In spite of the painstaking work of the Monuments Men, their mission is still far from complete nearly 70 years after the fall of Nazi Germany. Bombing had destroyed museums, galleries, and moreover, the rightful owners of these historic pieces. Nearly 350 men and women from 13 countries joined the unit known as the “Monuments Men.” Mostly volunteers, they were hardly seasoned soldiers; instead, they were an unlikely platoon of museum curators, art scholars, architects, archivists, artists and historians with an average age of 40. Despite the work of the Monuments Men through the end of the war, there are still thousands of priceless pieces missing today. And the ones he got often broke down. Photographs From the Last Quiet Places on Earth. They were all pillaged from city museums, public galleries, and private collections. Their courageous efforts were celebrated in the 2014 film, Monuments Men, which depicted how this ragtag crew of academics managed to salvage masterpieces held hostage by the Nazis. In her book, Nicholas says Stout, during just more than a year in Europe, had taken one and a half days off. Harry Ettlinger said during an interview for the 2007 documentary adaptation of the book Rape Of Europa. Kirstein and Posey were two members of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section of the Allies, a small corps of mostly middle-aged men and a few women who interrupted careers as historians, architects, museum curators and professors to mitigate combat damage. George Stout (third from left) poses with other members of the Allied art rescue unit. They summoned the only Monuments Man for the job, George Stout, who had pioneered new techniques of art conservation before the war working at Harvard's Fogg Museum. Find out more about the unlikely World War II heroes who saved Europe’s art treasures. James J. Rorimer/Archives of American ArtMembers of the special task force transporting rescued art. Among the group’s most notable members was Rose Valland, an art curator and the only member of the staff at the Parisian Jeu de Paume museum that the Nazis kept on after they took it over. On July 19, he reported that 80 truckloads, 1,850 paintings, 1,441 cases of paintings and sculpture, 11 sculptures, 30 pieces of furniture and 34 large packages of textiles had been removed from the mine. And it rained. But after Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts rejected a teenaged Hitler for his “unfitness for painting,” his singular dream of becoming an artist was crushed. France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany as the Nazis efficiently plundered every inch of Europe. This was the first time in history that a brigade was arranged with the specific aim to protect the world’s art. 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. Hitler’s forces plundered priceless paintings, sculptures, drawings, religious relics and cultural artifacts from Europe’s churches, universities and private collections, particularly those belonging to Jewish families. By 1941, the continent was largely under the control of Germany and its allies Italy and Japan. When the Monuments Men entered the Altaussee Salt Mine in Austria, they discovered hidden inside its 137 tunnels more than 6,000 paintings as well as masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s “Madonna of Bruges” and the “Ghent Altarpiece.” It took six weeks for them to empty Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle, the fairy-tale structure that served as the model for Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland, of all its hidden treasures that had been plundered from France. Nicknamed the Monuments Men, the unit was responsible for protecting cultural relics like churches and museums, assessing damaged art inside demolished cities, and initiating restoration projects. They were art curators, collectors, academics, and historians who committed their lives to the recovery of Europe’s artwork — two of them were even killed in combat while protecting artwork. Can Scientists Stop the Plague of the Spotted Lanternfly? The son-in-law told them the location of Goering's collection as well as Hitler's stash at Altaussee. Stout also noted that there were plans for the demolition of the mine. The Nazis did not hesitate to loot and steal them. They pilfered works by a palette of the world’s greatest masters such as Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Picasso and da Vinci. Stout had been crossing France, Germany and Belgium recovering works, often traveling in a Volkswagen captured from the Germans. Artifacts stolen by the Nazis discovered in the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. Their work continued through 1951, by which time they had rescued, preserved and returned five million pieces of art and other cultural artifacts to their rightful owners. The film takes a number of artistic liberties, however. Before he became the tyrannical leader of Germany, Adolf Hitler was an aspiring artist. Limestone bust of Queen Nefertiti, stashed away in a German salt mine before it’s recovery by the Monuments Men. Hitler’s interest in art, however, never waned, and after launching World War II, he led the Nazis in the systematic looting of famous works of art that formed the cultural soul of Western civilization. Within weeks, the full extent of the Nazi plunder crystallized. Frustrated, the World War I veteran enlisted in the Navy and developed aircraft camouflage techniques until transferred to a small corps of 17 Monuments Men in December 1944. Early in the war, Stout (given the name Frank Stokes as played by George Clooney in the film) unsuccessfully campaigned for the creation of a group like the Monuments Men with both American and British authorities.