Decades After a U.S. Soldier Took Them Home as a Souvenir, Long-Lost Artworks Return to Poland With the Help of the Monuments Men
The drawings had been looted from the National Museum of Warsaw and taken to Fischhorn Castle in Austria.
Two works on paper by artist Adolf Kozarski, lost in the aftermath of World War II, have been returned to Poland by the family of the soldier who took them as a souvenir, thanks to the efforts of the Monuments Men Foundation. The works were handed over during a ceremony in New York last week and were officially received in Warsaw on Monday, November 8.
The Kozarski drawings, part of a series depicting small Polish towns and villages, were stolen by the Nazis along with many other works from the National Museum of Warsaw, during the 1944 defeat of the Warsaw Uprising. The Polish art was taken to Fischhorn Castle in Austria, an SS horse training grounds and outpost of the Dachau concentration camp, overseen by Adolf Hitler’s brother-in-law, SS General Hermann Fegelein. In the final days of the war, after Nazi leader Hermann Göring was captured in the castle by American forces, the works were smuggled away by a US army officer.
The Monuments Men were an international task force of officers and scholars responsible for tracking down and restituting stolen art works and cultural artifacts in the aftermath of World War II. In 1945, Lieutenant Fred Hartt of the Monuments Men and Polish artist Bohdan Urbanowicz did their best to log and track the works taken from Fischhorn Castle and the following year they returned 12 carriages of work to Poland.
Years later, after the unnamed US serviceman who took the Kozarski drawings had died, his daughter contacted the Monuments Men Foundation, which was started in 2007 to recognize the legacy of the organization, through books, exhibitions and a movie staring George Clooney. The foundation helped her repatriate the two missing works.
“Our father was proud of his military service in Europe during World War II,” the family said in a statement. “It would make him very happy to know that because of the dedicated work of the Monuments Men Foundation, these two works of art that he brought home as souvenirs are now being returned to their rightful owner.”
The family added that they hoped “other veterans and their family members who possess similar objects will contact the Foundation and follow his lead.”
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