The Rape of Europa (2006) Poster

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10/10
A must-see for art or WWII historians as well as those simply interested.
emperornorton95 June 2007
The Rape of Europa is a slick, well shot, well directed, interesting, highly informative and still entertaining documentary from the directorial triumvirate of Bonni Cohen, Nicole Newnham and Richard Berge. The documentary uses the book by Lynn H. Nicholas of the same name as a kind of runway for its exploration of the Nazi's systematic plundering of Europe's art. The film incorporates interviews, voice over narration. vintage footage photos and documents that all work cooperatively in making this documentary work in every respect. The film takes its viewers on an in depth journey of the subject through seven European countries, most notably France, Italy, Poland and Germany.

The film sheds light on Hitler's own personal art career, from his rejection of Vienna's art Academy to his plans to amass the world's largest art collection in his ideal city. Interesting and relatively unknown facts are uncovered that relate Hitler's art career to his actions as dictator. Hitler's antisemitism, as one interview subject suggests, was likely fueled by his rejection from Vienna's art Academy as the academy's panel was largely Jewish. Hitler also created a "hit-list" of famous works he wanted for his collection, most of which directly correspond to his invasion of various European countries. Art collecting was a highly important pastime among Nazi officials for a variety of reasons, as discussed largely with Herman Goering and Hitler himself who had amassed enormous, unparalleled personal collections, largely through theft.

Another highly interesting portion of the film shows the perilous and miraculous journey many of these works underwent. As a Nazi invasion loomed, hundreds of people, in France's world famous Louvre for example, gathered and worked tirelessly, packing the priceless art and transferring it to castles throughout the French countryside. The daughter of the man entrusted with the Mona Lisa is interviewed in the film.

The film examines the seventy-year plus struggle to restore and reclaim these stolen masterpieces, many of which remain unaccounted for. The allied position of fighting while simultaneously trying to maintain the hostage art is also discussed in detail, as well as the Allied efforts to return the art after it was repossessed. The film is a must-see for art or WWII historians as well as those simply interested.
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8/10
Monuments Men without the smirk
David Ferguson12 February 2014
Greetings again from the darkness. Watching the 2014 release of The Monuments Men inspired me to re-watch this fascinating documentary on the same subject. Thanks to the interviews of real life Monuments Men like Harry Ettlinger, Kenneth Lindsay, Charles Parkhurst and Bernard Taper, we better understand the overwhelming mission these folks were on, and how even today, some battles wage on over the rightful owners of artwork.

To drive home the point that there is more at stake than just pride, the case of Klimt's "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I" is studied. Adele's niece continued her litigation against Austria until a court finally awarded her the painting (and 3 others). She sold "Adele" for $135 million to a collector. So clearly the cause is not just for mother country. Economics play a huge role. Regardless, the more interesting portion of the story is the relentless pursuit of stolen artwork, artifacts, furniture and collectibles, and the attempts to return them to the rightful owners. That, combined with the devastating architecture destruction brought on by WWII, really make it a bittersweet story.

The breathtaking photographs and archival film footage provide a clear understanding of the breadth of destruction. Seeing the before and after of the Monte Cassino monastery is just crushing. Gaining perspective on the damaged frescoes, some dating to 1360, when Pisa's Camposanto was bombed drives home the significance of culture and history. Seeing the aftermath of the bombing of Florence's iconic bridges brings tears to the eyes. The most impressive piece is that so much of Europe has been rebuilt in the past 7 decades. Maybe that goes to answer the question of whether a human life is worth protecting art. People survive and find a way ... even if Rafael's "Portrait of a Young Man" is still missing.

