Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hitler's Heinous Hoard

Hundreds of thousands of art pieces across Europe were systematically and brutally looted by Adolf Hitler's Third Reich over the span of the Second World War, mostly from world renowned Jewish owned art collections. These illegal acquisitions were cataloged by the Nazis and presented to Hitler in several albums, from where he would select pieces for a museum to be created in Linz, Austria. Towards the end of the war, realizing Germany's imminent defeat; Hitler ordered the burying of the hoard to be retrieved at some future date when Germany's glorious past is restored. After 63 years, two treasure hunters are optimistic, this year, the hoard will be found.

Heinz Peter Haustein, a member of the German Parliament, is financing the current expedition together with Christian Hanisch, whose father was a navigator for the Luftwaffe involved in hiding the treasures. Hanisch's father left him the coordinates that lead to Germany's ore mountains in Deutschneudorf; a copper mine until the 19th century, shut down in 1882. The expedition's geological equipment have detected a cave about 30 feet below the surface, but digging was discontinued due to the possibility of traps and explosives that may have been planted at the site.

Of the Many treasures that could be retrieved, Haustein hopes to find the Amber Room, or at least significant clues to its whereabouts. Parts of it have reappeared but the vast majority have remained hidden. The Amber Room of Ekaterininsky Palace, a chamber full of gold, was a masterpiece of Baroque art made entirely of amber. It was an extravagant gift given to Czar Peter the Great of Russia in 1716 by Frederick Wilhelm 1 of Prussia. The Czar was enthralled with its opulence and it established a lavish gesture of friendship between Russia and Germany, until the Nazi invasion of Russia when the entire room mysteriously vanished.

If a treasure indeed exists, it would be of tremendous magnitude. Hitler made treasure looting among his Nazi Generals a competition for loyalty and a test of proficiency at getting the best art pieces. Treasure hunters say the hoard belongs to Germany but that anything from the Amber Room should be returned to Russia. This will definitely raise several claims from the heirs of the original owners of other art pieces. It could bury the treasure in a bigger mountain of court cases. How the hunters and the German government will dig out of that would be a different kind of expedition; costlier, full of painful memories and animosities, and certainly a lot less exhilarating.



Kim said...

what an amazing story Durano....and it would be wonderful if the work is discovered and could be viewed as a universal gift for all...
ahhh perhaps in a perfect world....
I suppose one can live in hope :)

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

Vladimir Putin will certainly demand the return of anything that is part of the Amber Room, although the palace of Catherine the Great where it once was has been restored. It took several decades but it will be completed in time for the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg. They intend to open it for tourists and visitors.

But nothing is like the original. If it is found, I wonder what they will do with it or the restored one. I'm certain Putin will showcase the original too to the world, to instill among Russians their glorious past, and why they should reclaim their world power status.

Speaking of Art, I have a story for you:

A thief planned to steal some paintings from the Louvre'.After careful planning,he got past security, stole some paintings and made it to his van.

However, he was captured only two blocks away when he ran out of gas. When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make a silly error, he replied:

"Monsieur, that was the reason I stole the paintings. I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh".

I don't know if you have De Gaulle to send this story to someone else. I sent it to you because I figured I had nothing Toulouse. :-) -- Durano, done!

Tapline said...

Brad, I read something about this somewhere a short time ago....hope they find something. its been years searching for the treasure. Stay well...

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Tapline,

Your site has been quiet for a time, been busy?

The sad part about the whole affair is that Hanisch, the guy who provided the coordinates has been fired by the politician-financier, and former partner Haustein. I don't know what they expect to find really, but Hanisch said he never made any statement about the Amber Room, only Haustein was the one hyping about it.

There may be some treasures there but I smell a political stink about to explode. Thanks for the visit Tap. --Durano, done!

Kim said...

ROFL Durano...
I love it !!!
very very funny and so clever...
I am going to print this out and send to my artists friends over here :D

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

It's right up your alley and I didn't think twice about sending it to you.

I had a good laugh too. :-)--Durano, done!