Art, Art History, Looted Art

$800 M in Nazi-Looted Art May be Hidden in German Mine

Mail Online reports that an expedition has been launched in Germany to recover £500 million ($800 million) worth of missing artworks looted by the Nazis in World War Two.

Monets, Manets, Cezannes and masterpieces by other artists, along with sculptures, carpets and tapestries, are believed to be buried in an old silver mine near the Czech-German border, 90 minutes’ drive from the city of Dresden.

The paintings formed the bulk of the Hatvany collection, the property of Baron Ferenc Hatvany, who was a leading Hungarian-Jewish industrialist and art patron.

Mother lode: If the looted artworks are found in a mine, it will not be the first such discovery. In this picture from 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, center, inspects paintings hoarded in a salt mine at Merkers, near Gotha, Germany

Mother lode: If the looted artworks are found in a mine, it will not be the first such discovery. In this picture from 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, centre, inspects paintings uncovered in a salt mine at Merkers, Germany.

But most of the Hatvany Collection, between 250 and 500 pieces, was looted on the orders of Holocaust organiser Adolf Eichmann, who was in Hungary in 1944 and instituted a policy of arresting Jews and then releasing them in exchange for property. He also shipped 400,000 of them to Auschwitz, where they were gassed almost upon arrival.

Viennese historian Burkhart List, 62, says he has acquired documents from old Wehrmacht archives that report a mass shipment of the Hatvany collection to two subterranean galleries, measuring 6,000 by 4,500 feet, in the Erzgebirge Mountains.

With the permission of the mayor of nearby Deutschkatherinenberg, Hans-Peter Haustein, he deployed a neutron generator inside the mountain to probe for the secret chambers. The device revealed that, 180 feet down, there are workings detailed on no maps and they appear to be man-made, not natural.

Mr List said: ‘In the winter of 1944 – 1945 the records indicate that a mysterious transport arrived here from Budapest that was coded top secret.’  Read the entire article here.

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “$800 M in Nazi-Looted Art May be Hidden in German Mine

  1. That’s great news, I hope they find the art!

    It’s on my shelf to read still, but apparently “Rape of Europa” by Lynn Nicholas is a great book about Nazi art theft in WWII.

    Posted by Shtina | April 1, 2012, 8:28 pm
  2. Hats off to all those who across history have taken heroic steps to protect our artistic heritage from the perils of war!! And yes, I too would be ecstatic if a horde of new treasures emerged from these mines.

    Posted by elliottingotham | April 1, 2012, 8:49 pm

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