This is based on the book by the Lynn Nicholas, and the film does a terrific job of presenting how the war impacted Russia, Germany, Italy, France, Austria and Poland. It's also tough to reconcile, as one of the Monuments Men attempts, the idea that the Nazis were so careful with the stolen artwork while simultaneously exterminating so many Jewish people. Maybe things would have been different if a young Adolph Hitler had been accepted to art school.
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9/10
Giving Documentaries a Good Name
Stilba28 July 2007
I have just returned from this film and am another satisfied customer. It always feels a bit strange going to the cinema to see a documentary, but docs always turn out to be so much better and more fulfilling than the blockbusters. A real whirlwind of emotions, the Rape of Europa is something in which everyone living in the western world has a stake. The destructive force of war on human beings and those things which are crucial to our humanity, our art, is put into a perspective that is about as balanced as we can hope to get. Many positive things I would say have already been said, so I will offer one criticism: the city of Dresden, once called the "Florence on the Elbe," was not mentioned in the film. As perhaps the worst bombed city of the war, and a city which had no military value whatsoever but was of incalculable worth culturally, I felt this was a major omission. Of course, the film covered an amazing amount of ground, and the Dresden bombing remains a touchy subject for many, so I can comprehend the constraints of time and the need to avoid charged tangents. However, as someone who has lived in that city (many parts of which remained ruins until only recently), I still would have liked to have heard it mentioned. That said, the film was wonderful on a whole. If only everything they showed in the cinemas were half as good.
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9/10
A very powerful documentary that shows how the movie theater is a social force
zken-118 May 2007
As everyone in America retreats to their suburban mansions and the computer screens, it is a great experience to go out to the movies and see a film of real social import. If you love history and art, like I do, you certainly do not want to miss this film. The brutal effects of Nazi destruction never goes away, it keeps on coming, like a nightmare from the 20th century that we are all dreaming about. This film demonstrates the innate power of art. It shows, through a deep examination of the looting of Europe's treasures, what these works really meant to the countries who had them. And it reveals the utterly strange connection between the life of Hitler, failed art student, and the hellish destruction he unleashed on the world. In this season of filmic dreck at the mall, this strong documentary is definitely worth seeking out.
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7/10
Trying to be fair
ivan-30814 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a good movie and it is biased. It is trying to tie the looting of art to holocaust. That is very wrong. Nazi ideology was wrong, inhumane and evil. Nazis took anything they wanted because they believed they owned Europe. Hitler was not a bad painter; he was against modern art. I have been painting for 39 years and I can assure you he is much better than many artists who are accepted into art schools at the time and today as well as some my students. His art is very much illustrative not lyric in the sense of story telling. In a few of his work that I have seen he has hold perspective and dimension well in place more than I can about a lot of paintings that are in the museums. He loved art and his vision was that he owns Europe and Germans are master race so he is going to take it all and make a very large museum. The reference of Hitler became anti-Semitic because he was rejected at art school is just childish. Hitler became anti-Semitic mainly because he believed Jews are responsible for Germany's defeat in WWI. He formed his Anti-Semitism in later years after his rejection and there is no reference of such in Mein Kampf, (one of the most $%^&ed up books I have ever read in regards to editing and scatter of subject in 4 languages including German). Holocaust was horrible; so was the loss of 23.5 million people of USSR. It also tried to portray USSR soldiers as looters by taking the art back. The efforts of people like Leonid Folinsky, the Soviet artist that discovered the Raphael's Madonna and Rembrandts, Rubens, etc. in salt mines in east Germany area and managed to pull them out of the water is not mentioned other than they were sent to loot for USSR. It ignored the fact that if Nazi's took and destroyed so much of USSR's art then if after the war USSR keeps some of the German art it is just a payment. It almost implies that Hitler's atrocities should be wiped off with the end of Nazi party and Germans should not have to pay any damage into the equation. Obviously every Jewish art dealer descendant (or Holocaust victim) should get all his or her art back. Obviously it helps the fact that as soon as they get it back they can sell it to likely end up in an American museum. . What about the descendants of the art in USSR? While I appreciate the efforts of Americans who did the saving of the artifacts I do not think they were the only ones. Many natives of France, Holland, Austria and other countries helped the underground networks with efforts to save the artifacts and their efforts were downed a little with exception of one. The use of some new footage of the WWII is refreshing. I did not see much reference to the art in Holland or Belgium.

I dislike the title of the movie as "Rape of Europe" as a Nazi "thing". Napoleon did nice job of raping the Europe himself; where do you think all the Italian and Spanish art in Louvers comes from? How about rape of Egypt, Persia, Greece, ... England obviously did not rape India or any of its sub kingdoms! What about rape of Iraq as recent as 2003? 58 years after WWII! I think they were on the level about the bombing of Monte casino but the firebombing of Dresden was played down a lot, considering the loss of the art there.

