Found: Nazi Records of Hitler’s Looted Art

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Bavaria, Germany, 'Berghof' (Haus Wachenfeld), Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's chalet on the slopes of the Obersalzburg mountains where two American soldiers picked up two volumes of the F├╝hrer's art catalogue.

The Nazis were terrifyingly organized in their plunder of a continent. Now, newly-discovered records kept by Hitler’s forces may help recover some of the art they stole from Europe’s museums and private collections.

On Tuesday, the National Archives unveiled two albums of Hitler’s meticulous catalogue of looted art, which may number as many as 100 volumes. The two leather-bound books (Albums 7 and 15) had been in the possession of the families of two American soldiers, who picked them up from Hitler’s home in the Alps in the final days of World War II as souvenirs. The families of Cpl. Albert Lorenzett and Pfc. Yerke Zane Larson didn’t realize their import until they contacted the Monuments Men Foundation, which has worked to help recover art looted during the war.

On Tuesday, the albums were donated to the National Archives. They contain thousands of pictures of artwork and furniture, each accompanied by a serial number which may give clues to the family or museum the item was taken from. The catalogue was compiled by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, an agency set up by Hitler to keep track of his plundered art. Hitler hoped eventually to establish his own sprawling museum complex in Linz, Austria called the “F├╝hrermuseum.”

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