,” because of his Jew­ish grand­mother, and that he had feared for his future and even his life after 1933, which led him to coop­er­ate. As Gurlitt stat­ed dur­ing the three-day inter­ro­ga­tion, there was a risk that he, as a so-called quar­ter-Jew, would be draft­ed into forced labor for the Todt Orga­ni­za­tion, a Third Reich civ­il and mil­i­tary engi­neer­ing group. Gurlitt also said: “I had to decide between the war and the work for muse­ums. I nev­er bought a pic­ture that wasn’t offered to me vol­un­tar­ily. As I heard, laws were also enact­ed in France so that Jew­ish art col­lec­tions could be con­fis­cated. But I nev­er saw it with my own eyes.”

The Mon­u­ments Men in Aschbach felt that Haber­stock was the more egre­gious crim­i­nal. He was tak­en into inves­tiga­tive cus­tody in May 1945, and in August he was brought to Altaussee in Aus­tria, where all those who were viewed as tru­ly seri­ous art crim­i­nals were required to tes­tify near a salt mine filled with art­works. Gurlitt was allowed to stay in Aschbach.

Haber­stock lat­er told Ger­man offi­cials that the Amer­i­cans had under­es­ti­mated Gurlitt’s role dur­ing the Nazi peri­od. In a 1949 let­ter to a gov­ern­ment offi­cial, he wrote: “I was able to prove every­thing, includ­ing, for exam­ple, that I was not the main sup­plier for Linz, where­as Mr. Voss, dur­ing his short term in office, bought about 3,000 art­works and took over con­fis­cated col­lec­tions togeth­er with his main buy­er, Dr. Hilde­brand Gurlitt.”

Linz was to be the site of Hitler’s mas­sive Führer muse­um. It was nev­er built, and yet the Nazis bought enough art to fill three muse­ums. Her­mann Voss, a muse­um direc­tor from Wies­baden who had also run a muse­um in Dres­den, ran the art-buy­ing pro­gram from 1943 onward. From then on, Gurlitt worked for Hitler through Voss, who served as a mid­dle­man. He also bought art for Ger­man muse­ums that had been brought into line by the regime, as well as for pri­vate cit­i­zens like Ham­burg cig­a­rette man­u­fac­turer Her­mann F. Reemts­ma, Hanover choco­late mag­nate Bern­hard Spren­gel and Cologne lawyer Josef Haubrich.

Gurlitt’s Ear­ly Career

In 1930, art his­to­rian Gurlitt was removed from his post as direc­tor of the muse­um in the east­ern city of Zwick­au, because he was viewed as a cham­pion of mod­ern art. He went to Ham­burg, where he ran the city’s Kun­stverein art muse­um, until he was fired once again over his pref­er­ence for the avant-garde, as well as his Jew­ish grand­moth­er.

Gurlitt remained in Ham­burg, where he became an art deal­er and opened a gallery. At the time, the kind of mod­ern art he had con­sis­tently sup­ported had become a risky busi­ness. Gurlitt increas­ingly bought and sold old­er, more tra­di­tional art. He had a knack for the busi­ness, devel­op­ing rela­tion­ships with col­lec­tors and find­ing ways to gain access to pic­tures. Before long, he was buy­ing art from peo­ple who were being per­se­cuted, main­ly Jews, who sold their art because they were being forced to flee Ger­many, had lost their jobs and need­ed mon­ey to feed their fam­i­lies, or were being required to pay the so-called “Jew­ish wealth levy.” Through mid­dle­men, Gurlitt also bought art that had been seized by the Gestapo.

One of the paint­ings the Mon­u­ments Men found in Aschbach Cas­tle, in a crate Gurlitt had marked with the num­ber 36, was by the Bul­gar­ian painter Jules Pascin, born in 1885. It depicts two women, one nude and anoth­er wear­ing a shirt, and a man. They seem to be strangers, and they are not look­ing at each oth­er — a metaphor for the bleak­ness of life. Pascin paint­ed it in Paris in 1909 and called it “The Stu­dio of the Painter Gross­mann.” He com­mit­ted sui­cide in 1930.

Gurlitt told the Amer­i­cans that the paint­ing had belonged to his father, who had bought it before the Nazis came into pow­er. In fact, Gurlitt bought the Pascin in 1935 for 600 Reichs­mark, sig­nif­i­cantly less than it was worth, from Julius Fer­di­nand Wollf, the long­stand­ing edi­tor-in-chief of a Dres­den news­pa­per, the Dres­d­ner Neueste Nachricht­en. Wollf was a pas­sion­ately eth­i­cal and respect­ed jour­nal­ist, until the Nazis forced him out of office in 1933. Because of his Jew­ish back­ground, he soon lost his assets and the SS laid waste to his apart­ment. In 1942, short­ly before his sched­uled depor­ta­tion to a con­cen­tra­tion camp, he took his own life, togeth­er with his wife and his broth­er.

After ini­tially con­fis­cat­ing the paint­ing, the Amer­i­cans returned it to Gurlitt in 1950. It must have been sold lat­er. In 1969, at any rate, it was includ­ed in sev­eral exhi­bi­tions, on loan from a French fam­ily of col­lec­tors. In 1972, it was sold at auc­tion at Christie’s in Lon­don for almost $40,000 (€29,000). The work lat­er turned up in Chica­go.

‘Degen­er­ate Art’ a Lucra­tive Export

Gurlitt became the offi­cial deal­er in “degen­er­ate art,” the mod­ern works that were no longer deemed accept­able in the Third Reich. He was expect­ed to sell the works abroad to bring in hard cur­rency. He also con­tin­ued his deal­ings in old­er art. On Dec. 4, 1938, he acquired draw­ings by the 19th-cen­tu­ry painter Adolf Men­zel. They had belonged to a Jew­ish doc­tor in Ham­burg, Ernst Julius Wolff­son, who had a prac­tice on Rothen­baum­chaussee, a street in an upscale neigh­bor­hood, and was the chair­man of the med­ical asso­ci­a­tion.

Wolff­son was deprived of his rep­u­ta­tion and stripped of his posi­tions after 1933, and his med­ical license was revoked in 1938. He was impris­oned at Sach­sen­hausen con­cen­tra­tion camp, but he was sub­se­quently released when influ­en­tial Ham­burg res­i­dents spoke out on his behalf. A fam­ily man, he had no income and no insur­ance when he was ordered to pay the “Jew­ish wealth levy” in 1938. Gurlitt paid him 2,550 Reich­mark, far below the mar­ket price, for nine Men­zel draw­ings. Art his­to­rian Maike Bruhns dis­cov­ered that Ham­burg indus­tri­al­ist Her­mann F. Reemts­ma, one of Gurlitt’s reg­u­lar cus­tomers, had bought two of the draw­ings.

After the war, the Wolff­son family’s attor­ney demand­ed the return of the draw­ings, but Gurlitt refused to pro­vide any infor­ma­tion about the buy­ers. In 1993, two of the works in the Wolff­son col­lec­tion were includ­ed in a memo­r­ial exhi­bi­tion titled “Works of Art that Affect Me. The Col­lec­tor Her­mann F. Reemts­ma.”