War is a horrible part of human history and taking booty has always been a part of it. Nazi ideology was wrong, inhumane and evil but taking art works and valuables was not their invention. The part that talks about how they had lists of artwork upfront and before hand due to their "evil" minds... That is just the naive talk of the talker. Germans are born with a list of to do's. Anybody that has spent a little time learning German and their people would know it. Everything is always calculated and documented! They even documented the holocaust themselves with very extreme precise records.
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6/10
Nothing Sells Like Another Film About The Nazis.
imxo3 May 2008
"The Rape of Europa" is a documentary film about the Nazis' concerted, organized, and methodical theft of the art patrimony of Europe during the Second World War, and the film tilts heavily toward the Nazis' theft of art from Jewish collections. Ultimately, this emphasis on the anti-Jewishness of the Nazi program is the film's weakness. While the documentary appears to shine a light on the loathsome Nazis, there is also a detectable anti-German subtext to the film and, in particular, the Austrians come in for muted scorn.

No one can come to the defense of the megalomaniac Adolf Hitler, so why do some people continue to go out of their way to slander him as a "bad artist." Let's be honest here, that disturbed man was without a doubt a better artist/painter than 99.9 percent of all of us reading this IMDb forum. Has anyone ever heard of Winston Churchill being described as a "bad painter?" To slap the "bad artist" tag on Hitler comes across as mere propaganda, and propaganda always casts doubt on the ultimate truth of a work of non-fiction. There is a also a noticeable tone of artistic condescension in this film, especially in interview segments with author Lynn H. Nicholas.

The film touches on the controversy surrounding Gustav Klimt's portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Bloch-Bauer herself wanted the portrait to go to the Austrian State Gallery upon the death of her husband, but when he fled Austria the Nazis apparently confiscated the painting. While the painting did eventually make its way to the Austrian State Gallery after the war, it was decided in the 1990's to remove the painting from the that gallery and award it to Bloch-Bauer's remaining relatives. They subsequently sold this family heirloom for something in the neighborhood of 100 million dollars. So much for honoring Block-Bauer's bequest. One might get the impression that the whole affair was not about truth or justice or rightful ownership, but about money.

This film would be a good primer for those who have heard relatively little about the destruction wrought on Europe and its culture by World War II. However, there must be hundreds of other documentary films that touch on the subject in a better way. I found Joan Allen's narration to be particularly weak, her lightweight voice lacking the authority required in a serious documentary film. She's certainly no Alexander Scourby.

I do not think that anyone anywhere can adequately convey the hell on earth that was the Second World War. This narrowly focused film only confirms that view.
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8/10
War from a view you don't often see.
Mario642 March 2013
The Rape of Europa is a fascinating documentary that tells of the story of the theft, destruction, and in some cases saving of art during World War II. Narrated by Joan Allen the film takes you through the Nazi plundering of paintings in Poland, France and other countries (especially by Nazi art collectors like Hitler and Goering) to the efforts by citizenry to save museum pieces in Paris and Leningrad, to the unfortunate destruction of Renaissance architectural wonders during allied bombings in Italy and the German army demolishing various important Russian structures in the east. It also goes into efforts that are still going on to track down pieces since missing, and tells of the work to give back personal effects to families of Jews, items the Nazis stole without thinking twice from people they considered inhuman.

All this is told with a delicate balancing act, reminding the viewer of the far greater tragedy of the war: the tens of millions of lives lost, most of them civilians. The misfortune of art during the war is not even close to that level of tragedy, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored. Art is part of one's culture and means a lot to great number of people. This is a story that deserves to be told, and though maybe this documentary goes in a few too many directions I found it quite interesting to see this perspective of the War that people rarely talk about.
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Demons eating Soul . . .
jdesando19 March 2008
"There are a hundred thousand men born to live and die who will not be as valuable to the world as one canvas." Sherwood Anderson

The Nazis disposed of more than 6 million Jews; we may never know how many works of art they plundered from the great museums and private residences of Europe, but it's safe to estimate those works in the millions as well. The estimable documentary Rape of Europa gives a sometimes beautiful account of the loss at the hands of Adolph Hitler, a failed artist with a dream of building a world-class monument in his Austrian hometown of Linz, and his sybaritic lieutenant, Hermann Goering.

