When Hitler made his final selection of the works of art he wanted to include in the Führermuseum, 31 albums known as “Gemäldegalerie Linz” albums, which contained exquisite photographs of these selected items, were created for him. The albums represented his ‘virtual museum’ and were among his most treasured possessions.
At war’s end 19 of these albums were found at Hitler’s home in Berchtesgaden by the Monuments Men as they began the process of deciphering Hitler and the Nazi’s art looting operation.
Linz Album XIII
At the end of World War II, U.S. soldiers entered Adolf Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps, and many of them, including Private John Pistone, picked up trinkets as a souvenir, proof that he had been inside. Pistone took an album filled with photographs of paintings, and for sixty-four years the album sat on a bookshelf in his home in Ohio; its significance unknown, until a friend of his contacted the Monuments Men Foundation.
Album XIII is particularly significant because it contains works by German 19th century painters so beloved by Hitler. Hans Makart’s ‘Pest in Florenz’ [Plague in Florence], for example, the first picture of album XIII, was received by Hitler as a gift from Mussolini.
This album, like the other still missing 11 albums, were thought to have been destroyed during the war. Scholars believed that their last known location was the Wolfsschanze or Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s headquarters on the eastern front. That this album was located at Berchtesgaden was quite a revelation and makes it increasingly likely others will eventually be found.
On January 22, 2010, the U.S. State Department hosted a ceremony marking the return of Gemäldegalerie Linz Album XIII. This great occasion also honored the army veteran who picked up the album at Berchtesgaden as a souvenir, Mr. John Pistone. Upon learning about the importance of the Album, he agreed to work through the Foundation to ensure its return to Germany.
Today, the Album is at the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin, together with the other 19 found at the end of the war.
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