Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) Albums
brown leather-bound photograph album
13.50 x 11.75 in. (34.29 x 29.85 cm); 3 in. (7.62 cm) thick;
8 lbs. (3.63 kg)
The Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) was established in 1940 under the administration of prominent Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg. It was one of the main Nazi agencies engaged in the theft of cultural treasures in occupied countries, with most of its activities in France, and some engagement in the Netherlands and Belgium as well. The ERR targeted the collections of Jews and other adversaries who the Nazis had stripped of their property rights.
The objects stolen by the ERR were processed by its staff, who inventoried and assigned alphanumeric designators to each item and catalogued their confiscated holdings. In addition to written records, the ERR photographed each object. These photographs were used to produce brown, leather-bound albums. Each page of the album contained a photograph of one stolen object and featured its alphanumeric code, which consisted of a letter representing the owner from which it was stolen followed by a number. The sequential numbering indicated how many objects from that collection had been taken.
The albums were specifically intended for Hitler to keep him apprised of the ERR’s progress, most notably in France. According to noted historian Dr. Birgit Schwarz, once Hitler received the first set of the albums on his birthday in April 1943, he issued a directive that incorporated the confiscated items into the Special Commission Linz. This organization oversaw building the collection for the Führermuseum, an unrealized museum complex Hitler planned to build in his hometown of Linz, Austria, as well as the distribution of art to regional museums throughout the Reich. Hitler decided which items would be placed in certain museums.
In May 1945, thirty-nine original ERR albums were discovered by the Americans at Neuschwanstein Castle along with other records, including card files and photographs, that documented the ERR’s activities. These albums and records were subsequently taken to the Munich Central Collecting Point, where they were used by the Monuments Men to assist in the restitution process. In late 1945, these albums were submitted as evidence at the Nuremberg Trials to document the massive Nazi looting operations.
When personnel of the Office of Strategic Services’ Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) interrogated various ERR members after the war, they concluded that more albums most likely existed, but it was believed that they may have been destroyed during the latter days of the war. However, since 2007, the Monuments Men Foundation has recovered four more: ERR Albums: 6, 7, 8 and 15. These were taken as souvenirs from the Berghof at Berchtesgaden by members of the 501st Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division and the 989th Field Artillery Battalion.
Today, all forty-three known ERR photo albums are property of the United States National Archives.