The atrocities are counterbalanced by the heroic efforts of Europeans and American Monuments Men to save the works, the former spiriting the art away to alpine hideouts and the latter helping allied bombers avoid museums and scrupulously cataloging the returning pieces. The transportation of the fragile Winged Victory from the Louvre to the countryside is more exciting than any modern CGI masterpiece.

Almost as an afterthought, the film shows the incomprehensible destruction of churches and homes whose ancient architectures are cultural museums themselves. I had forgotten the extent of the damage inflicted by both the Germans and the Allies on medieval cities.

In a tone of reverence, a bit like the understatement of Night and Fog, narrator Joan Allen recounts the horror of Nazis carelessly trucking away priceless masterpieces during invasions and bombing bridges and museums vindictively as they retreat. Meanwhile an obscure clerk is heroically marking down the transactions so that 60 years later works can be returned to their rightful owners.

Gustav Klimt's "Gold Portrait of Frau Bloch-Bauer," which opens the documentary, eventually is returned to its rightful owners and later fetches $135 million at auction. Such a transaction is a crass vindication of the atrocities, but such symbolism is all we may have left to remind us, as this documentary so incisively does, that demons roamed the earth stealing the soul out of whole civilizations.
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3/10
A bit hypocritical indeed.
dprezny20 September 2008
I think somebody should make a documentary about the British Museum for starters. Let's count the artifacts there, they have looted. When the Prussians started to push the Germans back they took almost everything from the countries they marched trough. War is brutal and mindless. All war waging countries will loot & destroy. Growing up in eastern Europe I have a bit different opinion about WW2.

I liked the archive footages, they were great. The narrator did a good job, but I liked it more with some real documentary firmness. Anyways, you should see the movie with an opened mind and make the judgment yourself after it.
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Hypocritical Bull Biscuits
Squaredealer333 May 2008
European museums are filled with antiquities from all over the world. Did the Louvre hide those treasures, or were they forgotten by the German Army – or by these film makers in the editing room?

The truth is that "war-booty" is a common European cultural heritage. Change the subject to the art and artifacts of conquests and murders in the past and the debate is very different. The New World Peoples have their religious artifacts strewn throughout European museums. When will they be returned? That's not the subject of the film some would say. Wrong! That's exactly the subject of the film, but we see only the part of the debate the film makers want to show us, as if the German army invented "war-booty," as if European "art" were the only valuables in the subject museums.

Where is the concern about the "plundered" antiquities in Iraq? The film makers look at the past and make no comment about the "plundering" occurring today? These film makers believe the entire world is blind and in doing so show their own blindness. Return all antiquities/art to the countries from which they were removed.
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8/10
An interesting look at lots of great art work
SFfilmgoer27 May 2007
This film tells about the policy of the Nazis toward the art and culture of various countries they occupied.

It tells that Hitler and especially Goring were personally interested in great works of art. They took it from the countries they conquered and from individual art collections. There is also a quick look at some art work done by Hitler himself when he was an art student and aspiring artist.

The picture shows what steps countries took to protect their art work from the Nazis. Museums in France, Russia, Italy and other countries crated and shipped their art work to hiding places, a huge job as statues like Michelangelo's David and the Winged Victory from the Louvre any many others were protected and put into crates.

In the process we get to see a quick peek at some great art work from the Louvre, the Hermitage, Florence,and other places. If you are interested in the history of this time, this is an interesting documentary with some interesting art to see.
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9/10
Are we complicit in all this? Some of us would have been. Civilization depends on those who would not be
Terrell-426 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
How much is a life worth? How much is a great cultural work of art worth? It's impossible to assign a value to either, except to say they both are invaluable. The Rape of Europa is a fine, fascinating documentary about the German plunder of significant art during WWII, organized as meticulously as the Germans organized the murder of millions of human beings. This film illustrates and explains the wholesale looting on a vast scale of easily a fifth of Europe's significant cultural treasures. And where these treasures were considered a part of Jewish or Slavic culture, they were destroyed.

