Saturday 7 November 2020

das wiesbadener manifest

Declared on this day in 1945 from their base of operations (collection point) in the occupied capital of Hessen, the officers that comprised the special commission of the Monuments Fine Arts and Archives organisation (the MFAA, the group also known as the Monuments Men) was a stern rejection that European treasure should be taken to the United States as plunder and the spoils of war.  The recovery and restitution efforts beginning earlier that summer, the programme’s first director CPT Walter I Farmer of the US Army Corps of Engineers received a large shipment of Nazi-looted art and antiquities, and soon the enormity of the task was apparent, prompting the issuing of the manifesto, announcing: “We wish to state that, from our own knowledge, no historical grievance will rankle so long or be the cause of so much justified bitterness as the removal for any reason of a part of the heritage of any nation even if that heritage may be interpreted as a prize of war.” Over seven hundred thousand objects and artefacts were catalogued by the organisation, stolen from museums (works from the Berlin Gemรคldegalerie and Nationalgalerie including Botticelli, Rembrant, Rubens and Cranach), private collections, Jewish citizens and political dissidents and were kept safeguarded from reparation claims and trophies of war that had been taken back to America were repatriated, President Truman getting involved with the debate and ordering paintings and sculptures returned to Germany in 1948.