Skip to comments.In Moscow, a Proud Display of Spoils of War
Posted on 05/17/2005 12:23:52 PM PDT by neverdem
MOSCOW, May 16 - A week ago, on the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and President Vladimir V. Putin appeared together in Red Square in a symbolic nod to the historical reconciliation between Germany and Russia. But a few blocks away, a museum exhibition showed how the war's dark legacies continue to divide the two countries.
Shortly before Victory Day, as it is known here, the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts put on display 552 ancient works of art, including Greek bronzes, vases and amphorae, Etruscan figures, fragments of Roman wall paintings and Coptic amulets carved from bone, all meticulously restored.
None have been seen in public in more than 60 years. All are spoils of war, seized by Soviet troops from the ruins of Berlin in 1945 and carted back to Moscow. The exhibition - especially because of its timing - could easily be viewed as either a memorial to the ravages of war or as the taunt of a boastful victor.
"This can hardly be understood - not only by the German public," said Christina Weiss, Germany's culture minister, after the exhibition opened on April 26.
Russia and Germany have long sparred over the fate of tens of thousands of artworks that the Soviet Union captured and then claimed as compensation for the incalculable damage caused by the Nazi invasion in 1941. For the Germans, each new exhibition is a painful reminder of the artistic and cultural heritage that was lost.
Irina A. Antonova, the Pushkin's director, said the exhibition's critics should instead be grateful.
"I think this is proof of our good will," she said in her office, not far from the three rooms where the exhibition is on display. "We have carried out a colossal amount of work."
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Photographs by Pavel Smertin/Kommersant
Restored antiquities in "Archaeology of War." German art experts were not consulted for the exhibition.
Photographs by Pavel Smertin/Kommersant
A visitor at the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.
I hope you can enjoy the pics. So much for the solidarity of the left.
James Hill for The New York Times
The Pushkin Museum's "Archaeology of War" exhibition of works found in 1945 in a Berlin bunker.
It appears that NY Times articles must now be excerpted. It's been my experience using bugmenot.com once will provide further access to the same website. Just enter the URL into bugmenot.com, then get the username and password.
From time to time, Ill ping on noteworthy articles about politics, foreign and military affairs. FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.
"For the Germans, each new exhibition is a painful reminder of the artistic and cultural heritage that was lost"
What a nerve!!! given that most of these works of art were stolen by Germans to begin with.
This is an international problem, one that is fraught with politics and museum endowments and clever manipulators of stolen work, etc. The time has come when all "art" (and the definition has to be acceptable to all) should be returned to the descendants of those who created the art -or places where it was found and in many cases stolen, for example the Parthonon Marbles which are now housed in London.
Sad, but interesting.
If you check your history, you will see that Russia invaded Poland the day after Germany, and occupied half of Poland. Russia has yet to give Poland this land back, instead giving Poland parts of former East Prussia. So, in factm, Russia and Germany started WWII by invading Poland, but in reality the war was not started by Germany, but by the French government who demanded such ridiculous reparations after World War I that the Germans had to fight again. And if it weren't for the communists in office during WWII, we would have attacked Russia immediately after defeating the Germans.
History is taught and kept by liberals who want to protect their fellow socialists, so we never hear about Russian war-crimes.
I disagree. Many antiquities were found because of anthropological interest by the collectors that was not shared by the "descendants" of that art's creators. The material might otherwise have remained unfound, or perhaps been destroyed by other activities. Some works have been restored and/or preserved for hundreds of years that otherwise would have been lost forever due to neglect, war, vandalism, etc. Should the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco return to "China" (which one?) works that it has held safely for generations (and displayed for the edification of all) when during that time the Communist dictators of China have deliberately destroyed countless priceless artifacts in the name of "Cultural Revolution"? I think not!
It's amazing how name "cultures" want their "art" back, once they realize it now has value. Thanks for a common sense post.
Germany attacked Poland on September 1, 1939 [Case White]. Russia invaded eastern Poland on September 17th, after the Germans had destroyed the Polish Army above the regimental level.
The war was not started by French Reparations. The French demand for reparations were based on the German Demand for reparations after the previous Franco-Prussian war.
Unless of course you believe that when Germany does it, it is ok, and when France does it, it must be wrong.
Germanys murderous invasion of Poland can not be justified by something that happened years before, and in fact can not be justified by anything.
In fact we have found that Muslim governments seek to destroy all evidence of culture that predates the Muslim take over. Witness the destruction of Hindu and buddhist temples in India, the destruction of the Buddhist statues in Afganistan, the building of the Al Asqua mosque on the rumored site of the temple (ha the joke was on them, the temple was further north, and the Al Asqua mosque is actually built on the site of the Roman stables. The foundation of the mosque is horse piss!)
This is true of many works of art in many fields, and is one of my objections to the endless extensions of copyright. Some works exist today only because someone besides the original creator kept copies (in some cases recopying works that would otherwise have deteriorated beyond use).
If you want on or off the Art Ping list, let me know. Sam Cree is away for a week or two, so Liz and I have the big list.
Is that a photo of "Iron Eyes" Cody? Before Cody famously shed a tear on the iconic anti-littering P.S.A., he was a longtime portrayer of Indian characters in film Westerns. He amassed a large collection of authentic Indian costumes, weapons, and other items over the course of his Hollywood career. He had a small side business renting out same to film productions as props. Before that, Cody had grown up in South Louisiana, the son of poor Italian immigrant shopkeepers. His life is an excellent example of how persons of one culture can act to preserve and honor the legacy of another culture. Multi-culti extremists would do well to take note of his remarkable life. God bless America!
That's Mr. Espera DeCorti, born in Kaplan, LA, a few miles from where I sit right now.
Any art that can be shown to be safely housed anywhere and can be proved that it was stolen deserves to be sent back. In the case of Germany and its wish to get back the ancient artifacts taken by the Bolsheviks I would say PROVE that these objects - Coptic amulets, ancient Etruscan and Greek objects - had legitimately found their way into German museums, and then negotiate their return.
Italy returned the Aksum Obelisk recently and has gained lots of respect for doing so. Bravo to Berloscuni.
Now for a specfic example: There is no question in my mind that the Parthenon Marbles should be returned by the Brits. Dittoes for the Germans returning things to the place where they more than likely stolen. The main point is that as much as posible art and artifacts should be viewed in places where they were created in places where the descendants of those who created them still exist.
Fine. Give the Robert E. Lee family their beautiful house back.
Bump to that.
If you're going to "give back" properties to people who sold them, usually under duress, I'd like my '66 Mustang back. It was a work of art. And I was very much under duress at the time.
You're right, it would beyond silly to try to give historic conquests back to the cultures who 'lost' them. Especially when so many didn't lose them at all, and it'd be a lawyer's dream determining who 'deserves' them.
But if you're all for giving historic conquests back, Lee's mansion has to be on the list.