While the Nazi leaders were psychopathic, racist thugs, it's important to remember that their crimes were made possible by all those German men and women, mostly not Nazis, who worked each day at making stealing and killing possible, then returned to their homes to play with their children, eat their braised rabbit, make love to their spouses and then start the next day again. One can't plead ignorance when one is filling a syringe with poison in a mental institution, or attaching explosives to a beautiful Renaissance bridge, or typing an order for more pencils while smelling the near-by crematoriums at work. This is the banality of evil that makes widespread evil possible.

Hitler was fascinated by art. He considered himself an artist of the first rank. As German dictator, he was determined to bring to Germany all the great art of Europe. He had plans for a huge art museum at Linz, his childhood home. He determined what was good art and was not art (modern art was Jewish art, in his view, and should be destroyed). With German thoroughness, his minions drew up of lists of cultural treasures, raided public and private museums in occupied countries, destroyed what they disapproved up, and organized incredible amounts of transport to bring this art into Germany. All the while, taking their cue from Hitler and Goering, Nazi functionaries and German Army officer suddenly became passionate art collectors. All they had to do was take what they wanted. German bureaucrats knew what they were after even as German troops invaded a country. For Slavic countries like Poland, it was a matter more of destroying a culture than taking the art. When German soldiers were at the front in need of clothes, ammunition and supplies, when gasoline was always in short supply, thousands of boxcars were filled with looted art and sent by special trains back to Germany, continuing even as the war was almost over.

When Allied bombing began in earnest and when the invasion of Italy began, it became clear that, while the Allies did not know the extent of German looting, widespread destruction of Europe's cultural heritage by the Allies should be avoided where possible. Thanks to Dwight Eisenhower, a small group of young American artists, curators and art historians were recruited to join the Army and identify and try to preserve what they could as the fighting moved forward. These men, called the monuments men, are the heroes of this story. There were fewer than four hundred of them doing a risky job with few resources and not much clout. They performed incredible feats of preservation, working to save great art and return it from where it was looted. If the first half of The Rape of Europa is shocking, even after so many years have passed, the second half is almost redeeming. For these men, several of whom are interviewed, their work was clearly intensely satisfying. They were saving an essential part of what makes us civilized.

The Rape of Europa covers a great deal of ground, perhaps too much, but it all is fascinating. Probably separate documentaries could be made about the immense effort it has been taking to make museums today return works of art they possess to the descendants of those who once owned the art...or to the young German who now has undertaken to return looted Torah crowns to the Jewish descendants...or the huge work during the war of museum curators and staff to pack and hide their museums' art from the Germans...or to the middle-aged, unremarkable French woman who was able to secretly keep lists of individual works of art and their destinations that the Germans were sending out of Paris...or the behavior of the German armies in Italy who destroyed without rational reason great historical buildings and bridges as they retreated north...or all that art the Soviets looted from Germany which now sits in the thousands in the basements of Russian museums.

What separates humanity from other animals is that we create art...and that we are so easily led to destroy the art we create, as well as to kill vast numbers of our brothers and sisters.
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7/10
Nobody is innocent
Chad Shiira6 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
If stripping a country of its art is akin to rape, then "The Rape of Europa" should be labeled a snuff film in the abstract sense. The Nazis not only violated the architecture of each city, they eviscerated it, by leveling everything they came in contact with to the ground. Germany penetrated so many European mothers, the audience may feel bludgeoned by the monotony of their serial greediness. "The Rape of Europa" gets repetitive but that's not the fault of the filmmaker. He has to tell the whole story; to leave any country out would be unconscionable, even though an unabridged comprehensiveness to the Nazis' relentless plundering of Europe's most prized possessions inevitably leads to audience fatigue. By the time the Nazis reach Russia, we're spent, exhausted, by their insatiability for beautiful things.