Deal­ing in Wartime

Gurlitt remained in Ham­burg until 1942. In the first years of the war, at the height of Germany’s mil­i­tary suc­cesses, Gurlitt expand­ed his ter­ri­tory to include Hol­land, Bel­gium and France. When bombs destroyed his gallery on the Alster Lake in Ham­burg, Gurlitt took his wife and their two chil­dren to Dres­den to live in his par­ents’ house. From there, he estab­lished a rela­tion­ship with Cor­nelius Müller Hof­st­ede, who head­ed the Sile­sian Muse­um in Bres­lau (now called Wro­claw), where he appraised the col­lec­tions of per­se­cuted Jews and sold the con­fis­cated paint­ings on the mar­ket. Müller Hof­st­ede ordered paint­ings picked up from Jew­ish homes and, using an obse­quious tone, wrote to Gurlitt to offer him the works. He also men­tioned that he was even will­ing to come to Dres­den to “present” the pic­tures to Gurlitt. His let­ter end­ed with the words “Heil Hitler!”

It was also Müller Hof­st­ede who obtained the Max Lieber­mann paint­ing “Two Rid­ers on the Beach” for Gurlitt. A few weeks ago, the work was one of the first pic­tures from the con­fis­cated Gurlitt col­lec­tion in Munich to be shown at a press con­fer­ence. The Nazis had con­fis­cated it from sug­ar refin­er David Fried­mann, who died in 1942. Friedmann’s daugh­ter was killed in a con­cen­tra­tion camp in 1943.

Like Müller Hof­st­ede in Bres­lau, Voss, the coor­di­na­tor for the Linz spe­cial project, had assist­ed the Gestapo and, as a “police expert,” had appraised Jew­ish col­lec­tions. He would go into the homes of the per­se­cuted and pick out pieces for his muse­um. He was trav­el­ing a great deal in 1943, to Berlin, Basel and Bres­lau. Accord­ing to this trav­el notes, he met with “A.H. in the Führer’s build­ing” on a Feb­ru­ary night in Munich. He also attend­ed ques­tion­able auc­tions and went to Vien­na and Linz. But he did not go to Paris, because Gurlitt was there on his behalf.

Shady Cir­cles, Piles of Cash

Gurlitt had made his first pur­chases by 1941, the year of the Ger­man inva­sion of France. The fact that the paint­ings came from France increased their val­ue. Many Ger­man muse­um direc­tors longed to go to France, and the coun­try was also a place Gurlitt loved. Impor­tant French col­lec­tions were con­fis­cated, or their own­ers were forced into sell­ing at ridicu­lously low prices. Gurlitt appar­ently sur­rounded him­self with a group of shady mem­bers of the art world, includ­ing agents, inform­ers and oth­er deal­ers. He was in great demand, because he had mil­lions of Reichs­mark to spend.

Gurlitt was now mak­ing reg­u­lar trips to Paris. And con­trary to his lat­er asser­tions, he did not stay in mod­est guest­houses but in grand hotels or the apart­ment of a mis­tress. The three men who would lat­er come togeth­er at Aschbach Cas­tle also met in Paris. Under Voss’s pre­de­ces­sor, art deal­er Haber­stock had been one of the pre­ferred buy­ers for the future Hitler muse­um. He stayed at the Ritz, and he would announce his upcom­ing vis­its to Paris in an art mag­a­zine. He also hand­ed out cards indi­cat­ing that he was look­ing for “first class pic­tures” by old mas­ters.

Baron Ger­hard von Pöl­nitz, the lord of the manor in Aschbach, was sta­tioned in Paris dur­ing those years, as an offi­cer in the Ger­man Air Force. In his free time, he worked for Haber­stock and Gurlitt, set­ting up deals and serv­ing as their rep­re­sen­ta­tive. Jane Weyll, one of Haberstock’s employ­ees, became the baron’s mis­tress.

There is a report by French art his­to­rian Michel Mar­tin about Hilde­brand Gurlitt in the French For­eign Min­istry archive. Dur­ing the occu­pa­tion peri­od, Mar­tin worked in the paint­ings depart­ment at the Lou­vre, where he issued export per­mits for art­works. Gurlitt, Mar­tin wrote, had access to “con­stantly expand­ing cred­it” and had acquired works worth a total of “400 to 500 mil­lion francs.”

When­ever Gurlitt returned to Ger­many, he brought along pho­tographs of select­ed paint­ings to show muse­um staff. Accord­ing to Martin’s account, he also acquired works for his pri­vate col­lec­tion in Paris. “As soon as Gurlitt encoun­tered our resis­tance to his art exports, he would pick up art­works with­out our per­mis­sion, or he would get help from the Ger­man Embassy. Gurlitt took impor­tant art­works out of the coun­try against our will.”

‘Mere­ly an Offi­cial’

Mar­tin also wrote that he had believed Gurlitt when he said that he did “not wish to deal in art­works that came from Jew­ish col­lec­tions.” Appar­ently Gurlitt also insist­ed that he was “mere­ly an offi­cial” act­ing on orders from above.

Pöl­nitz, Haber­stock and Gurlitt met again at Aschbach Cas­tle at the end of the war. Haber­stock, who the Amer­i­cans even­tu­ally turned over to the Ger­man courts, was lat­er exon­er­ated. He worked as an art deal­er in Munich after the war and died in 1956, the same year as his com­peti­tor Gurlitt.

After the war end­ed, Baron von Pöl­nitz was tak­en to an intern­ment camp in Moos­burg in Upper Bavaria from which he was released in 1947. His denaz­i­fi­ca­tion file has dis­ap­peared. He died in 1962 at the age of 64.

The Amer­i­cans placed Gurlitt under house arrest in Aschbach. To occu­py his time, he gave talks on Dür­er and Bar­lach, and kitsch in reli­gious art, to the small local church con­gre­ga­tion. Oth­er­wise, he wrote let­ters attempt­ing to jus­tify his pur­chases in France.

In a 1947 let­ter to Madame Rose Val­land, a French art his­to­rian who was in charge of resti­tu­tions, he insist­ed that he had been a “gen­uine friend of France and a true oppo­nent of the Nazi regime,” one who, “in speech and writ­ing,” had “always cham­pi­oned French art.” It was only “strange coin­ci­dences” that had made it pos­si­ble “for me to save myself by going to France as an art deal­er.” He made no men­tion of his work for the Führer muse­um in Linz.

Putting the Past Behind Him

Gurlitt’s house arrest was lift­ed, and in Jan­u­ary 1948 he moved to Düs­sel­dorf, where he became the direc­tor of that city’s Kun­stverein muse­um. He prompt­ly declared his years in Aschbach as “part of the past,” but he also not­ed that life there was “quite pleas­ant and peace­ful.”

In 1950, Gurlitt’s art was restored to him from the archive of seized prop­erty known as the Wies­baden Cen­tral Col­lect­ing Point. He had already been acquit­ted of all charges. The Amer­i­cans had con­fis­cated a total of 140 works. But Gurlitt had also hid­den a por­tion of his col­lec­tion from the Amer­i­cans in an old water mill, which he then recov­ered.

Gurlitt was a respect­ed mem­ber of soci­ety once again, gain­ing the sup­port of Düs­sel­dorf indus­tri­al­ists by fea­tur­ing their art col­lec­tions in exhi­bi­tions. At the same time, he began show­ing his own col­lec­tion again, cleans­ing it of its past asso­ci­a­tions in the process. In 1953, he was appoint­ed to an hon­orary com­mit­tee over­see­ing an exhi­bi­tion of Ger­man art in Lucerne, Switzer­land, spon­sored by Germany’s then-Pres­i­dent Theodor Heuss. A few of the pic­tures were from Gurlitt’s col­lec­tion, includ­ing a paint­ing by Ernst Lud­wig Kirch­ner (“Two Female Nudes”) and a water­color by Franz Marc (“Large Horse”).

