“…when it came to assigning soldiers … a responsibility of guarding a work of art, somehow there was pride in this thing that was manifested in what they said, and how they did it, and in the end of course it was the common soldier who saved these things.”—
Walker Hancock illuminates the great importance of the average soldier in achieving the mission of the Monuments Men. For more, and to hear a clip of this interview with Hancock, check out our exhibit.
“The one thing I think that must be guarded against … in our efforts to create a black image and to assert our quality, our character, our blackness, our beauty, and all that, the art form must remain one of high level. I think of Ralph Ellison who always said, ‘I want to be the right arm, the themes of my people, but I want to be a great writer regardless.’”—
Artist Hale Woodruff bolsters his argument with a quote from Ralph Ellison, who would have turned 100 today.
“The photographs that I made [in Chicago] … were things that I was trying to express in a social conscious way. I’d become sort of involved in things that were happening to people. No matter what color they be, whether they be Indians, or Negroes, the poor white person or anyone who was I thought more or less getting a bad shake. I, you know, thought I had the instinct toward championing the cause.”—Oral history interview with Gordon Parks, 1964 Dec. 30
Out far out I know not wither go my love then as the tide.
Far, far, called by the moon, mad muse.
Ebb, ebb, ocean ward a call unhuman do I harken unto
To that great vast expanse of endevor I do go—
But then also as the tide my longing turns landward
Ardent then my love, on, on, returning.
Sweet land! nearer, nearer, higher, higher,
Fair cliff mine kisses know; dear earth beloved beach!
Upon the breast then of the beach weary the waves find peace
Sweet beach of all my wandering hopes; I whisper softly.
Lovingly with embraces pleading
Gently then with kisses speaking, unto the lovely shore, your love.
Perhaps Beatrice Fenton wished she could write poetry because Marjorie Martinet was so good at expressing her feelings towards Beatrice in verse.
“I would pour out to you the tenderest and the most fervent love I know if you were here to-night, Beloved. I wish I could do more than write it, or that I could write poetry. You are so dear, Marjorie! With a thousand kisses—your Beatrice”—
A passionate letter from Beatrice Fenton to Marjorie Martinet.
“…the United States policy, which was a brand-new policy, as far as I know, in the history of the world, instead of “finders-keepers” in the Napoleon sense—I mean, the Louvre collection is largely what Napoleon pulled out of Italy, after all. None of that. We were going to return to the country of origin anything that came out of it, as long as it had come out of it during the occupation.”—
S. Lane Faison, one of the Monuments Men, reflects on how their efforts after WWII were different from previous approaches to the spoils of war.
“By decree of 1 March 1942, the Führer has put Reichsleiter Rosenberg…in charge of the spiritual battle against Jews and Free Masons and affiliated opponents of National Socialism on the basis of their “Weltanschauung,” who are the instigators of the present war. The Führer declared the systematic spiritual battle against these forces to be a task dictated by the necessities of war.”—
A chilling document - a translation of Hitler’s orders authorizing Alfred Rosenberg and his Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce to “search libraries, archives, lodges and other philosophical and cultural institutions of all kinds for appropriate material and to seize such material,” the justification being that it was part of the “spiritual battle” against the Jews. This document is featured in our Monuments Men exhibit which opens to the public this Friday, February 7th.