By Sean Graham
Adolf Hitler was a well-known lover of art and throughout his time as Chancellor of Germany, oversaw a large-scale program to create one of the largest art collections the world has ever known. Some of these pieces were purchased while others were stolen. But regardless of how they were acquired, they were prized possessions for the Third Reich. Some were on prominent display in places like Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest while a lot of the art was stored in an underground salt mine in Austria.
When the war ended, not everything that was catalogued as part of the collection was found. Certainly some was destroyed, some was in the possession of Nazi officials, and some was taken by Allied soldiers. Over 70 years later, there is still an on-going effort to reclaim these artistic pieces and return them to their rightful place. This effort was chronicled in Robert M. Edsel‘s 2009 book The Monuments Men, which inspired the 2014 film of the same name.
Debuting on Tuesday October 24 at 10 E/P on History Channel, Hunting Nazi Treasure explores how historians are finding these pieces and the painstaking efforts to get them back to their original homes. It’s an eight week investigative documentary series that takes the viewer from Dallas to Germany to Austria and points in between and is definitely worth checking out.
In this episode of the History Slam, I talk with two of the show’s central figures. First, I chat with Robert M. Edsel about The Monuments Men, the Monuments Men Foundation For the Preservation of Art, and the challenges of finding the art’s original home. I then talk with Series Producer Steve Gamester. We discuss the show’s investigative style, the production effort of shooting on location, and the difficulties in telling this story.
Sean Graham is an editor with Activehistory.ca and the host/producer of the History Slam Podcast.