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Topic: German occupation  (Read 208156 times)
Reply #45
« on: August 04, 2006, 09:52:54 PM »
David_Pritchard
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Part of an article by Ulrike Hartung of the University of Bremen, found here: http://spoils.libfl.ru/spoils/eng/spoil2_3.html with reference to the thefts of books from the Imperial Libaries at Pavlovsk, Gatchina and Tsarsko Selo.

THE "SONDERKOMMANDO KÜNSBERG" LOOTING OF CULTURAL TREASURES IN THE USSR

The "Sonderkommando Künsberg" (Special Unit Künsberg) was one of numerous national socialist organizations, which systematically and on a large scale looted cultural treasures from the USSR in the course of World War II. Eberhard Freiherr von Künsberg took command of this unit on behalf of the Foreign Ministry ("Auswärtiges Amt") under the foreign minister of the Third Reich, von Ribbentrop. Apart from museum exhibits, posters and records, mainly archival material, magazines and books were confiscated. In March 1942, the academic staff members of the unit organized an exhibition in Berlin under the title "Examples of the objects taken by the Sonderkommando Künsberg of the Foreign Ministry during the action in Russia". The booty was presented in four categories: 1. regional studies, 2. politics, 3. political files, and 4. valuables saved from destruction.
The exhibition in Berlin showed, however, that the confiscations of the Sonderkommando went far beyond the before mentioned instructions of the OKH order.

Research concerning its financing and its status revealed that the SS-Sonderkommando (Secret Service Special Unit) of the Foreign Ministry Group Künsberg ("Gruppe Künsberg", this was the official title) is a typical example for the Darwinism of authorities in national socialist Germany. Academic institutions, such as the North-East and South-East German Research Community, financed by the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of the Interior, took charge of Künsberg's academic staff. For the action of the Secret Military Police ("Geheime Feldpolizei", G.F.P) in the West, the Künsberg group was classified by the OKW as "u.k." ("unabkömmlich" - indispensable). Despite their reluctance, they were detailed for the attack of the Soviet Union by the SS. The logistic equipment was partly financed by the Waffen-SS.

Comparatively well equipped, the Sonderkommando operated in the front line under the command of the military units North, Centre, and South. With the seizure of the cities the onslaught on cultural institutions began. The entrances of occupied buildings were marked with special seals of the military unit. Already in 1941, different organizations were competing for the confiscation of cultural treasures. In 1942, the situation became more serious after the civil administration had been set up. The trophy actions of the different NS-institutions became absurd. One of the cultural institutions in Tallin was searched through by seven different organizations. There was no clear line in the confiscation policy of the special unit of the Foreign Ministry. It altered according to the situation on the spot. The officials in charge were uncertain which objects to pack for transport into the Reich. Their instructions alternated between "take all that could be of any use to us" and "do not take anything which is in stock five times already". Offices of the Sonderkommando Künsberg, where the war booty was prepared for transport, were spread over the entire region of the Soviet Union, from the Baltic States in the North to the Crimea in the South.

During the winter of 1942, the section in Berlin was closed down. By that time 304,694 pieces of art had already been handed over to other institutions. Apart from different sections of the Foreign Ministry, the main addressee of the objects was Alfred Rosenberg's Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Regions. It was he who received the exceptionally valuable books from the libraries of the Russian Tsar Castles south of Leningrad. This concerned 10,000 volumes from the 18th to the 20th century of Tsarskoe Selo, 11,500 volumes from the library of the Pavlovsk Castle, and another 16,000 books from Gachina. The Rosenberg ministry also received 60,000 books taken from the Hebraica and the Judaica collection of Kiev. These four important collections alone add up to 97,500 books.
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Reply #46
« on: August 04, 2006, 10:01:14 PM »
David_Pritchard
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Thomas Banks's missing 'Cupid'

The sculptor Thomas Banks is currently the subject of an exhibition at Sir John Soane's Museum. Its curator, Julius Bryant, tells the story of one of Banks's most celebrated works, purchased by Catherine the Great, which vanished during World War II.

In 1941, to save a favourite work of art from advancing Nazi troops, the curator of Pavlovsk Palace, near Leningrad, buried a neo-classical statue, Cupid by Thomas Banks (1735-1805), next to its pedestal. Unfortunately, on the curator's return in 1944, no trace of the statue could be found. Further excavations conducted in the 1980s during the restoration of the gardens proved fruitless, leading to the conclusion that Cupid had been abducted to Germany. The sculpture had never been engraved but photographs (Figs. 1 and 2) and other documentation provided by today's curators at Pavlovsk are here published for the first time, in the hope that Banks's sculpture may be recognised, perhaps as Nazi loot, and repatriated.

