US/World News

Diary of WWII’s Monuments Man given to National Archives

(JTA) – The diary of a Monuments Man – part of a special Allied Forces military unit established during World War II to protect Europe’s historic treasures – was given to the National Archives. S. Lane Faison Jr. was a prominent art historian who identified Nazi-looted art and wrote the Office of Strategic Services’ report on Adolf Hitler’s collection of stolen art. His diary from 1950-51 handed over April 29 to the archives joins the collection of the so-called Hitler Albums of looted art also donated by the Monuments Men Foundation. After the war he was called back to serve as director of the Munich Central Collecting Point, overseeing the return of looted cultural property to their countries of origin.

The Monuments Men was established in 1943. The group of some 345 men and women rescued more than five million pieces of Nazi-looted art. Their story was made into a fictionalized 2014 film “The Monuments Men,” starring George Clooney and Matt Damon, based on a book by Robert Edsel. 

Faison was responsible for investigating the Hitler Albums, which documented the systematic looting of European art by the Nazis, as part of the prosecution for the Nuremberg Trials, according to the Monuments Men Foundation. He was among other Monuments Men in Austria who interrogated Nazi officials and collaborators to locate looted art. After the war, Faison returned to Williams College, where he continued to chair its art department and served as director of the Massachusetts school’s Museum of Art. He died in 2006.

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