WORLD WAR II
‘Monuments Men’ kept treasures in good handsLittle-known ‘Monuments Men’ hunted art treasures stolen by the Nazis during World War II. They also identified and catalogued works of art and cultural artifacts.
BY MARIA RECIO
McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON – It was the greatest art theft in history. It was also the greatest rescue.

The looting of Europe’s public and private collections by the Nazis beginning in the 1930s propelled a small army of art experts under the auspices of U.S. forces to launch a search and rescue of works of art that had been stored in salt mines, caves and castles to protect them from the ravages of war.

The ”Monuments Men,” as they were known, tracked down, identified and catalogued millions of works of art and cultural artifacts by such masters as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Vermeer, for the purpose of returning them to their owners. They also identified historical and cultural sites to prevent Allied forces from bombing them.

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