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As It Happened -

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(generated from captions) SBS World News Australia at 9:30 - Coming up in two rockets have been fired Israel says the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. by Palestinian militants from

after the armed wing of Hamas It comes to a 6-month truce with Israel. officially declared an end detention centre on Christmas Island The mothballed Howard-era of unauthorised boat arrivals. is re-opening to handle a surge and other Middle Eastern nationals A group of 37 Afghans to be processed. are on their way to the island of international approval And a chorus genocide is jailed for life. after the mastermind of Rwanda's The UN's criminal tribunal convicted Theoneste Bagosora former army colonel of about 800,000 people. for orchestrating the slaughter at 9:30. That and the rest of the day's news See you then. Tens of thousands of tanks, hundreds of thousands of soldiers of Europe from Hitler. were waiting to wrest mastery for the invasion, While the soldiers prepared of Europe's art treasures. American scholars were thinking

that precious cultural sites They were concerned during the Allied advance could be destroyed and the planned air attacks. an art conservation commission As a result, was set up in the United States. that the armed forces Its role was to ensure into account during operations. took Europe's cultural heritage This, however, required intelligence of every artwork. to verify the exact whereabouts near New York's Central Park, The Frick Art Reference Library,

specialising in art history. is a private research library it became the headquarters During the war, to protect Europe's art. of American efforts a unique wartime document, The library still holds

a work in several volumes the Frick Atlas, important art treasure in Europe. that listed every The information came from... in part, the guidebooks of our collection that are a very rich component the Frick Art Reference Library. here at

of Helen Clay Frick Some were the personal guidebooks for the purposes of documenting And some were acquired in our photo archive here. the photographs was very valuable And then, the photo archive itself of important works of art in researching the whereabouts that should be protected. the library's reading room On 15 July 1943, for the rest of the war. was closed to the public every major artwork in Europe - Its task now was to list an enormous challenge, by the Rockefeller Foundation. funded largely painstakingly followed up on The staff all the information they were given. on maps of countries and cities. The artworks were entered These were then photographed. more than 700 rather blurry maps In the end, to the United States Army. were handed over

from the Command Central I believe it was and used, that the maps were studied of the Allied bombs and therefore the targeting on a fairly high military level. was thought through forwarded to the pilots themselves And that was what was then in the bombers. the invasion of Normandy - Operation Overlord - began on 6 June 1944. Within a few days, a secure beachhead. the Allies had established were special units Among those who landed in Normandy and rescue works of art. whose only task was to search for held a gun or worn a uniform. Many of these men had never they were architects, art historians, In civilian life,

sculptors or photographers. to work as art detectives. Now the army commissioned them Walker Hancock and Robert Posey. Two such art detectives were As the basis for their searches, the Frick Art Reference Library. they used the maps prepared by they were looking for One of the most important works from St Bavo's Cathedral was Jan van Eyck's altarpiece in Ghent, Belgium. Seized by the Germans in 1942, unique in the world, it was a masterpiece and the Sistine Chapel. on a level with the Mona Lisa The hunt began. were frustrating. But the first weeks of detective work

passed through in northern France The villages and towns that they during the fighting. had been almost completely destroyed to be liberated was Caen. One of the first French cities was destroyed. Almost 70% of it How meaningful could it be in ruins like these? to search for artworks that they really had no choice. Hancock would later write the hopelessness of the situation They simply had to ignore to keep from despairing. and keep on going, As the Allies advanced, in Austria were stepped up. the transports to the Altaussee mine

In September 1944, the invasion of Normandy, three months after arrived at the mine. the Ghent Altarpiece While unpacking it, showing John the Baptist staff discovered that the panel had been damaged. had to be restored. Karl Sieber decided that the Baptist he had set up in the mine The panel was taken to a workshop repaired immediately. where the damage could be the precious wing of the altarpiece. Sieber worked for days to restore

in the so-called "minerals chamber", The altarpiece itself was stored deep inside the mountain. it was a moving occasion. For the art lovers on the staff, the American conservation officers Meanwhile, in France, hadn't made much progress.

their maps were more or less useless. The destruction was so great, they were looking for Many of the artworks or they had simply disappeared. had been destroyed, to help the conservation officers So the ordinary soldiers were asked in their search. but without much discrimination. They did so willingly - any landscape they might find They would report as if it were a Michelangelo. Walker Hancock was so surprised And that is why seemed to reflect some expertise. when he received a message that had been found in a house. The message said that a Breughel Hancock set off for it at once. The journey was not without danger. The house was quite close to the front line. It had seen fighting only the previous day and German shells might still fall at any time.