Part of Gurlitt’s pur­pose in show­ing the paint­ings was prob­a­bly to assess whether there would be any objec­tions or claims from the true own­ers. A year lat­er, he pre­sented an exhi­bi­tion titled “Works of French Paint­ing and the Graph­ic Arts” at Vil­la Hügel in the west­ern city of Essen: paint­ings by French Impres­sion­ists like Paul Signac, Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas, which would be worth sev­eral mil­lion euros today, includ­ing a view of the Water­loo Bridge by Claude Mon­et and Gus­tave Courbet’s “Land­scape with Rocks.” Their where­abouts are as unclear today as their ori­gins.

Final Years and Tall Tales

Final­ly, in 1956, the year of his death, Gurlitt sent pic­tures from his col­lec­tion to New York, includ­ing works by Max Beck­mann and Vass­ily Kandin­sky. He wrote a bio­graph­i­cal sketch for the cat­a­log, but it was nev­er pub­lished. In the piece, Gurlitt described him­self as coura­geous and bold, a hero whose deal­ings dur­ing the war were a “dan­ger­ous bal­anc­ing act,” and who had noth­ing left to his name but a push­cart filled with neces­si­ties after the bomb­ing of Dres­den. His account sound­ed almost like the sto­ry of the Kaims, a Jew­ish cou­ple from Bres­lau who sold Gurlitt one of their paint­ings, lost every­thing and were sent to the ghet­to push­ing a hand­cart.

Gurlitt died after a car acci­dent in 1956. In his obit­u­ar­ies, he was cel­e­brated as an impor­tant fig­ure in the post­war West Ger­man art world. His wid­ow Helene moved to Munich in the ear­ly 1960s, where she bought two expen­sive apart­ments in a new build­ing in Schwabing. In May 1960, she had four works from her husband’s col­lec­tion sold by the Ket­terer Kun­st auc­tion house, includ­ing Beckmann’s “Bar, Brown,” which belongs to a US muse­um today, and a paint­ing of play­wright Bertolt Brecht by Rudolf Schlichter, which end­ed up in Munich’s Lenbach­haus. The paint­ing, an impor­tant work from the New Objec­tiv­ity move­ment, is now one the museum’s best-known works.

The Schlichter work was also among the paint­ings the Mon­u­ments Men had found in Aschbach. One of their Ger­man col­leagues there, who lat­er became the direc­tor of the Lenbach­haus, bought the work in the 1960 Ket­terer auc­tion.

There are many exam­ples of works that Gurlitt acquired under ques­tion­able cir­cum­stances. There are also a num­ber of pic­tures hang­ing in Ger­man muse­ums today, from Hanover to Wies­baden, that were bought from Gurlitt. There are even pic­tures that Gurlitt bought for Hitler’s muse­um in Linz, which, because of their unclear ori­gins, became the prop­erty of the state. One such paint­ing, a land­scape by the clas­si­cist painter Jakob Philipp Hack­ert, hangs in the Ger­man For­eign Min­istry today.

Sev­eral paint­ings turned up in art gal­leries. One was August Macke’s “Woman with Par­rot,” an ear­ly work of Ger­man Cubism. It was shown in exhi­bi­tions in 1962 and lat­er in 2001, in each case as part of a pri­vate col­lec­tion. In 2007, the work was sold at auc­tion in Berlin’s Vil­la Grise­bach auc­tion house for more than €2 mil­lion. Gurlitt’s daugh­ter Beni­ta had appar­ently deliv­ered the paint­ing. She died in May 2012. . . .

11. Much of the art–including that acquired by Hilde­brand Gurlitt, “Art Deal­er to the Fuehrer”–was for the Fuehrermu­se­um in Linz, Aus­tria. That muse­um was nev­er built and the art acquired for it became part of the “car­rot” alleged­ly bar­gained for in Aktion Feur­land.

Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler by Simon Dun­stan and Ger­rard Williams; Ster­ling [HC]; Copy­right 2011 by Simon Dun­stan, Ger­rard Williams and Spit­fire Recov­ery Ltd.; ISBN 978–1‑4027–8139‑1; pp. 38–39.

. . . . In the month fol­low­ing the Anschluss [annex­a­tion of Aus­tria in 1938–D.E.], Hitler decid­ed to cre­ate the great­est art muse­um inthe world in the city of Linz, close to his birth­place. The Fuhrermu­se­um was planned to become the repos­i­to­ry for all the great works of art loot­ed dur­ing the Nazi wars of conquest–except, of course, for those pieces divert­ed to the pri­vate col­lec­tions of Adolf Hitler, Her­mann Gor­ing, and a select few oth­ers of the Nazi elite. . . .

. . . . With­in a few weeks [of the fall of France in 1940], a fab­u­lous body of art had been assem­bled at the Lou­vre and the Ger­man embassy await­ing a deci­sion as to final dis­pos­al. This includ­ed twen­ty-six “Jew­ish-owned works of degen­er­ate art,” com­pris­ing four­teen Braques, sev­en Picas­sos, four Leg­es, and a Roualt, which were retained for “trad­ing for artis­ti­cal­ly valu­able works.” . . . .

12. The appar­ent Bormann/Dulles deal that cement­ed Aktion Feur­land grew out of the nego­ti­a­tions between Allen Dulles and SS Gen­er­al Karl Wolff involv­ing the sur­ren­der Axis forces in Italy. That was code-named Oper­a­tion Sun­rise (lat­er “Oper­a­tion Cross­word”). This deal alleged­ly involved the trans­fer to the Allies of price­less works of art tak­en from Flo­rence’s cel­e­brat­ed Uffizi Gallery.

Ibid.; p. 123.

. . . . Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, Wolff also sub­mit­ted a list of art trea­sures from the Uffizi gallery in Dlorence that he was will­ing to return intact if the sur­ren­der talks pros­pered. . . .

13. Updat­ing FTR #791, we note the death of Cor­nelius Gurlitt, the son of promi­nent Nazi art deal­er Hilde­brand Gurlitt. The younger Gurlitt was found to be in pos­ses­sion of a vast trove of art­works, val­ued at at $1.35 bil­lion by some accounts.

Wall Street Jour­nal arti­cle main­tains that the elder Gurlitt was to be the direc­tor of Hitler’s Fuehrermu­se­um. Nev­er built, the art for that intend­ed insti­tu­tion com­prised much of the art alleged by authors Simon Dun­stan and Ger­rard Williams to be at the cen­ter of the deal between Allen Dulles and Mar­tin Bor­mann.

“Ger­man Art Col­lec­tor in Nazi Loot Uproar Dies at 81 — Update” by Mary M. Lane; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 5/6/2014.

Cor­nelius Gurlitt, the octo­ge­nar­i­an son of one of Adolf Hitler’s major art deal­ers, died in his Munich home on Tues­day morn­ing, leav­ing the fate of his rough­ly 1,400 art­works unclear.

Legal ques­tions now swarm sur­round­ing how–and even if–looted works in the col­lec­tion can now be resti­tut­ed to Holo­caust vic­tims and their heirs.