(sorry the anouncement did not include the photographs)

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Reply #47
« on: August 04, 2006, 10:23:32 PM »
Tania+ Offline
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Dear David,

Your vast research is appreciated beyond words, and we who want and need to know to date what has happened to the vast art treasurers of Russia, thank you. You have gone beyond the normal action of just posting information. You have gotten to the very heart of how much a country, a peoples, a whole civilization was plundered, raped, and killed, but much more, so that the Nazi elite could control, everything at will. It was so very painful to read all that these barbarians did, and how much sacrafice, patience, hope, and will the Russian people continued to have in spite of everything they were forced to endure.

It has left me speechless to think of all the ravages of destruct these Nazi zealots offered. I don't think half of the people who think they know about history of Russia, ever read what you have shared these past hours.

Now when i read about the section of placing a marker over the graves of those Nazis who were killed in Russia and buried, I have to agree with you 100%, that each and every one of their bodies needs, no must be exhumed and sent back to Germany. There needs to be no reminder for poor Russia to have and hold in their memory bank that their lands still remain with those bodies of men who initially wished to dominate them for a thousand years and more.

Again, profound thanks for all you offer the AP Forums, and in every positive posting you share with the readers presently and to those who will continue to read in the future. I am sure as well, that Vladm can concur with you on many of the research notes you have so kindly shared.

I hope that all readers will finally understand in full, the heavy price Russia paid against Nazi oppression and domination in every way.
I have to just sit here and try and absorb what I read, and then go back again and read it all again slowly. It is so much to absorb, and understand. It is just mind boggling to think any nation, and peoples could be subjected to so much sorrow and pain, again and again.

Tatiana+
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Reply #48
« on: August 04, 2006, 11:21:09 PM »
David_Pritchard
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From the International Law Of War Association:

The Soviet Union was in particular badly looted. Its museums were ill-prepared for the German invasion and were quickly stripped of the art that the Germans wanted. What they did not want, they destroyed. Palaces, museums, libraries, and churches were completely plundered and left gutted. The numbers alone are mind-boggling: 427 Soviet museums were looted; 1670 Russian Orthodox churches were destroyed or damaged, along with some 500 synagogues. Thirty-four thousand objects were removed from Peterhof in Leningrad and sent to Germany before the palace was destroyed; at Novgorod, 30,000 valuable books were taken. The richest museums in the USSR together lost more than 500,000 items. Moreover, many of the items that were taken were completely unique, including the beautiful Amber Room of the Catherine Palace in Pushkin. The room's amber panels were dismantled by the Germans and sent back to Germany, and they have not resurfaced since the end of the war.

The German military in Russia comitted what is probably the worlds largest theft of cultural property. I feel very strongly that the Russians should make them pay for the restoration of the Imperial Palaces south of Saint Petersburg. The more I think of it, I prefer the tax on the sale of natural gas to the offending countries: Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and Roumania.

David
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Reply #49
« on: August 06, 2006, 09:57:53 AM »
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I agree, David. As the cause of such horrific destruction, the Germans ought to pay to restore all that they damaged. At the same time though, the Germans could demand the same thing from the Allies. Think of all that was lost in the bombings of Dresden and Hamburg for example.

I believe that the German soldiers should indeed be returned to Germany. While I have respect for the dead regardless of nationality, the Germans buried them there purely to spite the Russians. I believe they should be returned to their homeland.



This is the Semi-Circular Hall, by the way. You can tell by those marvelous archways framed with marble Ionic columns as well as the unique doorframe in between the fireplaces.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2006, 10:01:48 AM by Ortino » Logged
Reply #50
« on: August 06, 2006, 10:36:20 AM »
David_Pritchard
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As the cause of such horrific destruction, the Germans ought to pay to restore all that they damaged. At the same time though, the Germans could demand the same thing from the Allies. Think of all that was lost in the bombings of Dresden and Hamburg for example.

As far as I know, the city of Hamburg was a valid military target. Dresden on the other hand was bombed as an act of revenge for the fire bombing of Coventry, England by the Germans. To me and many others, the bombing of Dresden was a criminal act on the part of the British as it was declared an open city and a safe haven for refugees.

