January 14, 2014

The Monuments Men

I originally posted this on Sept 3, 2009. I see that the book is about to hit the big screen with some big talent. Can't wait. It really IS time I read the book. I've had it on my bedside table for 3 years!





Now here’s a book I have to read.

Here's the true story of the Monuments Men (and women).

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M Edsel.

The “Monuments Men” were a group of approximately 345 men and women from thirteen Allied nations who comprised the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section during World War II. Founded in 1943 this group of Allies was established to assist in the protection and restitution of cultural property in war areas during and following World War II. As the war came to a close, they worked to locate and return works of art and other items of cultural importance which had been stolen by the Nazis.

Countless monuments, churches, and works of art were saved or protected by the dedicated personnel of the MFAA section. Frequently entering liberated towns ahead of ground troops, Monuments Men worked quickly to assess damage and make temporary repairs to paintings, frescoes, sculpture and statuary, before moving on through conquered Nazi territory with the Allied Armies.

In the last year of the war, they tracked, located, and returned more than 5 million artistic and cultural items stolen by Hitler and the Nazis.

Many of the groups personnel were museum directors, curators, art historians, and educators and went on to have prolific careers in institutions such as the National Gallery of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as in museums and other institutions in Europe.

Beginning in late March 1945, Allied forces began discovering hidden repositories in what would become the “greatest treasure hunt in history.” In Germany alone, U.S forces found approximately 1,500 repositories of art and cultural objects. While many of these caches of priceless treasures had been looted by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, others had been legitimately evacuated from German museums for safekeeping. Monuments Men oversaw the safeguarding, cataloguing and removal of all works from these repositories, regardless of their origin. The Monuments Men remained in Europe for up to six years following the conclusion of the War to oversee the complicated restitution of stolen works of art.

Here are some examples of what they found (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Berchtesgaden, Germany: The 101st Airborne Division, known as the “Screaming Eagles,” found more than 1,000 paintings and sculptures stolen by German Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring. The cache had been evacuated from his country estate, Carinhall, and moved to Berchtesgaden in April 1945 to protect it from the invading Russians.

Bernterode, Germany: Americans found four coffins containing the remains of Germany’s greatest leaders, including those of Frederick the Great (Frederick II of Prussia) and Field Marshal Paul Von Hindenburg. Also found in the mine were 271 paintings, including court portraits from the Palace of Sanssouci in Potsdam, which had been hidden behind a locked door and a brick wall nearly five feet thick. The site was originally used as an ammunition and military supply complex manned by hundreds of slave laborers.

Merkers, Germany: The Kaiserode mine at Merkers was discovered by the U.S. 3rd Army under General George S. Patton in April 1945. Reichsbank gold, along with 400 paintings from the Berlin museums and numerous other crates of treasures were also discovered. More dismal discoveries included gold and personal belongings from Nazi concentration camp victims.

Neuschwanstein Castle: Over 6,000 items including ERR (Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, Alfred Rosenberg’s task force organized for the “legalized” looting of Jews) documents, furniture, jewelry, paintings and other belongings stolen by the ERR from private collectors in France were found here. Monuments Man Capt. James Rorimer oversaw the repository’s evacuation.

Altaussee, Austria: This extensive complex of salt mines served as a huge repository for art stolen by the Nazis, but it also contained holdings from Austrian collections. More than 6,500 paintings alone were discovered at Alt Aussee. The contents included: Belgian-owned treasures such as Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges stolen from the Church of Our Lady in Bruges, and Jan van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece stolen from Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent; Vermeer’s The Astronomer and The Artist’s Studio which were to be focal points of Hitler’s Führer Museum in Linz, Austria; and paintings from the Capodimonte Museum in Naples that had been stolen by the Hermann Göring Tank Division (Fallschirm-Panzer Division 1 Hermann Göring) at Monte Cassino.

San Leonardo, Italy: In the jail cell of this very northern town, Allied officials discovered paintings from the Uffizi that had been hurriedly unloaded by retreating German troops. Among the masterpieces were paintings by Sandro Botticelli, Filippo Lippi and Giovanni Bellini.

