By John Ostapkovich
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Italy is known for some of the world’s great art, which World War Two could have wiped out, but for the exploits of a few brave and knowledgeable troops.
Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis is Robert Edsel’s third book on Monuments officers who risked their lives to save priceless treasures, not only from Nazi theft or destruction, but from Allied bombs and artillery. For example, a bomb landed only 80 feet away from The Last Supper, exposing the masterpiece to the elements.
Edsel says two of these troops got killed and so many had close call to avoiding booby traps to save cultural treasures. He says it’s time they got recognition.
“We now know who the Tuskeegee Airmen are. We we know about the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles, but we don’t know who these Monuments officers are, and we paid a horrible price as a country not knowing that in the aftermath of the looting of the National Museum of Baghdad in 2003.”
One of these troops, Walker Hancock, created the 39 foot Angel of the Resurrection statue in 30th Street Station. Edsel gives a talk at the Philadelphia Museum of Art tomorrow night. A movie called The Monuments Men, starring and directed by George Clooney, is expected shortly.
Saving Italy: The Monuments Men, Nazis, and War
Location: Van Pelt Auditorium
$12 ($10 members, $5 students with ID)
In 1943, Allied bombing threatened Michelangelo’s David and nearly destroyed Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. In his new book, Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis (2013), author Robert M. Edsel follows the fascinating journey of art historian Frederick Hartt and artist Deane Keller to save these and other masterpieces.
Edsel is the best-selling author of The Monuments Men and Rescuing Da Vinci, and co-producer of the award-winning documentary The Rape of Europa. A book signing will follow the lecture, and books will be available for purchase.