The Rape of Europa Reviews

Page 1 of 9
Super Reviewer
January 25, 2014
Very informative documentary about the theft of art by Nazis and the real Monuments Men. (And it will fill in some of the information gaps in Clooney's Monuments Men film.) Highly recommended.
Beefy
Super Reviewer
May 21, 2009
Fascinating look at the Nazi's treatment of art during the WW2 period.
rubystevens
Super Reviewer
November 24, 2008
stunning. the story of how the nazis smashed and looted the art treasures of europe and the struggle to find and restore them.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ September 29, 2009
"The Rape of Europa" is a chillingly effective documentary that details the Nazi looting of art treasures across Europe during World War II. The film does a very good job with the help of rare footage in showing the Holocaust from another angle as the Nazis tried to rewrite history by erasing whole peoples and cultures before trying to make over Europe in their own image with their brand of evil ideology. However, playing up the whole failed artist angle is a misguided choice since Hitler was such a malignant person, he would see menace behind every decision, right or wrong. Anyway, the Nazis were less interested in art, than in anything of value which was not nailed down. By contrast, there were the unsung heroes who hid the masterpieces and the Monument Men who helped the Allies preserve as much of old Europe as possible while liberating countries. While all of this is fascinating, what the documentary could have used is more focus on the present day recovery efforts. Most art works were recovered but a lot are still missing, presumed lost forever. And even with the found art, there are complex questions concerning true ownership.
Super Reviewer
July 5, 2012
A great documentary on the history of artwork and where it travelled throughout Europe during the war thanks in no small part to the maniacal viewpoint of one Adolf Hitler. A nice companion piece to Burt Lancaster's The Train.
Dracula787
Super Reviewer
December 22, 2008
A recent documentary about the pillaging of art by the Nazis during World War II. This was shortlisted for Best Documentary last year, and I think it was worthy. The film goes in chronological order starting with Germanies internal censorship, to what they did in Poland, and hen France (most of the stuff in The Louvre was saved), and finally Russia. The film then examines the challenges that the allies faced in trying to fight the Nazis without getting cultural masterpieces caught in the crossfire, as well as the activities of an allied task force dedicated to recovering and returning works of art. The film works first as a good history lesson and secondly as a philosophical discussion about who ultimately ?owns? priceless artwork, and whether those fighting the war should?ve been more careful about saving art.
March 22, 2008
A very well made and informative documentary, although I believe that the amount of information of this piece required it to be a series documentary, as in a minimum of seven chapters/episodes (one per country) so that the information wouldn't be touched upon so vaguely.

Anyone interested will find the documentary a launching point towards further personal research.
February 14, 2012
2 September, 1939, Rape of Europa, World War II has started. Nearly all the countries in Europe are at war with Nazi Germany and their allies. USA has not entered and is staying out. The countries have that have fought and the countries that have stayed neutral are at both on the brink. One is on the brink of losing something very vital while the other is on the brink from disappearing. The film Rape of Europa captures this with art being very important and valuable to not only the people, but humanity. I was awed and struck by this documentary because it capture how real and deeper the war affected the lives of people in mostly Europe. This documentary only focuses on Europe and not in the Pacific. Identities, histories, and meaning are presented in the different styles of art that were made in country as they became affected in the war. With Nazi troops conquering nearly all of Europe, we see footage and hear stories how the Nazis were not only murderers, but were thieves, all concocted by the madness of Adolph Hitler. It is really something how Hitler orders and used propaganda to wipe certain humanity and culture from the face of the earth while having a number of people, mostly Jews, murdered. I was stricken with such surprise how the film captures the deepness of the people affected by the war. The film explores the controversies surrounding certain art and countries and how some wounds are still there. The case about Russia and the paintings the looted after achieving victory is certainly most interesting. I will say Rape of Europa is not only mesmerizing, but a very important film to watch. It is definitely unforgettable.
½ September 28, 2009
September 2009 - A fascinating story of the plunder of the art during the World War II. It is more fascinating to see how emotional we can be regarding these objects and how important they are for our cultures.
½ August 12, 2009
This doc takes a very interesting perspective on WW2. Frankly, Hitler did most of it because of his love for art. We all know he was a failed artist. And the movie Max, though fictional, is a brilliant movie anyone reading this should see as long as you understand the real background of WW2. With this movie, it is probably better if you don?t know the background of WW2, because if you do, you can?t help but think that they are making such a big deal about the crimes to the artistic world when this war slaughtered millions of millions. Art may have been a contributing factor, but it doesn?t really want to make the hate and prejudice a major factor.

