Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
looting, war, art, major, men
This thesis examines the work done by the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) during World War Two. The ALIU was created as a subdivision of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), an American intelligence unit created during the war that was the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency. The ALIU men sought to collect and build on information regarding the Nazi “art looting machine”. As such, they bore a strong resemblance to the activities of the Museum and Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) commission (known as the “Monuments Men”). Thanks to a recent movie starting Matt Damon and George Clooney, the MFAA has become familiar to many Americans, and upon first examination, it appears that in comparison the ALIU had a much less exciting story. While the ALIU was not physically hunting art, they did the intelligence work that led to the apprehension and interrogations of major art dealers who had worked with Hitler. Though the majority of these men were able to go back to their trade following the war, the information collected by the ALIU assisted in the conviction of two major war criminals, Hermann Goering and Alfred Rosenberg. The ALIU was also able to undercover the major actions of the Linz organization (Hitler planned to build a museum to rival all other major European art centers in Linz Austria, this was where the majority of the looted art was going to be sent to following the end of the war) and bring the plans to light following the war. However, the longer-term impact would prove to be the information gathered during the war that would assist in the creation of databases and organizations dedicated to returning looted art for decades after the war. The investigation into this unit relied on the primary source documentation housed at the National Archive in College Park, Maryland. This collection was comprised of progress reports; financial records; the final reports distributed by the unit; and correspondence between the London and Washington branches of the ALIU. Because of the lack of secondary source material present at this time, the primary source was essential for this research. The day to day actions of the ALIU men was seen through their monthly reports and their long term accomplishments were tracked through their consolidated and detailed Interrogation Reports as well as the Final Report, which was written after the end of the war.
Farber, MaryKate, "The Art Looting Investigation Unit: Finding Their Place in World War Two History" (2015). Honors Theses. 298.