Hitler's Art Book Found on Veteran's Bookshelf

Posted Dec 10, 2009 by Michael Bearak
A book of art for Hitler's "Fuhremuseum" has been found in the home of an 87-year-old WWII veteran in Ohio. Now after 64 years, it will be returning home.
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Photo courtesy US national archives
When John Pistone was serving as a soldier in the U.S. military during World War II, he was among the soldiers who came upon Adolf Hitler's home in the Bavarian Alps near the end of the war.
While going through the home Pistone noticed a table that had shelves under it and an album that was filled with photographs of paintings. Pistone thought it would make a nice souvenir.
Now, 64 years after the album was brought to the home of Pistone in Ohio, it has come to light that the book actually holds a great deal of significance - it was intended to be part of a museum. The book is part of a series compiled for Hitler featuring art he wanted for his "Fuhremuseum," a museum that was planned to be in Linz, Austria, Hitler's hometown.
A friend of Pistone did some research on the book only to find out that a group out of Dallas called, "Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art" has been involved in the restitution of two other albums that were part of a series documenting art stolen by Nazis from the Jews.
Its founder, Robert Edsel, traveled to Ohio to examine Pistone's album. Stamped on the spine is "Gemaldegalerie Linz" (Gemaldegalerie means picture gallery in German). The roman numerals for 13 were also stamped on it. This was the 13th book of a collection all intended for the museum in Linz.
German art historian Birgit Schwarz knew of the albums from a book she wrote, "Hilter's Museum." She was able to see the spine with the volume number and title from scanned photographs of the album. She recognized the first picture, that had been a gift to Hitler from Mussolini entitle, "Hans Makart's 'Pest in Florenz' (Plague of Florence).
While souvenir hunting was routine by soldiers during the war Thomas Kline a Washington-based lawyer who specializes in art restitution noted, "It's really important that as people go through their attics and they find the things that grandpa brought home, people are aware that something as simple as a book of pictures could have a cultural significance," Kline said.
Pistone, and the album, come home from the European battlefields. He finished college, got into the restaurant business and had 5 children. The album mostly stayed up on a shelf at his home.
After meeting with Edsel, he said that he knew it should be returned to Germany. "I just wanted to get it in the right hands," he said.
The album that traveled from the Bavarian Alps to Beachwood, Ohio will formally be returned to Germany in a ceremony at the U.S. State Department in January. Germany has 19 other albums that were found in Hilter's home in the Alps. It total they are part of a 31 album collection of works that were either going to be in the Linz museum or were being considered for it.