Last night I watched "The Rape of Europa" on PBS and highly recommend everyone watch it. I knew that the Nazis stole and destroyed a lot of art, but I had no idea to what extent. While none of it begins to compare to the loss of human life at the hand of Hitler's regime, it was incredible to see images of the mass amount of artwork that was stolen, and to see great museums emptying their buildings of masterpieces in anticipation of the arrival of the Nazi army. Above is an image of the Winged Victory of Somothrace during it's evacuation from the Louvre. Below is a description of the program from the PBS website:
THE RAPE OF EUROPA tells the epic story of the systematic theft, deliberate destruction and miraculous survival of Europe’s art treasures during the Third Reich and World War II. In a journey through seven countries, the film takes viewers into the violent whirlwind of fanaticism, greed, and warfare that threatened to wipe out the artistic heritage of Europe. For twelve long years, the Nazis looted and destroyed art on a scale unprecedented in history. But heroic young art historians and curators from America and across Europe fought back with an extraordinary campaign to rescue and return the millions of lost, hidden and stolen treasures. Now, more than sixty years later, the legacy of this tragic history continues to play out as families of looted collectors recover major works of art, conservators repair battle damage, and nations fight over the fate of ill-gotten spoils of war. Joan Allen narrates this breathtaking chronicle about the battle over the very survival of centuries of western culture.