There’s a John Frankenheimer movie starring Burt Lancaster movie called The Train in which a German colonel loads a train with French art treasures to send to Germany. The Resistance (mainly Lancaster) must stop it without damaging the cargo. It’s pretty thrilling and different from the usual war movies made in the 60s.

Speaking of 60s war movies, the clip above promoting Robert M. Edsel’s book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, features the rousing theme music from the film Where Eagles Dare. A real eye-opener, I must say, first thing in the morning.

Here's more information about the Monuments Men
http://www.monumentsmenfoundation.org/about/

Where I sit and write right now, a few blocks north of Lake Ontario, I am enduring Toronto’s annual air show. It sounds as if we are under attack. Mon Dieu!

January 10, 2014

Nose, Nose, No!

 

"The next time I write I’ll send you my portrait; I had it taken last Sunday". 
Letter from Theo to Vincent, January 1873. Letter # 3 of the Letters of Vincent Van Gogh*  

 
Notice the nose. This studio portrait of Vincent Van Gogh
was taken by the photographer J.M.W de Louw in January of 1873.

 
Notice the nose. This is a photo of Vincent when he was about 13


 
Notice the nose. This is the photo that Joseph Buberger
promotes as being Van Gogh
despite the fact that it was taken in Quebec, Canada
 
 
Notice the nose. This self-portrait, painted in Paris early 1888
was, according to Van Gogh's sister-in-law Jo Bonger
"of all his self-portraits, the one with the most likeness"
Denvir, Bernard, Vincent, A Complete Portrait, Running Press, Philadelphia, 1994
 
 
One of these things is not like the other. The real photos of Van Gogh and the accurate self-portrait show Van Gogh with a soft nose with a slightly bulbous tip. The mystery man in the Buberger portrait has a sharp nose and more angular nostrils. Just more evidence that the Victor Morin studio portrait is not Vincent Van Gogh. 
 
 
 *http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let003/letter.html 


January 7, 2014

NO NO NO This is not Van Gogh.


"I myself still find photographs frightful and don’t like to have any, especially not of people whom I know and love." 
Vincent Van Gogh, to his sister Willemien, September 19, 1889.*

 Hold everything. There's something WRONG on the internet! Since I first posted this deflating article 4 years ago, this erroneous photo has shown up everywhere on the web as being a genuine photograph of Vincent Van Gogh, even Wikipedia. What is the world coming to?! In a nutshell, the photographer and the studio indicated on the bottom of this carte-de-visite is located  in SAINT-HYACINTHE, QUEBEC, CANADA. A quick Google tells me there is only one SAINT-HYACINTHE in the world, and it's not in Belgium. The 1901 Canadian Census also indicates that Victor Morin lived in Saint-Hyacinthe and worked as a photographer.




Researchers shouldn't bend the facts to fit their stories. Please pass this on. 
Here's the rest of my post from July 2009. 

While I was trying to find a photo of Van Gogh to accompany another post I happened upon this photo, supposedly of Vincent Van Gogh. It came to light about 5 years ago and was on display at the Seton Gallery at the University of New Haven in an exhibition titled Discovering Vincent van Gogh: A Forensic Study in Identification.

The man in the photograph does bear a striking resemblance to Van Gogh. The information found on the 4 1/2" X 5 1/2", photograph circa 1886, identifies the photographer as Victor Morin, 42 RUE ST. FRANCOIS, ST HYACINTHE.

The photograph was discovered in the early 1990s by a customer flipping through an album of photographs, mostly of clergymen, dating back to the late 19th century at an antique dealer's in Massachusetts. The man who found the picture saw the resemblance to Vincent Van Gogh and took the photograph to a photo historian who had previously worked on identifying images of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant. The expert was convinced it was Vincent, contesting the veracity of earlier known photos of Vincent, believing them to be his brother instead.

