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The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  5,261 Ratings  ·  188 Reviews
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
The cast of characters includes Hitler and Goering, Gertrude Stein and Marc Chagall--not to mention works by artists from Leonardo da Vinci to Pablo Picasso. And the story told in this superbly researched and suspenseful book is that of the Third Reich's war on European culture and the Allies' desperate effort to preserve it
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Hardcover, 498 pages
Published April 12th 1994 by Knopf
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Michelle
Dec 18, 2008 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear Lynn Nichols,

I'm very sorry that I have had to give up on your informative, well-researched, and extensively annotated book. I'm sure that if I'd finished it, it would have been awesome, so I'm going to go ahead and give it five stars anyway.

You see, Netflix has this great new feature where you can download movies and watch them immediately. I'm going to watch the documentary instead. Yes, I normally prefer to read the book, but in this case I'm going to make an exception.

Oh, and another re
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Jesse
I finished reading this book almost exactly a year ago. And in the year that has since passed, I have attempted to wrap my head around everything meticulously laid out in the 450 pages of tiny black print that make up this book. I find that I grapple with the knowledge I gained here more often than I could have possibly imagined. You know how people use solar eclipses to glance directly at the sun? Well, I have found that it is through this book that I have started to honestly fathom the ...more
Melinda
May 14, 2009 Melinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, art-history
I have read "Rescuing Da Vinci" and also seen the DVD "The Rape of Europa", so I am now reading the original book that was the catalyst for the book and DVD. Lynn Nicholas is interviewed in the DVD and I decided to read her book and learn more.

******** after reading the book *********

Having read "Rescuing Da Vinci" and having watched the DVD "The Rape of Europa", I thought I would read the book that started it all. Lynn Nicholas, who is interviewed extensively on the DVD, wrote this book to docu
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Lobstergirl
Nov 24, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Pia Zadora
Shelves: european-history, art
It seems like a lot of readers found this unattractively dense and fact-packed, but I thoroughly enjoyed it - as much as one can enjoy a book largely about the looting of art treasures from Jews and other war victims. Nicholas meticulously researched her subject for years, combing through institutional archives and privately held papers and interviewing various surviving owners of the looted collections. It's a fascinating story, full of villains and heroes, one that hasn't ended yet; there are ...more
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Dec 05, 2010 Susanna - Censored by GoodReads rated it really liked it
Recommended to Susanna - Censored by GoodReads by: art lovers group here at GR
Shelves: art-history, nazis
This one has some interesting choices in structure, and reads a little as if Nicholas were suffering from "I did all this research, so you're going to read about it!" syndrome. But very, very interesting.

All about the passions aroused by art in wartime. How to protect? How to find (by thief or otherwise)? To whom to return it?

Also I love the factoid learned here that Hitler was reading a biography of Ghengis Khan during the sack of Warsaw.
Andy
Mar 05, 2009 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
World War II was, for a few, a historic opportunity to loot and pillage. And the theft of artwork, along with other forms of national treasure, was perfected and institutionalized on the grandest scale by the Nazis. Hitler was of course involved, but Goering was considerably more preoccupied. He stole, traded, and hoarded an enormous quantity of valuables (paintings, sculptures, tapestries, precious metals, gems, ceremonial objects, rare books, furniture, you name it) to fill his cavernous ...more
Tara
Nov 21, 2008 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i almost forgot that historical non-fiction can be a total tear-jerker. i got a little misty-eyed here and there when the author accounted for both allied and axis measures to protect art during the cultural holocaust of the 2nd ww. emotions aside, i admire how well-researched this book is, so hats off to lynn nicholas. if you have any interest or inclination toward this subject/era, its a good way to learn more about the 2nd ww esp. if you prefer an art history/cultural approach to the subject. ...more
Erik
Jun 17, 2008 Erik rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although it does often read like a laundry list of people, events, and places in art world of war-torn Europe during the late 30’s and 40’s, I will say I was in awe of Nicholas’s research into this often-ignored area of WWII history. His ability to explain human motivation and exploitation of artistic works of art in extreme minutiae is second to none. The description of the great mass of refuges from Belgium and the Netherlands who descended into France before the latter's fall – along with ...more
Darla
Sep 03, 2016 Darla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Another rating quandary...LH's research is astounding, her attention to detail unparalleled.; unfortunately it made my brain go into overload and I couldn't keep track of everything (anything?). I found the post WW2 debates on what to do with everything most interesting. It is fascinating to think of art still to be found. Bottom line, my rating is more to do with my attention span and less to do with the quality of writing.
Cori North
Aug 20, 2012 Cori North rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Favorite bit, page 194-5: [in Leningrad]
"The guardians and their families would live for two long years in the basement below. Despite the cold and the terrible food, being museum people, they soon organized exhibitions from their holdings to maintain morale and to pass the long months of waiting."
Excellent history, and the documentary film made from this is So different, people should both read and watch!
Leila
Jun 11, 2008 Leila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book about the looting of art in Europe during WWII. I enjoyed reading this book because the subject matter is very interesting. However, it is very dense and filled with hundreds of names, places, dates, and details. If you're interested in art history and conservation, then this book is perfect for you!
Liz De Coster
Aug 07, 2008 Liz De Coster rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Really, really enjoyed this book. I found the chapters on illicit art trading in Holland, art dealing in the Vichy government, and the last three chapters on the resolution of the war and after to be especially engrossing.
Mary
Feb 20, 2009 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very informative, though it does tend to drag. All in all it's written very well and researched comprehensively; in my opinion this is the definitive work on WWII art plunder. If the topic is of interest to you, you're likely to enjoy reading the book.
Bettie☯
May 26, 2014 Bettie☯ marked it as wish-list  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
to hunt down with a double barreled book seeker lens
Tony
Apr 05, 2009 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
Nicholas, Lynn. THE RAPE OF EUROPA: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War. (1994). ****. This is a meticulously researched and documented study of the less-than-legal and outright theft of art works by members of the German Third Reich before and during the period its dominance of conquered countries. These include such diverse works as the treasures of Quedlinburg, the Trojan Gold, and the Amber Room at Catherine’s Palace. This is a dense book that attempts ...more
G Hodges
Apr 28, 2012 G Hodges rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good grief. For those of you who don't like or understand Art, you may want to read this to learn about the absolute passion it engenders. I was disgusted by the greed and art-lust of the Nazis and Allies before and during the war. And then I was stunned by the complications of 'repatriating' the art works. The greed and art-lust reared it's ugly head in new and profound ways.

