April 24, 2001
National Archives Publishes Microfilm of Reports of Nazi Art Looting Investigations
College Park, MD. . .For the first time, researchers wanting to see reports from the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) of the Office of Strategic Services will not have to travel to the National Archives at College Park to examine the original paper documents. The National Archives announced that it will release a microfilm publication consisting of reports of art looting and trafficking of looted art by the Nazis in World War II on Tuesday, May 8. The publication entitled, “OSS Art Looting Investigation Unit Reports, 1945-46,” consists of detailed interrogation reports, consolidated interrogation reports, and the final report of the ALIU.
The microfilm publication, (M1782), is available for research use in the microfilm research rooms at the National Archives Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, at the National Archives at College Park, and at the 13 National Archives regional facilities, located in major urban areas nationwide.
The publication may be purchased through the National Archives Customer Service Center in College Park, MD. Credit card orders may be placed by calling 1-800-234-8861 (or 301-713-6800 in the Washington, DC metropolitan area) or by mailing or faxing (to 301-837-0483) an order form to the Customer Service Center. Orders paid for by check or money order should be sent to the National Archives Trust Fund in Atlanta, GA.
The ALIU was established in 1944 “to collect and disseminate information bearing on the looting, confiscation, and transfer by the enemy of art properties in Europe.” It was also mandated to find information “on individuals or organizations involved in such operations or transactions, as will be of direct aid to the United States agencies empowered to effect restitution of such properties and prosecution of war criminals.” The ALIU, during its relatively short existence, worked closely with The American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas, U.S. Army’s Museum, Fine Arts & Archives officers, and other Allied organizations engaged in activities involving the identification and recovery of looted cultural property.
In 1945 and 1946, the ten-member ALIU produced 1,000+ pages of reports that are indispensable today to those individuals, institutions, and organizations engaged in art provenance and claims research. Until now, these reports were only available in their original paper format at the National Archives at College Park.
The microfilmed records are being made available on May 8, the 56th anniversary of the U.S. Army’s discovery of the salt mine at Alt Aussee, Austria, where the greatest concentration of Nazi plunder from Western Europe was concealed. After the discovery of the salt mine, ALIU staff established a base of operations at Alt Aussee and set about interrogating many of those involved in the plundering of works of art. Particular attention was paid to the works of art acquired by Reichsmarshall Herman Goering, to a projected Hitler Museum at Linz, and to the Nazi looting organization in France under the leadership of Alfred Rosenberg (Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or the ERR). The ALIU work at Alt Aussee resulted in the clarification of the nature of the looting process and the identification of the whereabouts of countless masterpieces.
For more information about National Archives holdings of records relating to art provenance and claims research, see www.archives.gov/research_room/holocaust_era_assets/ or call the Textual Archives Division of the National Archives at 301-837-3510.
For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.