The Rape of Europa
This fascinating 2006 documentary chronicles the same story told in Lynne Nicholas' 1994 best seller The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War, in so doing reminding us how difficult it is to comprehend fully the extent and scope of the Nazis' absurd enterprise-and how little generations born since then know about the era. Brisk, insightful, and, at times, flat-out overwhelming, The Rape of Europa looks at the Nazi conquest of Europe as a full-scale cultural attack with hopes of 1) taking possession of the acceptable great art treasures of Europe for either officers' homes (Hermann Göring is portrayed as an almost Falstaffian figure who wants to acquire the markings of culture and sophistication entirely unknown to him) or Hitler's grand plans for a Führer Museum in his Linz hometown, and 2) wiping everything else off the face of the planet. In a taut, crisp pace that methodologically follows the Nazis' move from Vienna to Poland to France, Italy, and the Soviet Union, Rape shows how the invading army orchestrated this pillaging, notes how many museum staffs tried the best they could to hide works-even if you've never seen it, a photograph of the mammoth, B.C.-dated Winged Victory gingerly being taken down the Louvre's grand-entry staircase is enough to stop the heart-touches on the brave people who did their best to prevent it, and checks in with the Allied officers in charge of trying to prevent further destruction during wartime and locating stolen goods in the war's immediate wake. Like the book, absolutely worthwhile.