Walker Hancock would later write in his memoirs

"My Lord, what a war!" The trip proved well worthwhile. The painting was genuine - undoubtedly from the studio of Pieter Breughel the Elder. It had to be taken to safety as quickly as possible. This chance find was Walker Hancock's first great success. The search went on. There was still no sign of the great art collections, nor of the Ghent Altarpiece. By August 1944, the Allied armies had broken out of Normandy. With every passing day, they were getting closer to Paris. Allied bomber squadrons flying against German positions formed up over - of all places - Chambord Castle on the Loire.

Many works from the Louvre Museum had been stored there since 1940. There were repeated air battles over the castle. A British plane even crashed on the lawn. But the art treasures were undamaged. The conservation officers arrived at the castles along the Loire only a few days behind the advancing troops. Their job was also to protect the castles from marauding troops in their own army. After gruelling battles, troops liked to use the castles as their quarters, often with dire consequences for the furniture and the interior. But the conservation officers had little authority over the troops, so they resorted to some simple tricks. First, they put up "Off Limits" signs that purported to ban soldiers from entering. When this didn't help, they resorted to marking the buildings with white tape, the Allied symbol for mines. This proved to be the only really effective warning. Meanwhile, the Germans were preparing a last stand in Paris. Tanks were positioned throughout the city and trenches were dug. The German troops were instructed to expect house-to-house fighting and blanket air attacks.

In the heart of Paris was the Jeu de Paume Museum. For years, the Germans had used it as a storehouse for looted paintings. The remaining paintings now had to be sent to Germany before the Allies reached Paris. The Germans' activities had been observed for years by an extraordinary Frenchwoman - Rose Valland. The fact was that she was, in essence, a double agent because she was chronicling very assiduously every work of art that came in to the Jeu de Paume. Purporting to be doing this on behalf of the Nazis. And much of this, in preparation for works of art going to Hitler's museum in Linz. During the day, Rose Valland would work for the Germans. But at night, she worked for the French Resistance. At the end of July 1944, Rose Valland noticed how paintings were being packed into crates and taken to the railway station. In the transport papers for the paintings,

she found the freight cars' serial numbers. Well, she was very bright and very amusing and civilised. And... I remember her hatred of 'Nazidom' as an ideal of course was absolutely total. Throughout Paris, the Resistance was preparing acts of sabotage

and passive resistance to harass and unnerve the German troops. With the artworks at the railway station pending despatch to Germany, Rose Valland was able to pass on her information to the Resistance. Trains were queuing at the stations.

The train with the looted paintings had to wait as well.

A whole week went by. It would travel a few kilometres and then come to a halt again. There were mechanical problems.

The engine needed to be replaced. As the Allies approached Paris, an uprising broke out against the German Occupation. The German commander, General von Choltitz, disobeyed Hitler's orders to destroy Paris, and so saved the city. On August 25, the Germans surrendered to the insurgents and to the Allies, who had now reached the city centre. FRENCH SING LA MARSEILLAISE

The Americans and British had expected to find a city of starved people with rampant disease and social unrest. Quite the opposite was true. Paris bounced back to life immediately. The art conservation officers entered Paris with the troops. They hoped to get their first clues as to the whereabouts of the looted paintings. The key expert was acknowledged to be Rose Valland. However, in the eyes of the Americans, she was also a collaborator who had worked with the Germans. Could she be trusted? Rose was hesitant herself. Were the Americans sincere, she wondered, or were they planning to plunder the art in their turn and carry it off to the United States? The first meetings were inconclusive. But Rose became friendly with one of the conservation officers. They'd go to meals together, meet in cafes... and Rose became the Americans' most important source of information. We had a drawer full of... of everything. Yes, this went... to that monastery And this went way over there and this one went there. All of that kind of thing was what she achieved. Above all, the information provided by Rose Valland raised hopes that the lost artworks had not been destroyed

but were held in secret depots in Germany. The officers finally had a firm lead. What the Americans didn't know was that after the Soviet victory in Stalingrad,