Mr. Gurlitt, 81 years old, stepped from com­plete obscu­ri­ty into world-wide promi­nence last fall after Ger­man media reports sur­faced that Bavar­i­an tax author­i­ties had con­fis­cat­ed in ear­ly 2012 what is regard­ed as the largest-ever trove of Nazi-loot­ed art in pri­vate hands.

The fact that the find remained unre­port­ed for near­ly two years and the gov­ern­men­t’s refusal to put pres­sure on Mr. Gurlitt to return any loot­ed art­work to heirs of their orig­i­nal own­ers drew inter­na­tion­al crit­i­cism of Ger­many from the U.S., France and Israel.

Mr. Gurlitt died in the pres­ence of his doc­tor and care­tak­ers, a few weeks after request­ing that he return home from a Bavar­i­an hos­pi­tal where he had under­gone inten­sive heart surgery, his spokesman said on Tues­day after­noon. The col­lec­tor, who was nev­er mar­ried and had no chil­dren, leaves no direct heir or known next of kin.

The trove includ­ed many unre­mark­able works on paper but also sev­er­al valu­able paint­ings. One of those, an Hen­ri Matisse por­trait that Matisse deal­ers say could fetch up to $20 mil­lion at auc­tion, is being chased by the heirs of the late French art deal­er Paul Rosen­berg, includ­ing Anne Sin­clair, a promi­nent jour­nal­ist and ex-wife of for­mer Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

That paint­ing and sev­er­al oth­er art­works were loot­ed from Holo­caust vic­tims dur­ing World War II. It is unclear how the works end­ed up in the col­lec­tion of Mr. Gurlit­t’s father, Hilde­brand, a suc­cess­ful Nazi-era deal­er whom Hitler had tapped to lead his unre­al­ized Führermu­se­um in Linz, Aus­tria after the war.

Ger­man author­i­ties came under fire from major Jew­ish lead­ers, includ­ing Ronald Laud­er and Israeli and Amer­i­can offi­cials because the trove, though con­fis­cat­ed in ear­ly 2012, the was kept secret for two years–even from the Bavar­i­an jus­tice minister–in vio­la­tion of inter­na­tion­al norms on art resti­tu­tion.

At the time, Bavar­i­an tax author­i­ties jus­ti­fied the deci­sion to keep the works’ exis­tence a secret because of their con­tin­u­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into Mr. Gurlit­t’s finances. The Augus­burg pros­e­cu­tor’s office in charge of the inves­ti­ga­tion did­n’t answer calls seek­ing com­ment.

Although that inves­ti­ga­tion will lapse now that Mr. Gurlitt is dead, fresh hur­dles abound, main­ly sur­round­ing a sim­ple ques­tion: who has inher­it­ed Mr. Gurlit­t’s estate?

Christo­pher Marinel­lo, a lawyer for the Rosen­berg heirs, says the fam­i­ly will con­tin­ue pur­su­ing the case, but that “we’ll have to wait for the estate process to run its course.”

It is unclear, though, whom Mr. Marinel­lo should even con­tact or who will be han­dling the estate process.

Giv­en Mr. Gurlit­t’s per­pet­u­al­ly frail state of health, a Ger­man court appoint­ed Munich-based lawyer Christoph Edel as his legal guardian late last year. But Mr. Edel’s posi­tion was “void­ed as soon as Mr. Gurlitt died,” his spokesman, Stephan Holzinger, told The Wall Street Jour­nal.

Mr. Holzinger says he does­n’t even know if Mr. Gurlitt has a will and that his own con­tract will only con­tin­ue for “the next few days.”

“The only guy who could give orders in [resti­tut­ing art] was Mr. Edel, but now his job has end­ed,” said Mr. Holzinger. “The job right now is to find out what’s in the will–if there is a will.”

The lack of cer­tain­ty about a fin­ished will may in part be due to the ten­sions that have plagued Mr. Gurlit­t’s own legal team since it came togeth­er ear­li­er this year.

In Jan­u­ary, The Jour­nal report­ed that Mr. Gurlitt was will­ing to nego­ti­ate the return of works of art with­in the col­lec­tion, but Mr. Gurlit­t’s lawyer, Hannes Har­tung, was fired soon after­ward

Sev­er­al fam­i­lies, includ­ing the Rosen­berg heirs, com­plained that Mr. Har­tung was unwill­ing to rule out a demand for mon­e­tary com­pen­sa­tion for return­ing Nazi-loot­ed art.

Last month tax author­i­ties announced they would return Mr. Gurlit­t’s art­work. Through his legal guardian, Mr. Gurlitt respond­ed to inter­na­tion­al com­plaints by giv­ing the gov­ern­ment-appoint­ed task force that had already been exam­in­ing the prove­nance author­i­ty to spend a year research­ing it and help­ing arrange resti­tu­tion for works that it deter­mined were loot­ed.

But even that task force is uncer­tain now with whom it should coor­di­nate since Mr. Gurlitt is dead.

“We want to ful­fill our duty to research this work as seri­ous­ly as before,” said task force spokesman Matthias Henkel. “We are still work­ing on deter­min­ing with whom to speak now.”

14. Cor­nelius Gurlitt left his art trove–valued at around one $1.35 billion–to a Bern, Switzer­land art muse­um. Switzer­land was and is, of course, a major repos­i­to­ry for much of the Bor­mann flight cap­i­tal. One can but won­der if this muse­um has con­nec­tions with the Bor­mann group.

Notice, also, that Gurlitt had a sec­ond res­i­dence in Salzburg, Aus­tria. As dis­cussed in FTR #791, the Ger­man author­i­ties had no record of Cor­nelius Gurlitt. In a coun­try where every cit­i­zen must reg­is­ter with the police of his or her res­i­den­tial area, this is unthink­able and indica­tive of some high-lev­el chi­canery.

“ ‘Nazi Art’ Hoard­er Gurlitt Makes Swiss Muse­um Sole Heir”; BBC News; 5/7/2014.

Ger­man Nazi-era art hoard­er Cor­nelius Gurlitt, who died on Tues­day, has made the Bern Art Muse­um in Switzer­land his “sole heir”.

The reclu­sive son of Adolf Hitler’s art deal­er is esti­mat­ed to have amassed a col­lec­tion worth up to a bil­lion euros.

The muse­um said the news struck “like a bolt from the blue”, giv­en that it had had no rela­tion­ship with Mr Gurlitt.

The col­lec­tion was the sub­ject of a long legal dis­pute over works that may have been tak­en ille­gal­ly by the Nazis.

The Bern Art Muse­um said that it was delight­ed at the news that it had been made Mr Gurlit­t’s “unre­strict­ed and unfet­tered sole heir”, but added that the bequest also posed some ques­tions.

“The Board of Trustees and direc­tors of Kun­st­mu­se­um Bern are sur­prised and delight­ed, but at the same time do not wish to con­ceal the fact that this mag­nif­i­cent bequest brings with it a con­sid­er­able bur­den of respon­si­bil­i­ty and a wealth of ques­tions of the most dif­fi­cult and sen­si­tive kind, and ques­tions in par­tic­u­lar of a legal and eth­i­cal nature”, it said in a state­ment.

Mr Gurlit­t’s father, Hilde­brand Gurlitt, was ordered to deal in works that had been seized from Jews, or which the Nazis con­sid­ered “degen­er­ate” and had removed from Ger­man muse­ums.

