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Monuments Men: On the Front Line to Save Europe's Art, 1942-1946

James Rorimer and Rose Valland

James J. Rorimer was one of the first officially appointed Monuments Men, arriving in Normandy in 1944. A noted expert on medieval art at the Metropolitan Museum, he appears on the original lists of art historians proposed for the project. After the war, Rorimer wrote his memoirs, published as Survival: The Salvage and Protection of Art in War (1950). 

Rose Valland, an art historian employed by the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris, risked her life to rescue stolen art. The Nazis used the Jeu de Paume to store plundered art. Valland was the only member of the museum’s original staff that the Nazis retained during their occupation of Paris. Valland spied on the Nazis, who did not realize that she spoke German. She kept detailed notes, lists, and photographs of stolen artwork.

Valland met James Rorimer after the liberation of Paris in 1944. She hesitated to trust him at first, but finally she gave him meticulous documentation of what the Nazis had stolen and where Rorimer could find it.

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