Stalin had decided to confiscate German cultural assets as reparations for war damage. He planned to open a museum of looted art in Moscow. So-called "trophy commissions" were attached to the Red Army under the control of the Soviet secret police, the NKVD. One of these commissions was headed by Natalia Sokolova. Together with a small staff, for valuable paintings, she was to search Germany officers would be doing. just as the American conservation had begun. The race for looted artworks During that winter of 1944-45, lived in a state of emergency. Altaussee in the Austrian Alps being delivered every day - Paintings were still under very challenging conditions. Many of the paintings were damaged. was filling up. Space in the outer chambers to keep things under control. It grew more and more difficult In March 1945, into Germany, the Americans crossed the Rhine to where it had begun. carrying the war back from Rose Valland, According to information as a huge art depot in Siegen, a mine was serving not far from Cologne. The Americans reached it on Easter Sunday, 1945. Instead of works of art, the Americans found German civilians, hiding in the mountain. They were waiting fearfully for the victors to exact revenge. This was their first encounter with one of their conquerors. The tunnel went deeper and deeper into the mountain. Would other secrets come to light? In a second tunnel, hundreds of metres deep, the Americans made another find. from German museums, Over 600 paintings full of gold and silver jewellery. and countless crates looted from other countries. But there were no works of art

had to continue. The search for the Ghent Altarpiece was following another lead. Meanwhile, Natalia Sokolova to make for Dresden. She had been ordered countless valuable paintings Before the war, there had been in the famous Dresden Gallery. for his museum of looted art. Stalin now wanted them how much of this collection But it wasn't known had survived the ravages of war. reached the outskirts of Berlin. In April 1945, the Red Army beneath the Reich Chancellery. Hitler retreated into his bunker the final model of his Linz Museum. In February, he'd been given He now took it underground with him. While in the bunker, he wrote for private reasons "I never collected paintings "but only to establish a museum "in my home town of Linz on the Danube. "My greatest wish is that this legacy should be fulfilled." The Soviets and the Western Allies were both meeting fierce resistance once again. The Americans still didn't know the whereabouts of the most important Nazi art depot. But in Trier, Robert Posey finally got a decisive lead of the Linz Museum project. from a former member The Ghent Altarpiece, destined for Hitler's museum, as well as other looted artworks were to be found in Altaussee. the destruction of everything Hitler had ordered that could be of use to the enemy. Just before he committed suicide, to include all works of art. this order was extended to blow up the Altaussee mine. Planning went ahead were secretly placed in the chambers. Crates labelled "marble" of the most valuable works of art More than 8000 were about to be destroyed. from all over Europe the Austrian miners decided to act. That was when of art treasures They had heard rumours being stored in the mountain. they thought was trustworthy They sought out the one man and who had access to the tunnels, the art restorer, Karl Sieber. of the tunnel system. He knew every square metre He agreed to join their conspiracy. Together they decided that they would be the ones to blow up the tunnel, but in such a way as only to block the entrance to the chambers

and not to damage the artworks. On May 7, one day before Germany surrendered, Captain Posey arrived in the Salzkammergut. He didn't know of the plans to blow up the mine. before the Red Army. He only knew he had to get there the treasures in the mine. But the Soviets didn't know about

on 8 May, 1945 - The Red Army entered Dresden the day the war ended in Europe. and culture lay in ruins, The former centre of art of February 13. devastated by the great air raid soon began combing the rubble Natalia Sokolova's trophy commission for the city's most famous artworks. She would later write the scale of the destruction that when she saw of the corpses, and smelled the stench she almost fainted. looked like Dresden in May 1945. Many German cities for works of art was put aside. For a short time, the search Natalia discovered But within a few days, had been destroyed, that although the famous gallery had already been removed. its paintings And so her search began again. of the Dresden Gallery The masterpieces were said to be not far away, of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. in an abandoned mine the Soviets found themselves Like the Americans before them, exploring the catacombs of the Third Reich. Suddenly, deep in the mine, the torchlight fell on golden frames. almost all the famous paintings Natalia Sokolova had discovered of the Dresden Art Gallery.

painted in 1635. One was Rembrandt's Ganymede, Raphael's Sistine Madonna. Another sensational find: RUSSIAN DANCE MUSIC that the Red Army entered Dresden, On the same day Captain Posey arrived in Altaussee. through the blown-up entrance. It took him a day to dig a passage Then he found himself of the most secret art depot in the heart of the Third Reich. for Hitler's museum. He had found the art collection All of it was intact. Among the many hastily packed crates was the long-lost Ghent Altarpiece. almost without a scratch. It had survived

were found in Altaussee. About 8000 works were intended for Hitler's museum. Not all of them There were also paintings from museums in Berlin and Vienna.

The art conservation officers thought that their search was over. But the mountain still had some surprises in store.

