Five paintings obtained by U.S. servicemen while serving in Germany at the end of World War II were returned to Germany.
The paintings were returned to the German ambassador to the United States on Tuesday by two American families during a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, the German news agency DPA reported.
The families reportedly began the process of returning the artworks after seeing the movie “The Monuments Men,” directed by George Clooney, who also starred in the 2014 film.
An Allied platoon called the Monuments Men during World War II retrieved tens of thousands of valuable masterpieces and returned them to their rightful owners. The Dallas-based Monuments Men Foundation continues this effort and works to raise awareness of the danger posed to works of art and cultural objects in war zones around the world.
Three of the paintings, which had been stored by an art museum in Dessau in the Solvayhall salt mine for protection during the war, were mailed to the United States after the war by a U.S. Army major who said he won them in a poker game, according to reports. His step-son contacted the Monuments Men Foundation in order to return the paintings, the only paintings stolen from the 200 stored in the mine ever to be returned to the museum, the foundation’s head Robert Edsel told DPA.
Two of the paintings were returned by the family of a woman from Montana, who purchased them for a small price while she was stationed in Germany after the war. The two paintings will be returned to the royal family of Hesse. They had been stolen from the Kronberg Castle outside of Frankfurt.