The price­less col­lec­tion was con­fis­cat­ed in 2012 by Bavar­i­an author­i­ties from the apart­ment of his son.

After ini­tial­ly refus­ing to give up the paint­ings, Mr Gurlitt changed his posi­tion, agree­ing to co-oper­ate with the Ger­man author­i­ties on estab­lish­ing the paint­ings’ prove­nance, and return­ing them if they were shown to be stolen.

‘Wild spec­u­la­tion’
Mr Gurlitt, who had no close rel­a­tives, wrote the will with­in the last few weeks short­ly before under­go­ing heart surgery, accord­ing to his spokesman, Stephan Holzinger.

“It now falls to the pro­bate court to deter­mine if the will is valid and whether a con­tract of inher­i­tance exists,” he told the BBC ear­li­er on Wednes­day.

“I can under­stand that there is now wild spec­u­la­tion, but I don’t want to com­ment on that at this stage.”

The Ger­man gov­ern­ment said ear­li­er that the col­lec­tor’s death would not affect the inves­ti­ga­tion into own­er­ships claims on the paint­ings.

Mr Gurlit­t’s col­lec­tion only came to light after a rou­tine check found he was car­ry­ing wads of cash on a train from Switzer­land, trig­ger­ing a tax inquiry.

Inves­ti­ga­tors found more than 1,400 works in his flat in Munich in Feb­ru­ary 2012 — though they only revealed the dis­cov­ery in late 2013 — and a fur­ther 60 in his house near Salzburg, Aus­tria, ear­li­er this year. 

Among them were works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picas­so, Marc Cha­gall, Emil Nolde and Max Lieber­mann.

The col­lec­tion is esti­mat­ed to be worth up to a bil­lion euros (£850m; $1.35bn).

Under Ger­man law, Cor­nelius Gurlitt was not com­pelled to return any paint­ings because the inci­dents hap­pened more than 30 years ago.

Discussion

4 comments for “FTR #791 They May Not Know Art, but They Know What They Like”

  1. Cor­nelius Gurlitt just died. And since he had no heirs and no known next of kin, no one seems to know what to do with his col­lec­tion. What is known is that the inves­ti­ga­tion into how he acquired the trea­sure trove is end­ing:

    The Wall Street Jour­nal
    May 6, 2014, 2:33 p.m. ET

    Ger­man Art Col­lec­tor in Nazi Loot Uproar Dies at 81 — Update

    By Mary M. Lane

    BERLIN– Cor­nelius Gurlitt, the octo­ge­nar­i­an son of one of Adolf Hitler’s major art deal­ers, died in his Munich home on Tues­day morn­ing, leav­ing the fate of his rough­ly 1,400 art­works unclear.

    Legal ques­tions now swarm sur­round­ing how–and even if–loot­ed works in the col­lec­tion can now be resti­tut­ed to Holo­caust vic­tims and their heirs.

    Mr. Gurlitt, 81 years old, stepped from com­plete obscu­ri­ty into world-wide promi­nence last fall after Ger­man media reports sur­faced that Bavar­i­an tax author­i­ties had con­fis­cat­ed in ear­ly 2012 what is regard­ed as the largest-ever trove of Nazi-loot­ed art in pri­vate hands.

    The fact that the find remained unre­port­ed for near­ly two years and the gov­ern­men­t’s refusal to put pres­sure on Mr. Gurlitt to return any loot­ed art­work to heirs of their orig­i­nal own­ers drew inter­na­tion­al crit­i­cism of Ger­many from the U.S., France and Israel.

    Mr. Gurlitt died in the pres­ence of his doc­tor and care­tak­ers, a few weeks after request­ing that he return home from a Bavar­i­an hos­pi­tal where he had under­gone inten­sive heart surgery, his spokesman said on Tues­day after­noon. The col­lec­tor, who was nev­er mar­ried and had no chil­dren, leaves no direct heir or known next of kin.

    The trove includ­ed many unre­mark­able works on paper but also sev­er­al valu­able paint­ings. One of those, an Hen­ri Matisse por­trait that Matisse deal­ers say could fetch up to $20 mil­lion at auc­tion, is being chased by the heirs of the late French art deal­er Paul Rosen­berg, includ­ing Anne Sin­clair, a promi­nent jour­nal­ist and ex-wife of for­mer Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

    That paint­ing and sev­er­al oth­er art­works were loot­ed from Holo­caust vic­tims dur­ing World War II. It is unclear how the works end­ed up in the col­lec­tion of Mr. Gurlit­t’s father, Hilde­brand, a suc­cess­ful Nazi-era deal­er whom Hitler had tapped to lead his unre­al­ized Führermu­se­um in Linz, Aus­tria after the war.

    Ger­man author­i­ties came under fire from major Jew­ish lead­ers, includ­ing Ronald Laud­er and Israeli and Amer­i­can offi­cials because the trove, though con­fis­cat­ed in ear­ly 2012, the was kept secret for two years–even from the Bavar­i­an jus­tice minister–in vio­la­tion of inter­na­tion­al norms on art resti­tu­tion.

    At the time, Bavar­i­an tax author­i­ties jus­ti­fied the deci­sion to keep the works’ exis­tence a secret because of their con­tin­u­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into Mr. Gurlit­t’s finances. The Augus­burg pros­e­cu­tor’s office in charge of the inves­ti­ga­tion did­n’t answer calls seek­ing com­ment.

    Although that inves­ti­ga­tion will lapse now that Mr. Gurlitt is dead, fresh hur­dles abound, main­ly sur­round­ing a sim­ple ques­tion: who has inher­it­ed Mr. Gurlit­t’s estate?

    Christo­pher Marinel­lo, a lawyer for the Rosen­berg heirs, says the fam­i­ly will con­tin­ue pur­su­ing the case, but that “we’ll have to wait for the estate process to run its course.”

    It is unclear, though, whom Mr. Marinel­lo should even con­tact or who will be han­dling the estate process.

    Giv­en Mr. Gurlit­t’s per­pet­u­al­ly frail state of health, a Ger­man court appoint­ed Munich-based lawyer Christoph Edel as his legal guardian late last year. But Mr. Edel’s posi­tion was “void­ed as soon as Mr. Gurlitt died,” his spokesman, Stephan Holzinger, told The Wall Street Jour­nal.

    Mr. Holzinger says he does­n’t even know if Mr. Gurlitt has a will and that his own con­tract will only con­tin­ue for “the next few days.”

    “The only guy who could give orders in [resti­tut­ing art] was Mr. Edel, but now his job has end­ed,” said Mr. Holzinger. “The job right now is to find out what’s in the will–if there is a will.”

    The lack of cer­tain­ty about a fin­ished will may in part be due to the ten­sions that have plagued Mr. Gurlit­t’s own legal team since it came togeth­er ear­li­er this year.