With the end of the fighting, works of art were found all over Germany: in mines, in castles, even in cowsheds - and in railway freight cars, abandoned in the middle of nowhere. During the next few weeks, Robert Posey, Walker Hancock and their colleagues over 2000 such hiding places. would find

a warm welcome They didn't always receive from the keepers of these treasures. to gain access to secret depots. Sometimes they had to use force

proudly present their finds. But in the end, they could

countless paintings, sculptures, GIs also spirited

back to the United States. and items of porcelain or jewellery But that's another story. made some major finds The United States army on the Berghof in Berchtesgaden.

and many other Nazi bigwigs This was where Hitler, Goring had built themselves splendid houses with valuable paintings. and decorated them (Newsreel): Near Berchtesgaden, the 101st Airborne Division personal art collection, uncovers Hermann Goring's hidden in a subterranean chamber. are included. 1200 artworks worth untold billions The treasures will go back to rightful owners in pillaged nations. As soon as the Berchtesgaden and Altaussee sites

had been secured, the artworks were taken away - under conditions not much better than when they first arrived.

By June of 1945, the Americans had organised three depots for the orderly return of artworks. The most important was the Central Collecting Point in Munich. from Altaussee and other sites The first transports arrived there on June 17. almost 20,000 works of art By the end of the year, initially for an indefinite time. had been deposited in Munich - of the Central Collecting Point The staff settled down to work. Four American army personnel and over 100 German civilians cataloguing the paintings. were kept busy the problem of restitution remained. Despite their efforts, as to the former owners. There was rarely any information from an elderly lady. One day, Lane Faison received a visit Just a sweet lady Paris-style rocking chair. who wanted her 18th-century, this kind of chair. I mean,

we probably have 300 of those. And I said "Well, my dear lady, "There's no possible way of identifying yours. "And so you can't have that. "I mean, we can't sort of say 'take one.'" The Americans would not hand back artworks to individuals, however legitimate their claims might be. It was only at the Potsdam Conference in July that a solution was found. The works would be officially returned to the countries from which they had been stolen. It was then up to the respective governments to return them to legitimate museums or to private collectors. We never dealt with an individual. That's an important point to make. We dealt with the government. We sent things to France who sent them to the Louvre. We sent things to Belgium and it went to Brussels. The Ghent Altar that I keep hearing about... from a very, very important small town outside of Brussels, we didn't send it to Ghent. Everybody knew where it came from. No, you establish it to Brussels because it's the capital of the country. And it's their problem, not our problem. And that's the same all the way around. The Ghent Altarpiece was the first artwork to be returned. Accompanied by Captain Posey, it was flown home on 21 August 1945, to be back in Belgium for September 3, the first anniversary of the liberation of Brussels. Today the altarpiece rests once again in Ghent Cathedral, behind a high screen of bulletproof glass. Every year, it attracts tens of thousands of visitors.

Its return in 1945 was highly symbolic. It also marked the beginning of the greatest return of stolen art in history. In Soviet-occupied east Germany, things were different. From Dresden alone, 1700 paintings were taken to the Soviet Union. But the Soviets faced a dilemma. On the one hand, they saw the artworks as legitimate war reparations. On the other hand, once the Soviets themselves set up the German Democratic Republic in 1949, it made little sense to deprive a "fraternal socialist country" of its art. In 1955, a compromise was reached. Some of the looted paintings would be returned amid a blaze of propaganda. At the end of the war, the works that had been removed from the Louvre in August 1939 began to return. It took an entire year. Countless paintings had to be returned to their original places. In May 1946, the work was finally completed. The world's most famous art museum could reopen. The smaller Jeu de Paume Museum, where the Nazis had stored looted art during the war, was also re-opened in 1946. The heroine of the Jeu de Paume, Rose Valland, is remembered to this day. After the war, she was decorated by the Federal Republic of Germany, and she was awarded the French Legion d'honneur. Researchers still consult her directory of looted art. Here at the library, we are very proud to have one of the very few complete copies of this directory that she put together. Which is eight volumes and vast. Really to this day, researchers come to the Frick Art Reference Library to consult what Rose Valland had put together. Many of the artworks looted by the Nazis have still not been recovered. Some were destroyed, others hang in museums, in private collections, or in living rooms, with or without the knowledge of their rightful owners. The file on art looted by the Nazis remains open. Captions (c) SBS Australia 2008 This program is captioned live. Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip as Hamas declares an end to its cease-fire with Israel.

The Federal Government reopens the Christmas Island detention centre following a surge in boat arrivals. International applause for the conviction and sentencing of the mastermind of Rwanda's genocide. And, with Christmas festivities in full swing, we'll bust some myths such as the hair-of-the-dog hangover cure. Good evening. Neena Mairata with SBS World News Australia. The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad has greeted the end of a 6-month cease-fire by firing three rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Israel says they caused no damage or injuries. The cease-fire was terminated by the armed wing of the main militant group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip.

Their use of camouflage in urban areas gives them an air of Dad's Army, but Islamic Jihad is no Home Guard.