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

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,042 ratings  ·  139 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...more
Hardcover, 498 pages
Published April 12th 1994 by Knopf (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

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Michelle
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...more
John and Kris
I really enjoyed the enlightening Rape of Europa; it is now on my All-Time Favorites shelf for the following reasons:

1) For posing the question: Ultimately, what is art worth? Is it worth human life?

2) It was different look at the historic events of Europe in the 1930’s and 1940’s all while adding to my disgust, disbelief, and hatred of the Nazis. As a Band of Brothers character says: “The Nazis appear to be bad, very bad.”

3) I am fascinated by art and know almost nothing about its history, sty...more
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 horrifi...more
Melinda
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...more
Lobstergirl
Nov 24, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Pia Zadora
Shelves: art, european-history
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
Andy
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 estat...more
Erik
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 mas...more
Tara
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
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Dec 05, 2010 Susanna - Censored by GoodReads rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
Leila
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 DeCoster
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.
Suzanne
"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...more
Tony
Apr 05, 2009 Tony rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
G Hodges
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...more
Mary
This book is a detailed account of how Hitler, Goering, unscrupulous and greedy art dealers and the Nazi's managed to steal and/or destroy much of the art work, furniture, rugs, tapestries, jewelry etc in Europe while they fought to conquer everything in site…It is absolutely fascinating. She writes about the dedicated 'monuments men' who fought for the return of all 'stolen' artwork to their original owners… even those of Germany… although many would have liked to use the German treasures as re...more
Cori Sherman North
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!
Nancy
This is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read and will lead to more with the same themes.
I knew, of course, the Nazis of Hitler's Third Reich had stolen, seized and destroyed artwork throughout the conquered and allied parts of Europe, but never knew to what extent. This book lists art works found and lost in its highly researched, but easily read pages. It is a sickening story of greed as the Nazi hierarchy, and nearly everyone else with the chance, stole Europe's public and priv...more
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
This book is an excellent text book of the period of the Second World War and the treasures that were stolen during the same. I got weary with all the names thrown in that the Author assumes the reader knows. I was reading this book to learn more about Art and the book failed in this respect. I finally finished the book. It is an excellent reference book but not too readable to me.
Amanda
3.5

A thorough, highly detailed account on the movement, confiscation, and recovery of European masterworks before, during, and after World War II. Amazingly well-researched, the overall narrative is insightful and organized. The reader follows famous works of art and prominent figures in the art world as Nazi Germany rises to prominence and uses art as a tool for bargaining power, political legitimacy and domestic/international propaganda. Art plays a major role in Nazi rhetoric and principles....more
Megan Wohler
I'm sad to say, as another reviewer has mentioned, I did not make it very far in the book.
I took a great interest in the movie Monument Men and wanted to read more about the history surrounding the art "rape" of Europe. What I learned from my reading was very interesting, but just two chapters in to my reading, I gave up.
There are many different names of people, artists, places mentioned one after the other and I frequently found myself terribly lost and distracted.
The story was terribly hard...more
Mary
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.
Becky
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.
Carol
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
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.
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
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.
Marcy Heller
Very well researched and helpful for understanding the breadth of the Nazi's systematic theft of European art.
Kent
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
Pollopicu
Having read and loved "Monuments Men", By Robert Edsel in which Lynn H. Nicholas also collaborated in, along with several books on Peggy Guggenheim, I expected "The Rape of Europa" to fill in the gaps that I felt Edsel didn't satisfy. I'm not usually one to complain about details if they're presented with enough background to guide you through the text, especially since it was the primary reason why I wanted to read the book in the first place, however, in the "Rape of Europa", Nicholas seems to...more
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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...more
More about Lynn H. Nicholas...
Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web Bambini in guerra - I bambini europei nella rete nazista Rescuing Da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazies Stole Europe's Great Art America and Her Allies Recovered It

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