    In Jan­u­ary, The Jour­nal report­ed that Mr. Gurlitt was will­ing to nego­ti­ate the return of works of art with­in the col­lec­tion, but Mr. Gurlit­t’s lawyer, Hannes Har­tung, was fired soon after­ward

    Sev­er­al fam­i­lies, includ­ing the Rosen­berg heirs, com­plained that Mr. Har­tung was unwill­ing to rule out a demand for mon­e­tary com­pen­sa­tion for return­ing Nazi-loot­ed art.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 6, 2014, 11:26 am
  2. Hola Hitler! Ex CIA agent claims Nazi leader faked his death and flew to Tener­ife before escap­ing to Argenti­na on a U‑Boat

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3390687/Hola-Hitler-Ex-CIA-agent-claims-Nazi-leader-faked-death-flew-Tenerife-escaping-Argentina-U-Boat.html

    • Ex-CIA agent Bob Baer does not believe Hitler’s death sto­ry is con­clu­sive
    • Baer, a spy for 21 years, said Hitler could have eas­i­ly faked his death
    • New­ly declas­si­fied FBI doc­u­ments sug­gest he could have got to Tener­ife
    • Oth­er doc­u­ments claim the Nazi leader made it to Argenti­na by sub­ma­rine

    By DARREN BOYLE FOR MAILONLINE
    PUBLISHED: 11:59 EST, 8 Jan­u­ary 2016 | UPDATED: 14:40 EST, 8 Jan­u­ary 2016

    A CIA agent with more than 21-years’ field expe­ri­ence claims new­ly declas­si­fied evi­dence sug­gests that Adolf Hitler faked his own death before escap­ing to the Canary Islands by air before con­tin­u­ing to Argenti­na.

    Bob Baer, who spent his life­time involved in counter-intel­li­gence and espi­onage said the offi­cial ver­sion of his­to­ry with Hitler killing him­self in his Berlin bunker does not stand up to offi­cial scruti­ny.

    He claims that new­ly released FBI files sug­gest that inves­ti­ga­tors at the time were also sus­pi­cious about whether the Nazi dic­ta­tor had shot him­self in the head.

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    Ex-CIA agent Robert Baer, pic­tured, believes the offi­cial his­to­ry of Adolf Hitler’s death is not con­clu­sive

    Baer believes Adolf Hitler, could have eas­i­ly faked his own death and flown out of Berlin

    Accord­ing to the Hunt­ing Hitler doc­u­men­tary on His­to­ry Chan­nel, there was no eye­wit­ness report of Hitler’s sui­cide or of any­one dis­cov­er­ing his body inside his bunker.

    The team, fol­low­ing snip­pets of evi­dence, said it was plau­si­ble that Hitler could have faked his own death and escaped through the Tem­ple­hof air­port on the day after he was last seen in pub­lic. One of the air­craft which left dur­ing the mass Nazi exo­dus is believed to have con­tained his lug­gage.

    Dur­ing the con­tro­ver­sial doc­u­men­tary series, Baer claims: ‘The nar­ra­tive the gov­ern­ment gives us is a lie. if you look at the FBI files it throws open the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    ‘What we are doing is re-exam­in­ing his­to­ry, his­to­ry that we thought was set­tled that Hitler died in the bunker but the deep­er we get into it, it’s clear to me we don’t have any facts for it.’

    One of the declas­si­fied doc­u­ments express­es con­cern that Hitler’s body had not been recov­ered and the com­plete lack of evi­dence of his death.

    The con­tro­ver­sial the­o­ry claims that Hitler flew to the Canary Island and board­ed a U‑Boat which trans­port­ed him to a Nazi-friend­ly area of Argenti­na.

    Posted by Sojourner Truth | January 9, 2016, 11:41 am
  3. This arti­cle talks about how the “Mon­u­ments Men” gave some art to the Bavar­i­an State to give back to Jew­ish Fam­i­lies but some of it was sold to Nazis cheap­ly:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3677147/Were-famous-Monuments-Men-WWII-betrayed-Heroes-risked-lives-rescuing-stolen-Jewish-art-Bavaria-sell-prominent-Nazis-claims-new-study.html

    Were the famous Mon­u­ments Men of WWII betrayed?

    The Mon­u­ments Men of the Sec­ond World War risked their lives res­cu­ing stolen Jew­ish art — only for Bavaria to sell it back to promi­nent Nazis, a study has claimed.

    A team of experts from 13 dif­fer­ent coun­tries were tasked with sav­ing as much of the cul­ture of Europe as they could dur­ing com­bat.

    But accord­ing to new research, some of the art work they put their lives on the line to make safe was sim­ply sold back to Nazi fam­i­lies ‘on the cheap’.

    Fox News cites The Art News­pa­per as say­ing the group hand­ed 10,600 art­works over to the Bavar­i­an State Paint­ings Col­lec­tion after the war under the under­stand­ing they were to be giv­en back to Jew­ish fam­i­lies.

    But Anne Web­ber of the Com­mis­sion for Loot­ed Art in Europe (CLAE) said some were offered to Ger­mans, includ­ing promi­nent Nazis.

    Between 1961 and 1998 at least 500 works which should have been reunit­ed with the fam­i­lies of the orig­i­nal own­ers were sold on, accord­ing to the paper which cit­ed recent­ly doc­u­ments from the Lon­don Com­mis­sion for Loot­ed Art in Europe.

    ‘The claims of Nazi fam­i­lies were stu­dious­ly dealt with in a far dif­fer­ent way than the demands of the dis­pos­sessed own­ers,’ said the Süd­deutsche.

    It cit­ed the case of Hen­ri­ette Hoff­mann, daugh­ter of Hitler’s per­son­al pho­tog­ra­ph­er Hein­rich Hoff­mann and for­mer wife of Hitler Youth leader Bal­dur von Schirach.

    She was allowed to pur­chase a paint­ing from the Bavar­i­an col­lec­tions in 1963 which orig­i­nal­ly belonged to a Jew­ish fam­i­ly from Vien­na. 

    Alto­geth­er the Hoff­mann fam­i­ly got back a total of 28 works of Carl Spitzweg, Carl sheets, Wil­helm Leibl and Franz von Stuck with­out any prob­lems. Schirach, who was sen­tenced at the Nurem­berg War Crimes tri­als to a 20 year jail term, was once gov­er­nor of Vien­na and respon­si­ble for orga­niz­ing the depor­ta­tion of Jews to the con­cen­tra­tion camps.  

    The Times of Israel quotes CLAE as say­ing: ‘It seems that Bavaria thought resti­tu­tion meant resti­tu­tion to the Nazis rather than to their vic­tims.’

    An inves­ti­ga­tion run in con­junc­tion with Munich’s Süd­deutsche Zeitung also claimed state muse­um’s kept art with­in their col­lec­tions — and may have tried to ‘dis­guise’ the ori­gins.

    Art News­pa­per says the Bavar­i­an State Paint­ings Col­lec­tion rejects claims it hin­dered resti­tu­tion.

    It said it was com­mit­ted to secur­ing ‘fair and just solu­tions’ with the descen­dants of those whose art was loot­ed by the Nazis.

    The organ­i­sa­tion said it would be as ‘trans­par­ent as pos­si­ble’ in its probe into art stolen by par­ty offi­cials. 

    The Mon­u­ments Men drama­tised recov­ery of stolen WW2 art

    SAVING EUROPE’S ART FROM THE NAZIS: WHO WERE THE MONUMENTS MEN?

    The Mon­u­ments Men was the name giv­en to mem­bers of the Mon­u­ments, Fine Arts, and Archives pro­gramme rolled out dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

    It was estab­lished in 1943 to help pro­tect cul­tur­al prop­er­ty in war areas dur­ing and after the war under the umbrel­la of the Civ­il Affairs and Mil­i­tary Gov­ern­ment Sec­tions of the Allied armies.