Tests were performed on the photograph by a forensic institute also in New Haven. Investigators matched the size of the forehead, the shape of the eyes and even individual hairs.They too believed this to be Van Gogh stating, "Even the most minute detail matched up, even the smallest hairs on the beards matched up,"

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has contested that the picture is the artist. And rightly so.  I’d really like this to be a photo of Vincent Van Gogh – my stomach flipped when I saw it. I love Van Gogh, his letters and his myth. But alas, it’s just wishful thinking. Despite Van Gogh’s hard life, the subject of the photo looks older than the 33 years Vincent would be in the photo. But the quickest Google verifies the photographer Morin as being located in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada. There is no other St. Hyacinthe. Not Belgium like the expert says. You just can't bend the facts. (Ancestry.com backs this up as in 1901 Victor Morin is listed as a photographer on the 1901 Canadian Census)

Considering Vincent van Gogh was hungry enough to eat paint and borrowed money constantly from his brother, I don’t think Vincent came to La Belle Province and had his photo taken.

Thanks to an article at Guardian.co.uk, The Guardian, Tuesday 24 February 2004, David Teather
*http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let804/letter.html

November 24, 2013

Off the Rails Pasta

truccis.com
Off the rails only because it wasn't gluten free. It does make a difference unfortunately. Like most of the things I create in the kitchen this one came off the top of my head. This recipe was SO good I have to write it down for posterity. 

What I needed:. 

Olive oil
Onion
Yellow pepper
Package of prosciutto
Spaghetti
Fat-free sour cream
Chevre
Cream 10%
Pico de Gallo - prepared
Salt
Parmesan

So, I fried half a chopped onion in olive oil for about 12 minutes. Adding 1/2 chopped yellow pepper after 6 minutes. Then I tossed in 1/2 package of prosciutto also chopped into inch-sized pieces. I stirred this about while I started the pasta. 225 grams or 8 ounces of spaghetti was perfect for the amount of sauce. 

Okay, then I added 3 large dessert spoons of zero fat sour cream to the frying pan, one 1/4 inch medallion of chevre, and 1/3 cup cream (10%), and one tablespoon prepared pico de gallo salsa. Then I added a generous pinch of salt. 

I added the spaghetti to the frying pan which was now on low. Stirred the noodles around in the goodness and grated about an inch-sized cube of Parmesan over the top. 

In total this meal took less than 25 minutes to prepare. It was amazing. 

I didn't photograph the event. But the above photo from Truccis.com hints at the idea. 

October 30, 2013

The Fallen 9,000


9,000 Fallen Soldiers Etched into the Sand on Normandy Beach to Commemorate Peace Day WWII war sand Normandy installation

9,000 Fallen Soldiers Etched into the Sand on Normandy Beach to Commemorate Peace Day WWII war sand Normandy installation
9,000 Fallen Soldiers Etched into the Sand on Normandy Beach to Commemorate Peace Day WWII war sand Normandy installation
9,000 Fallen Soldiers Etched into the Sand on Normandy Beach to Commemorate Peace Day WWII war sand Normandy installation
9,000 Fallen Soldiers Etched into the Sand on Normandy Beach to Commemorate Peace Day WWII war sand Normandy installation
9,000 Fallen Soldiers Etched into the Sand on Normandy Beach to Commemorate Peace Day WWII war sand Normandy installation
9,000 Fallen Soldiers Etched into the Sand on Normandy Beach to Commemorate Peace Day WWII war sand Normandy installation
9,000 Fallen Soldiers Etched into the Sand on Normandy Beach to Commemorate Peace Day WWII war sand Normandy installation
9,000 Fallen Soldiers Etched into the Sand on Normandy Beach to Commemorate Peace Day WWII war sand Normandy installation
9,000 Fallen Soldiers Etched into the Sand on Normandy Beach to Commemorate Peace Day WWII war sand Normandy installation
On September 25, 2013, British artists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss accompanied by numerous volunteers, took to the beaches of Normandy with rakes and stencils in hand to etch 9,000 silhouettes representing fallen people into the sand. Titled The Fallen 9000, the piece is meant as a stark visual reminder of the civilians, Germans and allied forces who died during the D-Day beach landings at Arromanches on June 6th, 1944 during WWII. The original team consisted of 60 volunteers, but as word spread nearly 500 additional local residents arrived to help with the temporary installation that lasted only a few hours before being washed away by the tide. (via Lustik and thisiscolossal.com)