The acts of organised mass theft and cultural vandalism in the Soviet Union by the Germans had no comparison. The leaders of Germany allotted 20,000 members of the NSKK, the Nazi Transportation Corps to the task of shipping stolen art and cultural artefacts back to Germany in 1942, when they might have been put to better military use supplying the German Army in southern Russia. Cultural theft and destruction was a priority to the Nazis just as their counter-productive obsession with the destruction of the Jewish race during the war wasted German resources and manpower that could have been used elsewhere for military purposes.  What sets the German style of looting, pillaging and vandalising apart from previous armies is the scale, organisation and the underlining intent behind the criminal acts.

If one wants to understand the scale of the German criminal acts, I would recommend the book Pavlovsk: the Life of a Palace by Suzanne Massie which devotes many pages to the subject of theft and vandalism by the Germans and Spanish in the Imperial Palaces near Saint Petersburg.

David
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Reply #51
« on: August 06, 2006, 01:17:05 PM »
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  I'm not arguing the validity of their destruction, only the fact that many things of historical and cultural value were lost because of it. Please don't misinterpret my meaning.
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Reply #52
« on: August 06, 2006, 01:34:44 PM »
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I think Germany has paid war-damage resittution and not only to Russia. Also, the repatriating of looted art is a quid pro quo on the parts of both countries. It still goes on.
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Reply #53
« on: August 06, 2006, 02:09:06 PM »
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To know absolutely, so one may make further statement, would be to find out exactly what the true amount of war-damage restitution was paid out to nations. I for one would like to know the exact amount, and to whom. But whatever amount, imho, it can never, never ever fully pay for the immensity of damage it did to Russia's art, church, libraries, museums, and countless other national treasurers. That of course is not even counting the extremes of human loss of life. I understand what both David and Ortino have stated. These countless heartless, and premeditated acts of the Nazis are unparalled. I don't think to date, imho, Germany has paid enough in restitution.

Tatiana+
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Reply #54
« on: August 06, 2006, 02:15:09 PM »
David_Pritchard
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  I'm not arguing the validity of their destruction, only the fact that many things of historical and cultural value were lost because of it. Please don't misinterpret my meaning.

I understand your line of thinking, What I am trying to explain to you is the German line of thinking, in that they wanted to remove or destroy the symbols of Russian higher culture be it Tolstoy, Pushkin, Tchaikovsky or Petergof or the Aleksander Palace. The twisted reasoning behind this was to prove their false premise, that the Russian were nothing more than a lower form of humanity. Can you just imagine the treatment of Russian culture in a 1000 year Reich. Tolstoy would be transformed into a Baltic German writer, Tchaikovsky would become a Volga German, after all his compositions followed the German style, and the chandelier from the Chinese Theater would be marked as the former property of the German born Tsarina Ekaterina made by an imported German master craftsman.

I entirely agree with you about the destruction of historical and cultural treasures in the cities of Hamburg and Dresden but this destruction was incidental to the Allies intention of defeating the German military. The German destruction in Russia on the other hand was policy and the goal was to eradicate all vestige of cultural advancement in Russia to conform with Nazi propaganda and anthropological pseudo-science.

David
« Last Edit: August 06, 2006, 02:18:31 PM by David_Pritchard » Logged
Reply #55
« on: August 06, 2006, 02:20:50 PM »
Robert_Hall Offline
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Tania, simply Google "German war resitution" and you find at least a dozen pages of entries. Including   an excellent one from Harvard and another from the Enc. Britannica.
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Reply #56
« on: August 06, 2006, 02:37:58 PM »
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Quote
I entirely agree with you about the destruction of historical and cultural treasures in the cities of Hamburg and Dresden but this destruction was incidental to the Allies intention of defeating the German military. The German destruction in Russia on the other hand was policy and the goal was to eradicate all vestige of cultural advancement in Russia to conform with Nazi propaganda and anthropological pseudo-science.

