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 Edward E. Adams Jr., Lieutenant Colonel (US Army) 

Adams_Robert Charles Morrison Photo Coll

Edward Everett Adams Jr. was born on December 5, 1904. He graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Washington, in 1923 before attending George Washington University and obtaining a bachelor of arts degree in 1929. Before World War II, he worked as a professional interior architect. He was associated with the design firm Steton and Adams Consulting Decorators in Washington, DC, during his career.


Captain Adams was an integral part of the postwar effort to return thousands of looted works of art and other cultural objects to the countries from which they had been stolen. He served in the Storage and Distribution Division of the US Army Quartermaster Corps for two years before transferring to the MFAA Subsection, US Forces European Theater (USFET) in August 1945. By early October 1945, he was attached to Headquarters, Eastern Military District—later the Office of Military Government for Bavaria—as director of the MFAA Special Evacuation Team. In this position, Adams coordinated the evacuation from Neuschwanstein Castle, near Füssen in the Bavarian Alps, of some six thousand cultural objects, many of which had been stolen from Jewish private collectors and art dealers in France. The objects stored at the castle included the Rothschild jewelry collection, silver from the David-Weill collection, and paintings by notable artists such as Rubens, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Fragonard, Watteau, and Canaletto. The detailed records of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR)—the task force commissioned by Adolf Hitler to plunder art, including works destined for his planned Führermuseum in Linz, Austria—were also found in Neuschwanstein.


Using a limited supply of ropes, wood planks, and manpower, Adams directed the evacuation of over six hundred crates down the castle’s steep staircases for just the first restitution shipment alone. The crates were then loaded into fifty-two trucks before being driven seven kilometers to twenty-one train cars. On October 25, 1945, this first trainload of looted objects departed Füssen for Paris escorted by French restitution officer Captain Hubert de Brye. Adams supervised two further shipments on November 24 and December 1 before undertaking a similar operation at Buxheim monastery repository. In the September 1946 issue of The Quartermaster Review, Major Adams detailed the challenges of the highly involved transports in his article “Looted Treasures Go Back to France.”


Adams entered the US Army Reserve as a commissioned officer, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, in October 1953. He retired from the US Army in January 1965 with the same rank. Edward Adams died in Southern Pines, North Carolina, on June 6, 1994. His papers, which include photographs from his service as a Monuments Man, are conserved in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

 Photo courtesy of the Robert Charles Morrison Photo Collection.

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