The Nazis were certainly infamous for looting precious works of art and national treasures from occupied European nations, but I also wonder about the Allies' policy of returning or claiming stolen loot during the aftermath of the war. I've been studying a book, "Hitler and the Habsburgs" (2018) by James Longo, and there was a chapter about how members of the royal Habsburg family tried to reclaim family heirlooms hidden by the Nazis and found by the "Monuments Men". However they refused to return the items back to the family.

Therefore two questions for your consideration:

  • How often were the national treasures of European nations stolen by the Nazis returned to their proper owners at the conclusion of the war by the Allies? I sometimes wonder if liberators with sticky fingers would be inclined to hold onto a few precious mementos? I view the honesty and professionalism of the so-called Monuments Men or artwork liberators with a high degree of skepticism.

  • How about Germany's national treasures and historical artifacts (from the Middle Ages and onwards)? excluding the questionable Nazi stuff. Were they also throughly ransacked and looted by the Allies as well? I'd imagine medieval castles, museums, and other cultural heritage sites would be quite lucrative for looters. I'm sure that even the homes of civilians were up for plunder.

It goes without saying that the aftermath of the Second World War was a time of terrible suffering and upheaval, especially for civilians. I understand looting and ransacking are often regarded as appealing bounties of war for soldiers, regardless of whether they fought for the Allies or Axis. I understand the Soviets were quite vengeful with their looting in Eastern Germany, especially after the devastation that the Nazis wreaked on their homeland. But not much seems to be said about the Allies.

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Without delving into the ethics of looting, can anyone provide some insight on the extent of the looting that occurred in post-war Germany and Europe by the Allies during that time? I would welcome stories and perspectives on this topic.

Source: reddit post


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