Wednesday, March 12, 2014
'Madonna and Child'
The “Monuments Men”, were a group of approximately 345 men and women from thirteen nations most of whom volunteered for service in the newly created Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, or MFAA section during World War II. Many were museum directors, curators, art historians, artists, architects, and educators. Together they worked to protect monuments and other cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II. In the last year of the war, they tracked, located, and in the years that followed returned more than five million artistic and cultural items stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. Their role in preserving cultural treasures was without precedent.
Visitors to the canal-lined, storybook town of Bruges in Belgium, may look in awe at Michelangelo's marble sculpture, Madonna and Child, in the Church of Our Lady, but few know of its harrowing wartime journey. Stolen from the church by Nazi officers in 1944, the sculpture was eventually discovered by Monuments Men on a dirty mattress in a saltmine near Altaussee in Austria.
Stephen Kovalyak, George Stout and Thomas Carr transporting Michelangelo's, 'Madonna and Child' on July 9, 1945.