    The group of approx­i­mate­ly 400 ser­vice mem­bers and civil­ians worked with mil­i­tary forces to safe­guard his­toric and cul­tur­al mon­u­ments from war dam­age, and as the con­flict came to a close, to find and return works of art and oth­er items of cul­tur­al impor­tance that had been stolen by the Nazis or hid­den for safe­keep­ing.

    By the end of their deploy­ment they had saved thou­sands of items which would go on to be reunit­ed with their right­ful own­ers. 

    Many of the men and women of the MFAA were art his­to­ri­ans and muse­um per­son­nel who went on to have pro­lif­ic careers.

    After the war they had for­ma­tive roles in the growth of many of the Unit­ed States’ great­est cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions, includ­ing the Nation­al Gallery of Art, the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art, and the New York City Bal­let, as well as in muse­ums and oth­er insti­tu­tions in Europe.

    In 2014, an all-star Hol­ly­wood cast includ­ing George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Mur­ray, Hugh Bon­neville and John Good­man starred in a war com­e­dy chart­ing the work done by the unit.

    Mon­u­ments Men was based on the non-fic­tion book the Mon­u­ments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Great­est Trea­sure Hunt in His­to­ry by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Wit­ter.

    George Clooney talks about stolen Nazi art siezures

    Posted by RB | July 8, 2016, 8:23 am
  4. Here’s anoth­er his­tor­i­cal reminder that the one of the ways the Under­ground Reich may have been able to diver­si­fy its finan­cial assets itself in the post-war peri­od was through the stolen art. Yes, sell­ing stolen art was one obvi­ous approach. But as the arti­cle below points out, it could also include buy­ing the stolen art back from author­i­ties at bar­gain prices and then reselling it. Or just keep it as an invest­ment:

    The New York Times

    Nazi Art Loot Returned ... to Nazis

    By DOREEN CARVAJAL and ALISON SMALE
    JULY 15, 2016

    MUNICH — Years after World War II, Amer­i­can offi­cials here entrust­ed more than 10,000 con­fis­cat­ed art­works to Bavar­i­an author­i­ties to return to the right­ful own­ers, many of them Jews whose prop­er­ty had been plun­dered.

    But new research in the yel­low­ing archives here makes clear how relent­less­ly Nazi fam­i­lies pur­sued the Bavar­i­an offi­cials, bad­ger­ing them, often suc­cess­ful­ly, to return art they brazen­ly con­tin­ued to view as their prop­er­ty.

    Hitler’s pri­vate sec­re­tary, Hen­ri­ette von Schirach, and her fam­i­ly plead­ed with offi­cials of the Bavar­i­an State Paint­ing Col­lec­tions to turn over near­ly 300 works, includ­ing a small land­scape, “View of a Dutch Square” by the Dutch artist Jan van der Hey­den.

    Before the war, the paint­ing had been owned by Got­tlieb and Mathilde Kraus, Jews who fled their Vien­na pent­house, leav­ing behind a care­ful­ly packed col­lec­tion of art that was then con­fis­cat­ed by the Gestapo in 1941.

    Mrs. von Schirach per­suad­ed the Bavar­i­ans to give it back to her for a pit­tance — 300 Deutschmarks, which was rough­ly $75 then or near­ly $600 now.

    “The basic ele­ment of this sto­ry is this: They stole from my fam­i­ly,” said John Graykows­ki, 62, the Kraus­es’ great-grand­son, “and then they gave it back to the guy who stole it from them. How does that work?”

    It turns out, the archives show, that hun­dreds of works were actu­al­ly sold back at dis­count­ed prices in the 1950s and the 1960s to the very Nazis who had tak­en pos­ses­sion of them, includ­ing the wid­ow of Her­mann Goer­ing, a senior aide to Hitler who pil­laged art to amass a col­lec­tion of more than a thou­sand works.

    This murky chap­ter of his­to­ry came to light because of Mr. Graykowski’s search for some 160 miss­ing works from the Kraus col­lec­tion. In 2009, Mr. Graykows­ki, a Vir­ginia lawyer, enlist­ed the help of the Com­mis­sion for Loot­ed Art in Europe, a Lon­don-based non­prof­it that researched the archives for him and made key dis­cov­er­ies.

    Anne Web­ber, a founder of the com­mis­sion, said her researchers con­clud­ed that the resale of loot­ed art to Nazi-tied fam­i­lies had hard­ly been iso­lat­ed. “They called them a ‘return sale,’” she said. “Why were they returned to them rather than the fam­i­ly from whom they were loot­ed? Nobody knew.”

    The return sales to Nazi fam­i­lies — first report­ed in late June by the Munich dai­ly Süd­deutsche Zeitung — are also caus­ing polit­i­cal recrim­i­na­tions. This week, a Bavar­i­an state Par­lia­ment com­mit­tee demand­ed an account­ing from gov­ern­ment offi­cials about the extent of the sys­tem to resell art to Nazi fam­i­lies and a tal­ly of how many loot­ed works remain in gov­ern­ment pos­ses­sion that could be returned to the prop­er heirs.

    Mrs. von Schirach’s grand­son Fer­di­nand von Schirach — a best-sell­ing Ger­man author whose grand­fa­ther was impris­oned for 20 years for the depor­ta­tion of more than 60,000 Aus­tri­an Jews — is also pledg­ing to inves­ti­gate the prove­nance of his late grandmother’s art.

    “We need to know about the evil,” he said. “That’s the only way we can live with it.”

    The dis­creet art trade with Nazi rel­a­tives emerged in 1949, four years after the war, when the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary trans­ferred respon­si­bil­i­ty for resti­tu­tion of loot­ed works to the West Ger­mans and Aus­tri­ans. Munich became the hub of a net­work of art deal­ers and state offi­cials who had helped dri­ve Nazi loot­ing and then after the war fos­tered traf­fick­ing in those works.

    The paint­ing collection’s archives illus­trate in great detail the efforts by fam­i­lies like the von Schirachs to retain the art. The fam­i­ly patri­arch was Bal­dur von Schirach, a Nazi gov­er­nor in Vien­na who was tried for war crimes in Nurem­berg. While he was impris­oned in Span­dau, his wife, Hen­ri­ette, and rel­a­tives worked for more than a decade to reclaim art, car­pets and fur­ni­ture.

    Accord­ing to archival doc­u­ments, her father, Hein­rich Hoff­mann, who was Hitler’s per­son­al pho­tog­ra­ph­er, sought to claim a list of 278 paint­ings that had been con­fis­cat­ed by units like the Mon­u­ments Men, an Allied group devot­ed to recov­er­ing and return­ing loot­ed art.

    But the Amer­i­cans were sus­pi­cious of him, accord­ing to one inves­ti­ga­tor who said in a 1945 doc­u­ment that “the inter­ro­ga­tion of Hoff­mann is a thank­less task.” The inves­ti­ga­tor added,“He is an alco­holic and has all the weak­ness­es which go with this vice.”

    Mrs. von Schirach tire­less­ly con­tin­ued the efforts, chas­ing the most­ly Ger­man art­works. By 1953, at least 89 works had been promised to the fam­i­ly. By 1957, her broth­er had recov­ered 170.

    In one exam­ple of her zeal, Mrs. von Schirach got back a table after per­suad­ing a Munich antique deal­er to tes­ti­fy in 1954 that she had pur­chased it from his store in 1932.

