Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,
I watched a documentary on Netflix Screaming that I think is excellent. It's The Rape of Europa (2006, Unrated, Available on DVD and Screaming and Amazon).
I knew that the nazis stole works of art during WWII, but I had no idea how extensive the pilfering was. Occasionally, a stolen piece still turns up for sale at an auction house. Some people continue to fight for the return of the art that was stolen from their family.
Hitler's plan was to have a huge museum in his hometown in Austria. He was going to fill it with this art that was taken from museums, cathedrals, and individuals––who, of course, were Jewish.
Hitler didn't like modern art so a Picasso might be destroyed.
Art "collecting" became all the rage among the nazi hierarchy because everybody wanted to be like Big Daddy Hitler.
This outstanding documentary, which earns The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Approval, describes how the nazis stole the art, where they stored it, who "shopped till he dropped" to pick up pieces of art, and then it goes into the story of The Monuments Men. I'll tell you more about them in a minute if you'll just hang on and quit complaining so much.
I would watch The Rape of Europa with any child who's old enough to understand that there was such a time as World War II and that nazis are just one big arschloch.
Right after I watched the documentary, I learned that a movie called The Monuments Men (2014, Rated PG-13, Directed and Starred in by George Clooney) was about to be released on DVD, so I put it in my Netflix queue. The Monuments Men isn't a brilliant movie, but along with the documentary, it's a great way to teach kids something about the war and the importance of culture and history.
The Monuments Men were a real group of art curators, architects, art historians––you know, people like me––who went to Europe to rescue stolen art and to try to protect historic buildings and works of art during battles. One of The Monuments Men who was still alive, at least as of 2005 or so, is interviewed in The Rape of Europa.
It wasn't a big group, but they recovered a lot of stolen art. They weren't the kind of guys who were meant to be soldiers, but they got right in there and worked hard to save the cultural history of the world.
This movie could be better than it is. It's predictable. Clooney tried to insert some humor and some pathos. He didn't really succeed, but I still think you should watch The Monuments Men with your kids. I just watched it two nights ago. If I recall correctly, it has some profanity that didn't make a big impression on me. Anyway, if you don't have children, I don't care if you don't watch The Monuments Men as long as you watch The Rape of Europa.
Clooney is joined by some other big stars, including Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and Cate Blanchett. Oh! and Lord Grantham is in it for a while. I know his name is really Hugh Bonneville, but for the rest of my life I'll think of him as The Earl of Grantham. If I ever see him in person, I'll probably drop a curtsy and offer him a cup of tea.
Clooney looks kind of silly because he's made to appear older than he is. I suspect it was done so he'd seem more distinguished and more of an intellectual. Dumb idea. Gorgeous George shouldn't look like anyone other than himself.
The Monuments Men earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval (with misgivings).
Infinities of love,