The Rape of Europa DVD Review
By Kam Williams
Documentary Now on DVD Details Nazi Plundering of Art during WWIIBesides World War II and the Holocaust, the Nazi legacy includes a systematic looting of Europe's art treasures as its armies swept across the continent. Ostensibly fueled by a combination of greed and Aryan chauvinism, the 12-year campaign resulted in the deliberate destruction or disappearance of masterpieces by everyone from Rembrandt to Gustav Klimt, and on a scale previously unknown.
According to co-writers/directors Bonni Cohen, Nicole Newnham and Richard Berge, the decision to plunder came from the top, having its roots in Adolph Hitler's own failures as an art student. Regardless of the source of the Fuhrer's sick motivations, the upshot is that his orders triggered a mass-scale cultural devastation which curators and collectors are still attempting to undo to this day. For much of the stolen art initially hidden in salt mines and German government storerooms managed to survive the war only to fall into the hands of unscrupulous dealers who sold the pieces on the black market.
The Rape of Europa is a most informative expose' chronicling the Herculean effort to document exactly just what happened to the art stolen from seven occupied countries during the Third Reich's reign of terror. Narrated by Joan Allen, the picture is based on Lynn Nicholas' encyclopedic, 500+ page opus of the same name, an exhaustive account of the ongoing endeavor by experts not only to find and recover lost art items, but to discern their provenance in order to be able to return them to their rightful owners.
A fascinating history lesson about a generally-overshadowed aspect of the Second World War.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
In English, Russian, Polish, French, Italian and German with subtitles.
Running time: 117 minutes
Studio: Menemsha Films
DVD Extras: "Behind the Scenes" featurette.
To see a trailer for The Rape of Europa,
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