Adolph Hitler was a real piece of work, wasn't he? But are we ourselves, entirely innocent? If Gustav Klimt's "Gold Portrait of Frau Bloch-Bauer can sell at auction for $135 million dollars, doesn't such an exorbitant price make us accidental Nazi sympathizers in the sense that we too place such a high value on art over the welfare of people? Think about how many mouths $135 million dollars could feed. A human life must be cheap; that's why people kill each other all the time without a second thought. Conversely, no sane person alive would willfully stick a knife or squeeze a bullet into a Vermeer.

In "Schindler's List", Spielberg shows us a glimpse of the coordinated system by which the Nazis robbed the Jews, in a train station scene where officials instruct the doomed men and women to label their luggage as a way of obscuring their impending liquidation with faux-rationality. The train leaves, but the suitcases and bags stay behind. In a small back room, the suitcases are opened up and its contents are sorted out, itemized, and appraised. In bringing the story of material dispossession to the foreground, "The Rape of Europa" goes on record as being the only film about the holocaust with a happy ending. After the war ended, the art was recovered, and cultural heritages were kept intact.

Is a work of art equal to a human life? Of course, not. That's why an exhibit like "Bodies"(the cadavers of Chinese dissidents as representational art) gets under people's skins. The corpses, fascinating as they may be, goes against human nature, because it sides with art; it treats the unclaimed bodies like a rumor.
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9/10
Art History Light
GeneSiskel29 October 2009
Loosely centered on the well-known theft, from public and private collections, of great artworks and cultural artifacts by the Nazis, the Soviets, and common criminals during World War II and their removal in part to secret storage locations in Germany, Austria, and Russia, this documentary also touches on halting Allied war efforts to avoid the destruction of national heritage sites in Italy, still on-going restoration efforts after the war, issues of cultural patrimony (e.g., "Who owns, or should own, this stuff? The world? The nations from which it was plundered? The nations which suffered during wartime, won the war, and now claim it as restitution? Innocent purchasers for value? Religious communities? Descendents of long-dead wealthy collectors and benefactors who left it in place when they evacuated their homes?"), and the tens of thousands of artworks still unaccounted for. Hitler and Goering were collectors as well as thieves. Is it possible that the act of collecting is itself not totally above suspicion? Any of these minor themes, and others, would have made for an interesting documentary in itself. As it is, the documentary we see will please most history buffs and art fans. The historical footage is excellent -- Hitler was always Hitler, but pompous Goering surrendering his handgun momentarily showed fear -- the contemporary interviews of wartime survivors and art historians add flavor and insight, and the images of lost and found artworks are alternately chilling and thrilling. This film is accessible to an audience that may barely recognize the names da Vinci and Matisse. It tells something of the same story as "The Train" (1964) without the same level of fictional excitement.
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8/10
Rape of Europa --
joachimj1 August 2008
Wow, it is so tempting to comment on how the release of this film casts a dark shadow over the destruction of Babylonian manuscripts in Bagdad, Iraq a couple years back. I will not, though.

Hitler, according to one of the talking heads in this film, "was not a bad painter at all, but he certainly was not great or innovative, either." That's well-stated, in my opinion. Of the three artists applying for the scholarship, he was easily the least talented. This fact is suggested, as well. I suspect that while he was not an artist of note himself, the most that could be said was that he did have an eye for artwork. Whether that would be a "remarkable" eye remains to be suggested, but it hardly matters.

There are a few scenes in this film that are so incredibly harrowing, my mind had wandered into thoughts of how destructive was the damage in Europe: peculiar that that's precisely the objective of "good art," that it causes the mind and imagination to wander as such.

The last twenty minutes offers a noticeable glimmer of hope (and it is not a too-little-too-late message, either): Give Back. At least that's what I heard.

That said, this film offers a novel voice to the narrative presented. Thumbs up.
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10/10
Greed
can545-115 February 2009
What the movie does not show enough is that the spoils of war are now returned to families out of sheer GREED by the families. They are not returned to stay in the museum of their choice, but given back to the families after several generations to keep or sell as they choose, even when the will says to donate it to the country. Few family members were alive to see the works or have any personal significance to them.

The attitude from the Russians is simple--we took it, it belongs to us. I think that is stealing but because it is the Russians, no one does anything about it. i bet the Jews of Russian heritage do not claim a single Russian piece of art. Russia is about a democratic as Mao Zedong.

