Beautiful Loot: The Soviet Plunder of Europe's Art Treasures

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9780679443896: Beautiful Loot: The Soviet Plunder of Europe's Art Treasures

Written by the two men who revealed the existence of secret depositories of treasures, this book is the dramatic account of the plundering of precious objects during the last terrible days of the Reich, the buffoonish political maneuvering and corruption that kept the art hidden and neglected for years, and the bold detective work that led to its discovery. 16 pages of photos.

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From Library Journal:

As the Soviet armies moved west into Poland during World War II, plans were made for special army brigades to collect "trophy art" from enemy collections in compensation for artworks looted or destroyed by the Germans. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of art and whole libraries were removed in chaotic circumstances, only to disappear into the gulag of Stalinist cultural policy. The very existence of such loot was denied until well into the 1990s. In what could be considered the sequel to Lynn Nicholas's Rape of Europa (LJ 5/1/94), which dealt with Nazi art pillage, a group of Russian art historians and museum workers have pieced together the rough outlines of how this happened, interviewing many of the minor players in the process. Their narrative, while disjointed, therefore has some personal immediacy as recent official acknowledgment of Russian actions and continued contests over ownership and restitution have been made public. There is a beginning and a middle, but no end yet; for all its unevenness and episodic quality, this is still an engrossing tale. Recommended for general collections. [For a book on some of the pillaged art now on view at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, see Albert Kostenevich's Hidden Treasures Revealed, LJ 6/15/95.?Ed.]?Jack Perry Brown, Art Inst. of Chicago Lib.
-?Jack Perry Brown, Art Inst. of Chicago Lib.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

In The Rape of Europa (1994), Lynn Nicholas documented the systematic looting of the art treasures of Europe by the Nazis during World War II. Now we have the flip side, a staggering account of the chaotic and revengeful looting of the art treasures of Germany by the Soviets. Akinsha and Kozlov, two Russian art historians, came across evidence of the Soviets' postwar rampage quite by accident, eventually uncovering the scandalous truth about the hasty theft of "more than two and a half million art objects" from every major city in Germany. These art objects include the infamous Trojan gold excavated by Heinrich Schliemann and priceless works by Durer, Rembrandt, Titian, Raphael, Vermeer, Van Gogh, and many impressionists. Most of these treasures were unceremoniously stashed in "secret museums" within museums, particularly the Hermitage and Pushkin, then all but forgotten until Akinsha and Kozlov courageously went public with the story in 1991. The debate over these "trophies" still rages. This is a compelling, bizarre, sad, and ironic tale that contrasts the best of humankind, its gift for beauty, with the worst, our predilection for violence. Donna Seaman

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Konstantin Akinsha; Grigorii Kozlov
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