The Rape of Europa

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This article is about a 1994 book and the 2006 film version. For the painting, see The Rape of Europa (Titian). For The Greek mythological story, see Europa (mythology).
The Rape of Europa
The Rape of Europa Cover.jpg
Paperback book cover
Author Lynn H. Nicholas
Country United States
Language English
Subject Art theft, Nazi cultural, art conservation
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Knopf
Publication date
Pages 498
ISBN 0-679-40069-9 (Knopf edition), 0-679-75686-8 (Vintage Edition)
The Rape of Europa
theatrical poster
Directed by Richard Berge
Bonni Cohen
Nicole Newnham
Produced by Richard Berge
Bonni Cohen
Nicole Newnham
Robert M. Edsel (co-producer)
Written by Richard Berge
Bonni Cohen
Nicole Newnham
Narrated by Joan Allen
Cinematography Jon Shenk
Edited by Josh Peterson
Distributed by Menemsha Films
Release dates
United States: November 12, 2007
Running time
117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$1,300,000
Box office US$425,000

The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War is a book and a subsequent documentary film of somewhat related material.[1] The book by Lynn H. Nicholas explores the Nazi plunder of looted art treasures from occupied countries and the consequences. It covers a range of associated activities: Nazi appropriation and storage, patriotic concealment and smuggling during World War II, discoveries by the Allies, and the extraordinary tasks of preserving, tracking, and returning by the American Monuments officers and their colleagues.[2] Nicholas was awarded the Légion d'Honneur by France.[3]

Despite the regular accounts of impending destruction of art works, Nicholas also recounts a veneration for art on the part of people of all sides of the conflict, and what amounts to desperate and sometimes heroic activity. The villains, unsurprisingly, are often the Nazis, particularly Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring; however, the activities of Western art dealers are often questionable, as well.

The book is chronological, starting with scattered events in the decade before World War II. During this time, the Nazis used their influence and money to acquire artwork, while dealers and the public at large were anticipating war. Discussion of Nazi occupation starts in the third chapter. The middle of the book discusses Nazi plundering during the war, as well as Soviet efforts to safeguard their treasures. Midway through the book, the role of American and Allied organizations is introduced, including the frustratingly tentative planning and lack of resources they faced. The book follows the path of liberation as the Allies push back the Axis, while missing art is searched for and recovered art conserved. The book concludes with chapters about post war activities: resolving problems of ownership, coordinating the return of stolen art, and attempting to collect what was yet missing. Philosophically intriguing are issues of who ultimately owns works of art. Since this last phase of recovery and restitution is ongoing, this book has a bearing on current activities.

The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award for general non-fiction in 1994, and it was adapted for a film of the same name released in 2006. It was made for 1.3 million USD, with half underwritten by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the remainder underwritten by the National Endowment for the Arts, several other foundations, and one private investor.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "On the Trail of Lost Art: A Conversation with Lynn H. Nicholas". Humanities, September/October 2000, Volume 22/Number 3. Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  2. ^ Nicholas, Lynn H. (May 1995) [1994]. The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War. New York City: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-679-40069-1. OCLC 32531154. 
  3. ^ Nicholas awarded Légion d'Honneur
  4. ^ Stewart, Anna (2007-12-07). "The Rape of Europa: Oscar Documentary Shortlist". Variety. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 

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