Hitler's Museum and Library
The Reports of the Office of Strategic Services Art Looting Investigation Unit
The reports on Hitler’s museum for Linz and Hermann Goering’s art collection that are reproduced on this website were drafted by art experts within the Office of Strategic Services (OSS); specifically, the members of the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) who researched the Nazis' plundering of cultural property in Europe. The OSS operated as the principal U.S. intelligence organization during World War II. The art experts' research took place mainly in 1945 and 1946 and involved interviews with most of the functionaries who implemented the Nazis' policies, as well as a review of thousands of captured documents. The OSS’ ALIU then issued a series of reports.
The preliminary reports were called Detailed Interrogation Reports (DIRs).
Each focused on a specific individual who played an important role in the
German plundering bureaucracy. There were officially thirteen DIRs, covering
figures such as the dealer Karl Haberstock, who sold more art to the Nazi
elite than any other individual; art historian
Kajetan Mühlmann, who organized plundering agencies in Poland and the Netherlands; and photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, who was close to Hitler and helped the dictator collect art. Several reports along the lines of the DIRs were subsequently issued by the OSS, including one on the dealer Hans Wendland.
The information in the DIRs was synthesized and analyzed in the more extensive Consolidated Interrogation Reports (CIRs). These reports also contained supplements, which comprised a series of relevant documents reproduced in the original language (usually German) and in English.
The first of the CIRs was written by James Plaut and concerned the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, the Nazi looting agency headed by Alfred Rosenberg that seized archives and artworks in the occupied western and eastern territories from 1940 to 1945. The second report, authored by Theodore Rousseau, treated Hermann Göring's art collection; and the third, tentatively titled “German Methods of Acquisition,” never appeared. The fourth, written by S. Lane Faison, covered the Führermuseum planned by Hitler for Linz. The Art Looting Investigation Unit Final Report was issued in 1947 and provided a history of the unit, as well as a series of recommendations for action,. Yet it is best known for its "Biographical Index of Individuals Involved in Art Looting." This is a list of hundreds of individuals who appeared in the documents and interviews that provided the basis for the ALIU reports. The “Final Report” can also be found on line at http://docproj.loyola.edu.
Additionally, a report on the Germans' plundering in the Netherlands
was written by Jean Vlug, a Dutch national who worked closely with the
OSS. This document, titled “Report on Objects Removed to Germany from Holland,
Belgium and France during the German Occupation on the Countries,” followed
the same format as the CIRs. Finally, two reports on art looted in
Switzerland utilized OSS/ALI research, and were produced under the auspices
of the US State Department.
It must be stressed that the reports have several limitations. Although the ALIU personnel conducted invaluable inquiries, the reports cannot necessarily be considered complete, and they do contain inadvertent errors. This was inevitable because many of the subjects intentionally tried to deceive their interrogators, and because available documentation was at times insufficient. Some mistakes are relatively minor--an umlaut, for example, might be missing from a name. In other cases, the reports do not characterize an event or an individual in an entirely accurate manner. It appears, for example, that the extent of Karl Haberstock's antisemitism is exaggerated in DIR No. 13. These reports were first drafts of history and should be treated that way.
Despite these limitations, the ALIU reports are among the most valuable resources available concerning the Nazi art looting programs. The members of the Art Looting Investigation Unit performed immeasurable service in both writing the history of art looting in World War II and facilitating the recovery and restitution of thousands of objects.
Table of Contents
List of Attachments
A. The New Linz
B. First Ideas for the Linz Museum
C. The Sonderauftrag
Personalities of the Linz Commission
A. Organization of the Sonderauftrag
B. The Party Bosses
C. The Directorate
D. Lesser Functionaries
Methods of Acquisition
B. Confiscation and Exchange
C. Forced Sale
E. Arrangements for Agents Abroad
German Agents and Buyers
A. Nazi Officials
B. Chief Dealers and Agents Abroad
C. Lesser Figures
I. Great Britain
J. The United States
VI. The Linz Library
VII. Scope of the Collections
Conclusions and Recommendations