Art Stolen, Art Rescued
Rape of Europa
Historical Timeline

Experience the historical events that comprise this fascinating story. Click on the year below to display the corresponding details and events that took place during that timeframe.


January 30
1933 - Hitler comes to power Hitler and Nazi Party come to power in Germany

1935 - Nuremberg laws enacted

Nuremberg laws (anti-Semitic regulations) enacted

Year - 1937

July 1
Degenerate Art Exhibition “Degenerate Art” exhibition, Munich.
Across Europe, museums start to prepare a plan for the protection of works of art in the event of war with Germany. Lists of important works in the museums are made. The castles, churches and abbeys, usable as deposits, are located and evacuation routes are fixed.

Year - 1938

Britain develops plans for museum evacuations.
Franz Hofmann, president of the Committee for Confiscation in the German museums, declares the museums “purified.” Almost sixteen thousand works were withdrawn.

March 13
German annexation of Austria Anschluss, or German annexation of Austria

Formation of a Commission for the Exploitation of Confiscated Works i.e. "degenerate art." Alfred Rosenberg, Robert Scholz, Adolf Ziegler, Heinrich Hofmann, Karl Haberstock are involved.

November 9
Kristallnacht - Night of Broken Glass Kristallnacht, “Night of Broken Glass” in all Germany: Jewish houses, synagogues and businesses are burned at the directive of the Nazis

Year - 1939

March 10
Invasion of Czechoslovakia

June 6
Hitler appoints Dr. Hans Posse Hitler appoints Dr. Hans Posse, director of the museum of Dresden, and also head of acquisitions (by purchases or seizures) for the future museum of Linz.

June 30
Fischer Sale Fischer Sale, Lucerne, of purged, “degenerate” art from German institutions
September 1
Invasion of Poland; start of WWII

September 3
Great Britain and France declare war on Germany.

Louvre masterpieces stored in castle at Chambord Louvre masterpieces stored in castle at Chambord

Year - 1940

Britain develops plans for museum evacuations.
Florentine Collections moved to Tuscan countryside

Mühlmann Catalogue Created Mühlmann Catalogue Created

April 9
Germany invades Norway and Denmark

May 10
Invasion of France
Invasion of Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg; Churchill becomes prime minister of England

May 11
Creation of Kunstschutz, the commission for the protection of works of art of the Wehrmacht (the German Army)

June 14
Occupation of Paris by the Germans

June 22
The French and German authorities sign the Armistice in Rethondes

ERR established in Paris.

July 10
Anschluss Battle of Britain Begins

Joseph Goebbels asks Dr. Kümmel, General Director of the Reich National Museums, to draw up a list of the works of art and invaluable objects of German origin in the occupied countries

October 28
Italy invades Greece

October 30
More than 400 cases of seized works, accumulated in the Louvre or still in the German embassy, are transferred to the Jeu de Paume, which becomes the principal repository of the works seized by the ERR.

November 3-5
First visit of Hermann Göring to the Jeu de Paume First visit of Hermann Göring to the Jeu de Paume. A selection of seized works is exhibited. Göring chooses 27 for his collection. He will return to the Jeu de Paume several times.

Year - 1941

June 22
Invasion of USSR- Operation Barbarosa

July 1
Hermitage Evacuated

August 12
National Gallery works moved into Manod Quarry National Gallery works moved into Manod Quarry

August 20
900 day Siege of Leningrad begins

December 7
Pearl Harbor attacked

Year - 1942

Gassing at Auschwitz begins

July 29
The Germans seize the polyptych of the Mystical Lamb by the brothers Hubert and Jan Van Eyck

Berlin Flak-Towers completed Berlin Flak-Towers completed, museum collections stored here

Year - 1943

February 2
German forces surrender at Stalingrad

March 15
After the death of Hans Posse, Hitler names Hermann Voss as the director of the museum at Wiesbaben, with also the directorship of Linz.

April 19
Warsaw Ghetto uprising

Creation Roberts Commission Creation in the United States of the Roberts Commission (American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas). The commission includes MFAA Officers (Monuments, Fine Arts and Officers Files) charged to assist the forces on the ground in the recovery of works of art.

July 25
Mussolini arrested Mussolini arrested; fall of Italian government

October 13
New Italian Government declares war on Germany

Year - 1944

Works for Linz are hidden in the Austrian salt mines of Alt Aussee; Germans transfer artworks throughout Italy while trying to remove them to Germany

February 15
U.S. bombers destroy Monte Cassino U.S. bombers destroy Monte Cassino

June 6
Allied invasion of Normandy

The Parisian center of the ERR is closed by the Germans. The last report of the ERR, written in Berlin, lists from France: 203 seized collections and 21,903 confiscated art works.

August 3
Florentine bridges destroyed Florentine bridges destroyed

August 19
Uprising of Paris

August 22
Hitler's order to General von Choltitz to destroy Paris is not carried out

August 25
Liberation of Paris; Liberation of Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg

End of November
Establishment, within the O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Service), of a unit for the survey of the plundering of art works, comprised of art historians advised by the Roberts Commission.

October 21
Aachen falls to the Allies- First major German city to surrender

December 26
General Patton marches the 3rd Army to relieve the 101st during the Battle of the Bulge

Year - 1945

Göring destroys his country home Göring destroys his country home of Carinhall. A number of works from his collection are transported in special trains, and arrive at Berchtesgaden and Unterstein in April.

January 26
Red Army liberates Auschwitz

February 4-11
During the Yalta Conference, Germany is divided in four zones of occupation (the United States, Great Britain, France, USSR)

Berlin artworks evacuated to mines

April 7
Merkers mine discovered

April 12
Franklin D. Roosevelt Dies

April 16
Red Army assault on Berlin

April 25
Declaration of the United Nations

April 28
Mussolini executed
Neuschwanstein repository discovered

April 30
Hitler Commits Suicide

May 4
The American army finds Göring's collection The American army finds Göring's collection at Berchtesgaden.

May 7
Germany surrenders to the Allies
Friedrichshain Flak-tower burns, destroying some 500 paintings

May 8
VE (Victory in Europe) Day
The works intended for Linz are found by the American army in the Austrian mines of Alt Aussee.

May 20
An order from S.H.A.E.F establishes in Germany collecting points where the works of art located by the army will be gathered. The main "collecting point" will be installed in Munich.

Art returned to Florence

June 22
Wiesbaden Collecting Point established

July 17
Proposal of “202”

August 14
Japan Surrenders, End of World War II

August 15
VJ day

September 3
Official restitution of the Van Eyck Ghent Altarpiece to Belgium Official restitution of the Van Eyck Ghent Altarpiece to Belgium: it is the first restitution of a work to its country of origin.

November 20
First hearing of the Nuremberg proceedings (trials, lawsuits).

Year - 1946

October 16
Göring commits suicide

Year - 1948

December 31
A decree puts an end to the activity of the Artistic Commission of Recovery and entrusts the management of the current and future cases to the Office of Private Goods and Interests.

Year - 1951

Closing of Munich Collecting Point


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