‘Saving Italy’ recounts the efforts to protect cultural treasures during WWII

SavingItaly_HiRes_RGB(1)

There are sites all across Europe, from the Normandy beaches to Auschwitz, where travelers can recall the acts of heroism and sacrifice that occurred there during World War II.

But the war rarely crosses the minds of tourists taking in some of Italy’s most-visited cultural treasures, like the Last Supper, Michelangelo’s David, Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge. But those masterpieces still stand only because of the efforts of a group of little-known art historians and educators turned soldiers known as Monuments Men.

“To think that some 65 years after the war, there’s a story of such epic proportion that the broad public really doesn’t know about is astonishing,” says author Robert Edsel. “When we consider some of the problems that we experienced in the aftermath of the looting of the National Museum of Iraq in 2003, which was a small regional conflict, it’s remarkable to imagine that we were able to do this with just a hundred or so men and women during a truly world war.”

Edsel’s latest book, “Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures From the Nazis,” recounts the efforts of the Monuments Men to preserve, protect and recover some of the greatest works of art in the history of western civilization. Throughout the war, works by the likes of Leonardo, Caravaggio, Raphael and Botticelli were threatened by bombings or looting by Nazi soldiers hunting for specimens for Hitler’s collection.

“The Monuments officers had been assigned to protect cultural monuments and treasures from Allied bombing,” Edsel explains. “We didn’t want to be the goats of history by destroying western civilization’s cultural heritage in the process of trying to defeat Hitler and the Nazis. But when they arrived the degree of premeditated theft was vastly in excess of anything they’d anticipated.”

Edsel’s previous book, “The Monuments Men,” is being turned into a film by George Clooney, who’s co-starring with Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett.

“It’s a great story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” says Keller, who recently visited the set in Berlin. “I don’t think we can ever hear too many stories about something good we did as a country.”

If you go

Robert Edsel
Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th Street & Ben Franklin Parkway
$5-$12, 215-763-8100
www.philamuseum.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

National

Donut capers stymie police in Oregon

For more than a month, mysterious vandals have been smearing pastries on cars, depositing donuts in lawns and leaving cakes strewn about the streets.

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.