Harry Ettlinger is one of six surviving “Monuments Men,” whose art-saving exploits were recently featured in the film of the same title. Ettlinger is in the black and white photo, too: he’s the a 19-year-old GI (right) who, as a native German speaker, had been assigned to the Monuments Men.
The black and white photo was taken in one of the salt mines where the Nazis hid their stolen art. Ettlinger is looking a self-portrait of Rembrandt—a painting that was from his hometown of Karlsruhe, Germany. Ettlinger had never seen it when he lived there as a child—Jews were forbidden to enter the museum.
Ettlinger, along with author Robert Edsel, was a guest at the National Archives this afternoon to mark the donation of Hitler album number 6 to the National Archives.
This album was used by the Nazis to keep track of the art they stole, and was taken by an American soldier as a souvenir when he went into Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps. The soldier’s nephew inherited the album, but wasn’t aware of its significance until he met with Edsel, founder of the Monuments Men Foundation.
The National Archives also has custody of the 39 original albums discovered at the Castle of Neuschwanstein. The albums were used as evidence in the Nuremberg trials.
You can read more about the Monuments Men here: http://blogs.archives.gov/TextMessage/tag/monuments-men/