What the movie also does not say is that works of art have been taken by all nations since time began. It makes it out to be only the Jews that suffer this indignant slap.

In addition, the movie never discusses the Jews blame for the war waged on them--see the 1933 declaration of war by the Jews against Germany and Herschel Grynspan killing the German ambassador in Paris, the Versailles treaty which humiliated the Germans that was a Jewish creation, as causes for the hatred.

No Jew deserved to die, but they were not as innocent as is portrayed. The Rape of Europa is about the greed of nations and individuals to reclaim what was theirs when they left it or was taken from them.

Shall we give the US back to the native Americans or the gold in Spain back to the Incas?

The greed here is more one sided than shown.
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8/10
Neuschwanstein was the start of opening up that part of history that should never be forgotten.
lastliberal13 March 2009
If only the Vienna Art Academy would have found a place for young Adolf Hitler, we might have had a different world. But, they didn't think him a worthy artist, and upon his rise to power, he put his stamp on the art allowed in Germany and destroyed many works.

This film is about Hitler and the Nazi efforts to steal art all over the world as they conquered countries.

Poland was especially targeted, as Hitler planned to wipe out the Polish people, and all their culture and repopulate the country with Germans. The use of WWII footage made this especially poignant and brought home the evil in his mind.

Next was Paris, and it was fascinating to see how they emptied the Louvre before the Germans came. The French managed to protect most of their art; except for the thousands of paintings in Jewish galleries, of course.

The Russians managed to get a million paintings to Siberia before the Germans came, but many more paintings were at risk.

The Nazis were not the only ones responsible for the destruction and theft of European art. The United States dropped tons of bombs and, in one case, destroyed the Montecassino Monastery completely with no enemy dead. The Camposanto in Pisa was destroyed by shells that missed their mark.

But, the work that went on after the war to return the stolen art, and the work that goes on today to restore the damage gives on a good feeling. It is a shame it had to happen at all.
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9/10
All is Fair in Art and War
samkan17 November 2008
Really fascinating glimpse on WWII from a perspective not often viewed. I didn't like the USER COMMENTS herein about war-is-war, same-old-stuff, what-do-you-expect, etc. Such might be true but here we get to see the effects of modern war on the theme of plunder and booty: bombing, communications, transit, etc.

I will concede that some of the narrators/narration had sort of a lofty, elevated sense of themselves and/or their concern. Hey, war is a fact of life and if the uneducated rabble didn't fight it you art affectionadoes wouldn't be around to bid 6 million at Soothebys. But the film is great, however intended, because it conveys so many human traits at work; e.g., pride, nostalgia, sense-of-self, etc., as well as greed, pretensions, etc.

I especially liked learning that we Americans actually appointed guys to preserve, protect, etc., art. Don't think for a second such was done for any reason other than political concerns! Also, I couldn't help think that when tired, ragged, homesick GI's uncovered some of the troves they cared not about art but rather the hooters on those painted babes.
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10/10
Fantastic Documentary with Great Archival Footage
aquariusdude24 July 2008
This was a real historical awakening. I didn't realize that the plundering of Europe was not only premeditated but also very systematic by the Nazi regime. The interviews were excellent but I would have enjoyed more. The archival footage from both the allies and axis powers was detailed and intimate which included color as well as b&w. I was near tears to think of the great loss of centuries of historical buildings, valuables, art and other treasures due to the one idiot. I couldn't help to think what if this was the USA. How horrible the people of Europe must have felt during and after the war. I had never heard of the French patriot Rose Valland before and she truly was a French hero.
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8/10
I cannot appreciate Art, but this is very good.
TheEmulator2315 October 2008
This is another fascinating look at the devastation of everything that happened during WWII. This is a little known fact about the systematic way the Nazis stole everything & didn't think about any of the actual consequences of their own greed. I am the 1st to admit that I really know nothing about art and can't "Get it." I cannot understand the Van Gogh's or the Renoir's as much as I'd like to. I understand and like history & that is what I understand and appreciate just like movies & know a interesting story despite the topic if it is presented well. Just like understanding math, Art is in the same league, you either understand it/and or can do it, or you can't. It's not something you can really teach, just ask the failed artist Hitler. Just as this film suggests what if he had gotten into the art school? Would he have been the monster he became? Very doubtful & it explains his love/hate relationship w/the subject. Even if you can't understand why a painting sells for 5 million or 100 million (like I can't) this is still an interesting study.
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9/10
How much would a human life bring at a Sotheby auction?
pefrss15 February 2014
After watching George Clooney's Monument Men in the movie theater, I decided to revisit the documentary "The Rape of Europe" as it had been quite a few years since I saw it , I found it on DVD in the public library.

