The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter XIV
The Plunder of Art Treasures
Einsatz Rosenberg
(Part 2 of 3)

D. Cooperation of Hermann Goering.

On November 1940, Goering issued an order specifying the distribution to be made of art objects brought to the Louvre. This order lists as second in priority of disposition, "Those art objects

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which serve to the completion of the Reichsmarshal's collection" and states that the objects will "be packed and shipped to Germany with the assistance of the Luftwaffe." (141-PS)

On 1 May 1941 Goering issued an order to all Party, State, and Wehrmacht Services requesting them:

"*** to give all possible support and assistance to the Chief of Staff of Reichsleiter Rosenberg's Staff, Reichshauptstellenleiter Party Comrade Utikal, and his deputy DRK -- Feldfuehrer Party Comrade von Behr, in the discharge of their duties. The above-mentioned persons are requested to report to me on their work, particularly on any difficulties that might arise." (1117-PS)

On 30 May 1942, Goering claimed credit for the success of the Einsatzstab:

"*** On the other hand I also support personally the work of your Einsatzstab wherever I can do so, and a great part of the seized cultural goods can be accounted for because I was able to assist the Einsatzstab by my organizations." (1015-I-PS)

E. Method of Operation.

The staff of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg seized not only "abandoned" art treasures but also treasures which had been hidden, or were left in the custody of depots or warehouses, including art treasures that were already packed for shipment to America. (1015-B-PS)

Robert Scholz, Chief of the Special Staff for Pictorial Art, described the thoroughness with which the Einsatzstab conducted investigations and seizures:

"*** These seizures were carried out on the basis of preliminary exhaustive investigations into the address lists of the French Police authorities, on the basis of Jewish handbooks, warehouse inventories and order books of French shipping firms as well as on the basis of French art and collection catalogs.

"*** The seizure of ownerless Jewish works of art has gradually extended over the whole French territory." (1015-B-PS)

In the East, members of Rosenberg's staff operated directly behind the front in close cooperation with the infantry. (035-PS)

Von Behr, in a progress report dated 8 August 1944, described the method of seizing household furnishings:

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"The confiscation of Jewish homes was effected in most cases in such a way that the so-called confiscation officials from house to house when no records were available of addresses of Jews who had departed or fled, as was the case for example, in Paris *** They drew up inventories of these homes and subsequently sealed them.........

"The goods are dispatched first, to large collecting camps from where they are turned over, sorted out and loaded for Germany.

"*** work shops were established for cabinet-makers, watchmakers, shoemakers, electricians, radio experts, furriers, etc. All incoming goods were diligently sorted out and those not ready for use were repaired. Moreover special boxes were dispatched for the use of special trades *** "For the sorting out of the confiscated furniture and goods on the invisible assembly line and for the packing and loading, exclusive use was made of interned Jews. Because of its experience as to confiscation, as to working systems within the camps, and as to transportation, the Office West was able to reorganize their entire working system and thus to succeed in providing for the use in Germany of even things,which appeared to be valueless such as scrap paper, rags, salvage, etc. ***" (L-188).

F. Nature, Extent, and Value of Property Seized.

(1) Books, manuscripts, documents, and incunabula. A report on the library of the "Hohe Schule," prepared by Dr. Wunder, lists the most significant book collections belonging to the library and confiscated by the Einsatzstab Rosenberg in accordance with the orders of the Fuehrer, as follows (171-PS):


Alliance Israelite Universelle 40,000 Vols. Ecole Rabbinique 10,000 Vols. Federation de Societe des Juifs de France 4,000 Vols. Lipschuetz Bookstore, Paris 20,000 Vols. Rothschild Family, Paris 28,000 Vols. Rosenthaliana, Amsterdam 20,000 Vols. Sefardischen Jewish Community, Amsterdam 25,000 vols. Occupied Eastern Territories 280,000 Vols. Jewish Community, Greece 10,000 Vols. "Special Action", Rhineland 5,000 Vols. Other sources 100,000 Vols. ------------- 552,000

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An undated report on the activities of the Einsatzstab Working Group, Netherlands, lists Masonic Lodges and other organizations whose libraries and archives have been seized. The report states that 470 cases of books had already been packed and reports materials seized from 92 separate lodges- of the "Droit Humain", the "Groot Oosten", the "IOOF" and the "Rotary Club". An additional 776 cases containing approximately 160,000 volumes were seized from the International Institute for Social History at Amsterdam. An additional 170 cases were seized from the "Theosophischen Society" and other organizations. (176-PS)

The report further states that the value of the above works is between 30 million and 40 million Reichsmarks. Additional materials to be derived from other sources, including 100,000 volumes from the "Rosenthaliana" collection, are estimated to have a value of three times that of the above, or an additional 90 million to 120 million Reichsmarks. The estimated over-all value is thus between 120 and 160 million Reichsmarks. (176-PS)

(2) Household furnishings. The entire furniture seizure action, known as "Action M", is summarized in a report of Von Behr, Chief of the Office West, dated 8 August 1944. The report furnishes the following statistics on results up to 1 July 1944:

Jewish homes confiscated                                   71,619
Loading capacity required -                      cu. ms 1,079,373
Railroad cars required                                     26,984
Foreign currency and securities confiscated         RM 11,695,516
Scrap metal, scrap paper, and textiles dispatched kgms  3,191,352

The report goes on to list in detail the number of boxes of miscellaneous items seized, including china (199 boxes), curtains (72 boxes), coat hangers (120 boxes), toys (99 boxes), bottles (730 boxes), etc. The report concludes with an itemized statement of the number of wagons dispatched to various cities throughout Germany, to German camps, to SS Divisions, the German State Railways, the Postal Service, and the Police. (L-188)

(3) Works of Art (East). With reference to the work of the Einsatzstab in the Eastern Territories, Robert Scholz reported as follows:

"In the course of the evacuation of the territory several hundred most valuable Russian ikons, several hundred Russian

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paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries, individual articles of furniture and furniture from castles were saved in cooperation with the individual Army Groups, and brought to a shelter in the Reich." (1015-B-PS)

In August 1943, just prior to the loss of Charcow by the Germans, 300 paintings of West European masters and Ukrainian painters, and 25 valuable Ukrainian carpets, mostly from the Charcow museum, were packed and shipped by the Einsatzstab. (707-PS)

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