    Robert M. Edsel, whose 2009 book, “The Mon­u­ments Men,” inspired a movie by that name star­ring George Clooney, said he was not sur­prised by the secret sales.

    “This is the prob­lem for coun­tries, uni­ver­si­ties, pri­vate indi­vid­u­als or auc­tion hous­es that just want the Nazis era issues to go away,” he said. “The more they avoid trans­paren­cy, the more it refu­els inter­est and frus­tra­tion. Why does it mat­ter so many years lat­er? It’s stolen.”

    Jonathan Petropou­los, a his­to­ri­an at Clare­mont McKen­na Col­lege in Cal­i­for­nia who stud­ied the post­war Munich art net­work, said the Bavar­i­ans failed to fol­low promis­es to the Amer­i­cans that they would find the right­ful own­ers of the art. “Offi­cials from both gov­ern­ments said they would con­tin­ue to con­duct research, but this scarce­ly hap­pened, at least, for many decades,” he said.

    In the Graykows­ki case, the researchers found that the late 17th cen­tu­ry oil paint­ing “View of a Dutch Square,” appar­ent­ly from van der Heyden’s stu­dio, had passed through the offi­cial col­lect­ing points in post­war Munich where the Mon­u­ments Men gath­ered loot­ed art for resti­tu­tion.

    In 1962, the state muse­um sold it and a 17th-cen­tu­ry land­scape from the Kraus col­lec­tion to Mrs. von Schirach.

    The cur­rent own­er of the Dutch oil paint­ing is the Catholic Cathe­dral Asso­ci­a­tion of Xan­ten in North-Rhine West­phalia in Ger­many. It said it pur­chased the work in 1963, a year after Mrs. von Schirach recov­ered it at an auc­tion in Cologne for 16,100 Deutschmarks, which was about $4,000 then or around $31,000 at today’s rates — 50 times what she had paid for it.

    Its cur­rent val­ue is unclear, but it is sim­i­lar to anoth­er work of a cathe­dral square by van der Hey­den that hangs in the Lou­vre in Paris.

    Hans-Wil­helm Bark­ing, the cathe­dral association’s chair­man, said that the group is will­ing to nego­ti­ate a return to Mr. Graykows­ki and his fam­i­ly if cer­tain “require­ments are met.”

    But the two sides are in a stale­mate. The Kraus descen­dants dis­agreed over the choice of a medi­a­tor and the association’s demand for some sort of a return on its invest­ment. Mr. Bark­ing said they were still wait­ing for a nota­rized list of the Kraus heirs. Mr. Graykows­ki, the great-grand­son, said that the mate­r­i­al had been sent and that the church asso­ci­a­tion was stalling.

    Mr. Graykows­ki said he hoped his family’s sto­ry would weigh on pri­vate col­lec­tors with prob­lem­at­ic works. His great-grand­par­ents were elder­ly when they moved to the Unit­ed States, he said, and so scarred by their loss­es in Vien­na that they refused to speak in Ger­man.

    ...

    “It turns out, the archives show, that hun­dreds of works were actu­al­ly sold back at dis­count­ed prices in the 1950s and the 1960s to the very Nazis who had tak­en pos­ses­sion of them, includ­ing the wid­ow of Her­mann Goer­ing, a senior aide to Hitler who pil­laged art to amass a col­lec­tion of more than a thou­sand works.”

    Keep in mind that this arti­cle just addressed the state of Bavari­a’s trou­bling his­to­ry of sell­ing back stolen art to Nazi fam­i­lies at dis­count­ed prices. Let’s hope sim­i­lar inquiries are now be pur­sued in oth­er Ger­man states and else­where.
    Also note the poten­tial­ly lucra­tive nature of these sale:

    ...
    In the Graykows­ki case, the researchers found that the late 17th cen­tu­ry oil paint­ing “View of a Dutch Square,” appar­ent­ly from van der Heyden’s stu­dio, had passed through the offi­cial col­lect­ing points in post­war Munich where the Mon­u­ments Men gath­ered loot­ed art for resti­tu­tion.

    In 1962, the state muse­um sold it and a 17th-cen­tu­ry land­scape from the Kraus col­lec­tion to Mrs. von Schirach.

    The cur­rent own­er of the Dutch oil paint­ing is the Catholic Cathe­dral Asso­ci­a­tion of Xan­ten in North-Rhine West­phalia in Ger­many. It said it pur­chased the work in 1963, a year after Mrs. von Schirach recov­ered it at an auc­tion in Cologne for 16,100 Deutschmarks, which was about $4,000 then or around $31,000 at today’s rates — 50 times what she had paid for it.

    Its cur­rent val­ue is unclear, but it is sim­i­lar to anoth­er work of a cathe­dral square by van der Hey­den that hangs in the Lou­vre in Paris.
    ...

    “Its cur­rent val­ue is unclear, but it is sim­i­lar to anoth­er work of a cathe­dral square by van der Hey­den that hangs in the Lou­vre in Paris.”

    So Hitler’s pri­vate sec­re­tary man­aged to by an oil paint­ing in 1962 through one of these ‘return sales’. And then turned around sold for 50 times the pur­chase price a year lat­er. How much is the paint­ing actu­al­ly worth? That’s hard to say but a com­pa­ra­ble paint­ing hangs in the Lou­vre. And this is some­thing that appears to have hap­pened with a num­ber of Nazi fam­i­lies.

    As we can see, Nazi ‘gold’ was­n’t just gold. And it did­n’t all get imme­di­ate­ly tak­en under­ground. Some of it was resold years lat­er at fire sale prices by the state of Bavaria and who knows where else. It rais­es the ques­tion of just how much the loot­ing Nazi art is worth this many decades lat­er. That’s hard to answer since it sounds like some of the art might be price­less. Or at least real­ly, real­ly expen­sive, like any­thing hang­ing in the Lou­vre.

    It’s a pret­ty dis­turb­ing chap­ter of his­to­ry, in part because it demon­strates the extent to which ex-high-lev­el Nazis were basi­cal­ly treat­ed with kid gloves in many instances once the task of deal­ing with these kinds of his­tor­i­cal injus­tices got hand­ed off to author­i­ties deeply inter­twined with those injus­tices. But when you read about these kinds of sales hap­pen­ing in 1962, it’s also a reminder that we’re sort of talk­ing about the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of the Under­ground Reich get­ting kid glove treat­ment. As Paul Man­ning’s Mar­tin Bor­mann: Nazi in Exile makes clear (and as dis­cussed in shows like FTR #155), the Under­ground Reich is a trans­gen­er­a­tional phe­nom­e­na which is part of why it’s going to be impor­tant to inves­ti­gate where these ‘return sales’ hap­pened and for how long it was tak­ing place.

    You also have to won­der if any of the price­less art stolen over the past 50 years or so was done at the behest the con­tem­po­rary Under­ground Reich. There’s pre­sum­ably vaults of stolen unre­cov­ered works sit­ting some­where. Why not add to the vaults if that’s the type of long-term invest­ment your orga­ni­za­tion holds. Who knows if that’s the case, but if price­less art theft is some­thing the Under­ground Reich does actu­al­ly do, there’s at least one mod­ern work of art that had bet­ter be well guard­ed. It’s not a price­less work of art. But if you’re a cryp­to-Nazi, it’s a pret­ty price­less paint­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 21, 2016, 6:26 pm

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