The documentary is much more informative and I think more fascinating than the movie. It is also much more thought provoking. Unfortunately it seems like art is more important than humans. Beside some Egyptian mummies or Neanderthalers there is no price tag attached to a human being (well, of course insurance agencies and divorce lawyers attach price tags), while pieces of art seem to get astronomic prices the longer they survive. And while human trafficking is a huge and booming business, the individual human being sold does not bring the same money as a piece of good art brings.

But if a Klimt belongs in a museum or makes the grandchildren of the painter's model multi-multi-millionaires was not the big question I was asking myself after viewing this documentary again.

What really stuck in my mind was one question raised by one art professor: What if the Viennese art school would have admitted Hitler? Would that have changed the world as we know it today? I am tempted to say yes. One little decision altered or ended the lives of millions of people and destroyed multiple countries.

Hitler would have concentrated his energies on becoming a successful artist, maybe he would have learned to appreciate modern art with the proper training It is frightening to think that one small little thing like a decision of an admission committee could have changed the world....

Though it seems so difficult to me today to understand the charisma of Hitler , it is also difficult for me to understand that G.W. Bush got elected twice, that the Kardashians are so popular and that we fall for advertising. One can only understand what happens in the context of the time when it happened.

. .
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8/10
Interesting and ultimately moving
runamokprods1 April 2013
One of those documentaries that grows in impact as it goes along. For the first hour or so I found this study of the Nazi's plundering and stealing Europe's great works of art, along with the allies attempts to spare art during the war, intellectually interesting, but a bit dry and even repetitive.

But as the film moves on to the aftermath of the war, and we get more of the human side of the story; great art treasures are returned to the lands whose cultures they represent and we see the joy that it brings, both sides of the Russian debate about keeping the art they took from Germany as a sort of reparation for the horrible human cost of the war, restorations still going on 60 years later with care and passion, a Christian German who has made it his mission to return beautiful and intricate Torah scroll caps to their rightful Jewish owners, the film blossoms into a very human examination of just how important art is to human beings and to our sense of selves.

Ultimately, what starts feeling like a somewhat academic exercise ends up as a very moving and human documentary.
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7/10
The seldom talked about side of the Holocaust...
MartinHafer27 May 2012
This is a sad but fascinating documentary. While I knew that Nazis stole art throughout Occupied Europe, I didn't realize how systematic it was as well as the HUGE scope of the plundering. It wasn't just Goering (the most famous for his plundering) but Hitler and many of his henchmen that were behind the thefts--and they planned their invasions with plunder in mind! So, for example, when they thought art to be 'decadent' is was often destroyed--and when it was 'good', it was sent for German museums or to the private collections of these thieves! Today, some museums (such as in Vienna) talk at returning paintings to original families! Fortunately, some others (like the Utah museum) did return painting and acted responsibly when they learned that pieces of art in their collections were stolen by the Nazis. Other topics discussed in this interesting film were: The Soviet 'trophy brigades' returned the favor and plundered German museums and private collections--and today they STILL have the art and refuse to return it.

That huge caches of art were found in mines as well as the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Southern Bavaria.

The ways that the Allies tried to avoid destroying art when they fought the Germans as well as efforts post-WWII to catalog and restore art to the rightful owners.

It was very nice seeing Jewish people get back their silver 'Torah crowns'--and I found it very touching.

Thousands of pieces of art are still missing--either destroyed or in private collections.

All in all, a fascinating portrait of a seldom talked about but sick side of the Nazis--priceless art stolen from Holocaust victims and museums. Well worth seeing.
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