As to the book itself, it was very dense. Well written, but dense. You have to have a real interest in the topic. If you
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Kent
Feb 16, 2016 Kent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An incredible history of the Nazi's extreme efforts to destroy any art they deemed degenerate and accompanied by the efforts of Hitler and Goering's minions to obtain by whatever means they could priceless art they deemed Germanic for their own collections as well as for the greater glory of Nazi Germany. The book documents the extraordinary efforts, successful and futile to save the cultural artifacts of the countries overrun by the Nazi, including the obliteration of the Polish culture as well ...more
Suzanne
Mar 05, 2011 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Art was very fashionable in the new regime. In October 1933, only months after becoming Chancellor, Hitler laid the cornerstone of the Haus der Deutschen Kunst in Munich, his first major public building project. Only later did the fact that the ceremonial hammer broke in his hands assume significance."

The Rape of Europa is a culmination of years worth of research about the systematic theft of Europe's greatest art treasures during World War II. The author, Lynn H. Nicholas, successfully takes
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Michael
This book was assigned summer reading when I was in high school. I was in the IB program, and we were going to discuss this book extensively in my social studies class. I hated it. It seemed so tedious and just packed through with boring facts. This is what happened to work of art A; this is what happened to work of art B; this is what happened to work of art C... On and on. So I didn't read much of it. I sort of skimmed. Really it probably couldn't even be called skimming. I was really afraid I ...more
Lysergius
Mar 17, 2016 Lysergius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The author chronicles both the theft of European art works by the Nazis and then the collection, storage return of the same works to their rightful owners at the end of the second world war.

The scale of the thefts and the the illicit dealing in artworks is mind boggling. It seems that the Nazis left no stone unturned in their search for works of art which suited the racial bias - never mind the destruction of the so called "decadent" works. Not only paintings, drawings, sculpture were stolen an
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Carol
Jan 10, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what a wealth of information about the history of the looting, sale, and hiding places of the great works of art in Europe during WW11. The mystery of many of these priceless objects continues today. Fascinating and in depth study.
Beth
Sep 05, 2009 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thorough examination of the Nazi looting of the art treasures of Europe including purges of 'degenerate art' (basically Picasso, Matisse, et al).
There is also a very interesting film covering the topic.
Becky
Dec 04, 2008 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never even thought about the art in Europe during World War II, but this book was so fascinating, the lengths people went to acquire and keep safe the art works is so amazing, even if you are not an art lover it is a must read.
Chris
Dec 07, 2009 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-wwii, art
Book is interesting, but at times it drags. It is strange how much went into saving art and how little into saving people.
Pak Sun Ng
Highly appealing topic. Very extensive facts. Recommended for really interested readers or academics.
Marcy Heller
Jul 27, 2010 Marcy Heller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well researched and helpful for understanding the breadth of the Nazi's systematic theft of European art.
Lucy
It's a bit slow-going and rather dense (so many names!) but it's really an interesting read, and discusses a lot of issues one might not otherwise ruminate on when thinking about WWII.
Aleksandr Voinov
Oct 12, 2012 Aleksandr Voinov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research, wwii
Excellent stuff in there. Copy-editing atrocious in places (mixing up "horde" and "hoard"? Honestly?), but enjoyed it and read it in less than a week.
Elizabeth
Nov 18, 2016 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the "leader" of books about the Nazis and art during World War II, and it was a wonderful read. I read it on an e-book on the treadmill which limited my use of any index or other supplemental material the book might have had. There were a lot of names, organizations, and acronyms, and I had a hard time keeping them straight. However, the book seemed thorough and well done, and Nicholas kept me interested all the way. I'm really glad I read it.
Caroline
Jun 15, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This book took me almost six months to get through. I can't remember if it was actually sub-divided into two parts, or if that's just the way the topics grouped themselves in my head, but I think that's how I will write the review.

The first portion of the book is about what happened to art in prior European wars as well as the Nazi's accumulation of degenerate and Jewish-owned art both prior to and during World War II. This part of the book was a bit of a mixed bag. Some of it I found quite movi
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« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities--From Italy's Tomb Raiders to the World's Greatest Museums
  • Old Masters, New World: America's Raid on Europe's Great Pictures
  • Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft
  • The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century
  • I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Forger
  • The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works of Art
  • Loot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World
  • Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece
  • Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum
  • The Art Detective: Fakes, Frauds, and Finds and the Search for Lost Treasures
  • The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy's Art During World War II
  • Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists
  • Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World
  • Rescuing Da Vinci
  • Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa
  • Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
  • The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft
  • The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van Meegeren
From Random House:

Lynn H. Nicholas was born in New London, CT, and educated in the U.S., England, and Spain. The Rape of Europa, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, has been translated into eight languages. It inspired an international movement to locate and repatriate works of art and other property confiscated and stolen by individuals and governments before and during World War II
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“It is a mistake to think that the national revolution is only political and economic. It is above all cultural. We stand in the first stormy phase of revolution.” 0 likes
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