NEW YORK, Nov 2 (Reuters) Two leather-bound photo albums documenting art looted by the Nazis during World War Two have been donated to the National Archives and Records Administration, the US agency said.
Originally thought to have been missing or destroyed, the albums were found with the heirs of a U.S. soldier stationed in Germany during the war. Robert Edsel of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art acquired them from the family and donated them to the National Archives.
The Monuments Men were historians, educators and museum personnel from 13 nations who tried to protect cultural treasures during the war, according to the group's Web site. They also worked to return stolen artwork.
US Archivist Allen Weinstein said the albums were ''one of the most significant finds related to Hitler's premeditated theft of art and other cultural treasures to be found since the Nuremberg trials.'' ''Documents such as these may play a role in helping victims recover their treasures,'' he said in a statement.
The albums were created by Hitler's Third Reich's Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, a unit initially organized in 1940 to collect political material in occupied countries. Later that year the unit was tasked with confiscating ''ownerless'' Jewish art collections.
The unit created nearly 100 albums to catalogue the art it looted and to inform the Nazi leaders of their progress, the National Archives said. The agency said it already has 39 volumes that were used as evidence at the trials of Nazi military and political leaders in Nuremberg, Germany, after World War Two.
The National Archives said it received ''Album 8'' from Edsel yesterday, and that ''Album 6'' would arrive at a later date.
Reuters SZ DB0920