 I understand what you're saying and agree that the mentality is very different between the two; the Germans set out specifically to destroy Russian treasures while elsewhere they were simply a unfortunate casualty of war. In the end though, eveyone suffers, no matter who did it or for what reasons.  I suppose this is just a terrible reality of war.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2006, 02:41:03 PM by Ortino » Logged
Reply #57
« on: August 07, 2006, 12:05:43 AM »
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About who, owes whom, I have one simple math, we (Russians or Soviets) didn't attack Germany, it was other way around. Also, Dresden was restored mostly by Russians (if you remember DDR), USSR by that time, was taking pride in supporting Eastern Germany, and art was return to Dresden gallery almost entirely.
But, USSR not just completely crystal clear, I know about one place in Moscow (this is not an urban legend), where located treasure looted from Germany during WWII, this roughly 1/3 of entire Russian gold reserve (data from 1989), but this is considered as national secret, and this gold/treasure not part of national public reserve (meaning not liquid treasure).
Now, lets compare two countries - today Summer 2006, if you will cross Germany, right and left, I doubt, any of you, would be able to find - scars from the WWII, but in Russia, right and left, we can see dark ruins, in some cases with minefields, even today!
Does, Russia has a right for this treasure? I think so! Because, October Revolution 1917, was done on German money, and Germany advanced after, over 1000 km inland! Because of that, Russian Empire (USSR), lost south part of Armenia including mountain Ararat, and Poland. But summer 1917 Germany was on really bad position. WWII left entire country in ruins, and USSR restored first "Eastern block", and after start taking care itself.
Now, do German solders deserve to have proper post on the graveyard? I think so, but it shouldn't be done for free.
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Reply #58
« on: August 07, 2006, 06:34:47 AM »
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... do German solders deserve to have proper post on the graveyard? I think so, but it shouldn't be done for free.



I have been told by the museum staff that many of the numerous German tourists who visit Pushkin and the Catherine Palace, also make it a point of stopping by and paying their respect to these graves, some even bring flowers. Obviously there is an interest on the part of the Germans in this graveyard. I think it would be a good idea if they organized themselves and paid for a plaque or a marker for this spot, as I doubt that the Russian people would be able, let alone willing, to pay for it. So I agree with VladM, there should be a plaque marking the area, but it should be paid by the Germans, not by the Russians.

BTW, I seriously doubt that these remains will be repatriated any time soon, but I suppose stranger things have happened...
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Reply #59
« on: August 07, 2006, 11:37:40 AM »
Tania+ Offline
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Dear Vladm,

Your point is taken quite clearly and makes perfect in summation. Russia did not attack Germany! Your more than correct about the art being returned to Dresden, and Dresden being restored primarily by Russians. That cost was I would imagine quite hefty right there.

Can you please kindly explain a bit more about treasure from Germany, I don't quite understand this part of your post. Thank you in advance.

When I travelled to Russia I saw places as you stated that still bore the scars from WWII, but i never knew that there were still mine fields still alive ? That is mind boggling to know.

I agree with you as well, that if it has to do with any of the german soldiers being given monuments, or being reburied, their bodies transferred out of the country back to Germany, the German Governmnent should be involved and charged in full ! The Russian people and Russian Government should not have to shoulder again any of the above responsibilities, nor have to bear again the unbearable memories of the tragic loss of so many of their own loved ones, both soldiers, civilians, and children. The above scenerio of closure is the best in terms of closing one of the worst chapters in history of a world war, and to that of who gets buried where. Russia is not 'home' soil for nazi soldiers !

Tatiana+

Tatiana+

About who, owes whom, I have one simple math, we (Russians or Soviets) didn't attack Germany, it was other way around. Also, Dresden was restored mostly by Russians (if you remember DDR), USSR by that time, was taking pride in supporting Eastern Germany, and art was return to Dresden gallery almost entirely.
But, USSR not just completely crystal clear, I know about one place in Moscow (this is not an urban legend), where located treasure looted from Germany during WWII, this roughly 1/3 of entire Russian gold reserve (data from 1989), but this is considered as national secret, and this gold/treasure not part of national public reserve (meaning not liquid treasure).
Now, lets compare two countries - today Summer 2006, if you will cross Germany, right and left, I doubt, any of you, would be able to find - scars from the WWII, but in Russia, right and left, we can see dark ruins, in some cases with minefields, even today!
Does, Russia has a right for this treasure? I think so! Because, October Revolution 1917, was done on German money, and Germany advanced after, over 1000 km inland! Because of that, Russian Empire (USSR), lost south part of Armenia including mountain Ararat, and Poland. But summer 1917 Germany was on really bad position. WWII left entire country in ruins, and USSR restored first "Eastern block", and after start taking care itself.
Now, do German solders deserve to have proper post on the graveyard? I think so, but it shouldn't be done for free.

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TatianaA

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