Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Third Reich's Pillage of European Art and Treasures

Hitler's Possessions

Nazi invasion of Poland
Nazi invasion of Poland
 

Confiscation operations were methodically planned and carried out by various Nazi organizations. Some of the well-known organizations, which specialized in acquiring and preserving pure art, included the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), Hitlers private outfit; the Sounderauftrag; the Kunstschutz, which was concerned with guarding art works; and the Ahnenerbe organization that focused mostly on ancient artifacts. Nicholas claimed that the Nazi art agencies had completely different policies for Eastern and Western Europe. In the East, any object that was not of German origin was destroyed. However, Nicholas suggested that pieces confiscated in the West were often stored in warehouses.

Adolf Hitler at a Germanic art exhibit
Adolf Hitler at a Germanic art exhibit
 

Hitler contemplated what to do with the vast amount of treasure and art that had accumulated in his storerooms. He required that every confiscated object be catalogued and sometimes photographed so that he could view for himself what was appropriate. The items he liked were set aside for the Linz collection. Hitler believed in the preservation and safeguarding of some objects, as long as they conformed to his principles and taste.

Hans Posse
Hans Posse

Hitler appointed Hans Posse to help build up his collection by acquiring as many museum quality works as possible that fit the strict criteria of the state. However, Hitler always had the final choice in what would be allowed. The pieces stored at the Linz galleries were considered to be Hitlers personal possessions.

The Lost Museum
The Lost Museum
 

According to Hector Felicianos book The Lost Museum, a woman named Maria Dietrich, one of Hitlers confidants and a friend of Eva Braun became another of the führers chief art purchasers. She conducted her activities primarily in France. Nicholas said that, between 1940 and 1945 she bought some 320 paintings in Paris, of which 80 went to the Linz collection. Even though she had little taste or knowledge of art, she successfully managed to sell many art pieces directly to Hitler for a substantial profit.  

The Linz collection was significant. Within five years, Hitlers art collection grew to approximately 8,000 paintings. The only other person to have such a massive private art collection was the head of the Luftwaffe, Minister of the Interior and Hitlers successor, Hermann Göering.

Categories
Advertisement