Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ordinary Rose to Extraordinary

Monument Men 

Here's our tribute to the incredible Monument Men who helped save Europe's historic art:

They took on a task that many underestimated; including their own forces. It became one of America and Britain’s greatest art recovery operation. 

This name may ring a bell. There is a film entitled The Monuments Men being released in the theaters February 7th, which provides a dramatic reenactment of what many of those men endured to save Europe’s historic art.

Go back to the Fall of 1943. The Sicilian landings during World War II marked the beginning of the Allied Italian campaign and the start of the Monument Men. British and American art experts and curators worked together throughout the war to maintain as many art pieces as possible. However, they faced flak for their lack of military experience. They were considered to be a group of art historians, architects, artists, archaeologists and archivists who in short were “a straight civilian lot” at the start of operations in Italy. In the eyes of soldiers, they had no business moving around a war role-playing and telling colonels and generals what not to bomb. Their nickname, “the Venus Fixers” lasted much of the war, but it didn’t undermine their gusto.

Their story is truly incredible. They began as a group of two British officers and friends, and by the end of the war their group expanded to 27 total. They created safe landmarks for the art and tried to prevent areas with large amounts of art from getting bombed. While they were saving the art, they also had to dodge German mines and Allied bombs.

By the end of the war, they had covered the Italian peninsula from east to west and north to south and initiated repair work on 700 historic buildings. In the face of an ‘art lover’s nightmare’ these Monument Men showed their countries they were true hero’s living an art historian’s dream. 

To learn more about folk heroes and heroines, click here.

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