I will admit, maybe it is because I am part German, was born in Germany, but never been back since kiddietime, that I am always fascinated with the war. And Europe in general. And, I love art. So I was expecting a lot of this movie. But this turns out to be a very basic walk-through of their opinion on matters backed up by selected facts and giving us the routine. It lacked excitement.
Super Reviewer
January 25, 2014
Very informative documentary about the theft of art by Nazis and the real Monuments Men. (And it will fill in some of the information gaps in Clooney's Monuments Men film.) Highly recommended.
March 30, 2014
This is an amazing documentary how the Nazis looted art throughout Europe. The documetnary is well edited and beautifly narrated by Joan Allen. It describes in great detail how famous works of art were stolen from museums and wealthy jewish families throughout Europe. If you love art lover and history this film is a must see. Sadly, most people in the theatre were in their 70's or 80's. This movie should be seen by younger generations to learn and understand history. Great interviews, pictures, and storytelling.
February 6, 2014
"The Rape of Europa" is a must see if you love art and history. I'd say skip the Clooney film "Monuments Men" and watch this one instead.
March 2, 2013
The Rape of Europa is a fascinating documentary that tells of the story of the theft, destruction, and in some cases saving of art during World War II. Narrated by Joan Allen the film takes you through the Nazi plundering of paintings in Poland, France and other countries (especially by Nazi art collectors like Hitler and Goering) to the efforts by citizenry to save museum pieces in Paris and Leningrad, to the unfortunate destruction of Renaissance architectural wonders during allied bombings in Italy and the German army demolishing various important Russian structures in the east. It also goes into efforts that are still going on to track down pieces since missing, and tells of the work to give back personal effects to families of Jews, items the Nazis stole without thinking twice from people they considered inhuman.
All this is told with a delicate balancing act, reminding the viewer of the far greater tragedy of the war: the tens of millions of lives lost, most of them civilians. The misfortune of art during the war is not even close to that level of tragedy, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored. Art is part of one's culture and means a lot to great number of people. This is a story that deserves to be told, and though maybe this documentary goes in a few too many directions I found it quite interesting to see this perspective of the War that people rarely talk about.
April 11, 2012
Absolutely fascinating. In my top 5 docs.
½ January 14, 2012
For me, the more interesting part of an already very good documentary, was the shifting in the last 45 minutes to the Monuments Men.
½ July 9, 2011
not seein how the title fits in
½ March 4, 2011
Really a fantastic telling of the looting of works of art during WWII. Gripping and chilling, it uncovers an widely unknown aspect of the war.
May 28, 2010
SCREENED AT THE 2007 SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Written, produced, and directed by Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen, and Nicole Newnham and based on Lynn H. Nicholas' award-winning book of the same name, [i]The Rape of Europa[/i] exhaustively documents Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime?s theft of classical art before and during World War II, Allied policies toward the preservation of cultural treasures, the so-called ?Monuments Men,? members of the armed forces assigned to catalogue recovered art, restore damaged art, and return stolen art to rightful owners or their heirs. [i]The Rape of Europa[/i] also explores, albeit tangentially, the complex legal and ethical issues surrounding the ownership of stolen art that now sits in state or national museums. Even for a two-hour documentary, covering that much history in any detail is a daunting task, one that [i]The Rape of Europa[/i] mostly achieves at the cost of focusing insufficiently on some aspects or issues connected to stolen and recovered art.

Not surprisingly, [i]The Rape of Europa[/i] begins by discussing Adolf Hitler, a failed artist rejected by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts in 1907, who eventually developed a deep-seated hatred of modern art. When Hitler and the Nazis obtained political power in the early 1930s in Germany, they embarked on a campaign to purge and purify German art and culture from what Hitler called ?degenerate art,? modern, non-representational art. German museums were forced of divest themselves of more than 16,000 pieces of fine art, including paintings and sculptures. Private collectors were also forced to remove modern art from their collections. Jewish families fared worse, especially after the war began and the concentration camps opened. Once deported to concentration camps, Jewish families lost title to their art collections (under the odious legal theory that they had ?abandoned? their collections).

Not content to censor modern art, Hitler applied his usual megalomania to collecting classical art from Germany, Austria, and as Nazi Germany rolled through Eastern Europe in the early days of World War II, appropriating art for his collection he deemed worthy (Western European artists). Hitler chose Linz, Austria, his adopted city, as the site for a new imperial city. Under the direction of Hitler?s architect, Albert Speer, the ?new? Linz would include the world?s largest museum. Not surprisingly, Poland, the first country invaded and occupied by Hitler, lost centuries-old art treasures to Hitler?s mania for collecting. Art deemed purely ?Slavic? (Poles, as Slavs, were considered an inferior race by Hitler and the Nazis) was destroyed, including architectural landmarks such as the Royal Castle, the home of the Polish Parliament, in Warsaw. Art in Krakow faired better, if only because Hitler saw Krakow as a ?Western,? Germanic, city and not an Eastern, Slav one. The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg fared better, with more than half of its collection safely transported 1,000 miles away to Siberia before the German Army began its 900-day siege.

In France, curators and art historians planned for the inevitable evacuation of the major art pieces from the Louvre Museum in Paris. Spanning eight miles and containing more than 400,000 pieces of art, the Louvre was (and is) the premier museum in Europe. Moving so many pieces of art, including fragile paintings, involved a concentrated effort that became a citywide effort to save France?s cultural heritage from the Nazis. The art was shipped to various locations, mostly chateaus in Southern France, often with art historians or curators in tow to help maintain each work of art in as undamaged as possible. Luckily, the Nazis decided not to pursue the missing art, under the expectation that doing so would cause a costly rebellion by the French. That and the German Army wanted to maintain Paris as a favorite vacation spot for its senior officers.

[i]The Rape of Europa[/i] then looks at the other side of the war from the Allied Perspective. Members of the newly created National Art Gallery in Washington, D.C., petitioned President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) to institute policies to preserve Europe?s cultural and artistic heritage. For example, after the Allies invaded Italy and began moving north, the decision not to bomb Monte Cassino, a centuries-old monastery turned into a German fortress, resulted in a costly battle. After a prolonged stalemate, the Allies were forced to bomb the monastery, at great loss. The Allies did decide, however, not to bomb Florence, a city known for its Renaissance-era buildings, sculptures, and other works of art. Instead, the Allies focused on the railway lines, specifically a train yard. Unfortunately, the Germans destroyed several Renaissance-era bridges when they retreated north.

Pressed by the National Art Gallery, FDR agreed to add the so-called ?Monuments Men? to army units. These Monuments Men usually had backgrounds in art or cultural restoration. The Monuments Men focused primarily on preserving whatever they could find in he newly freed cities of Western Europe. They worked through 1951 to collect, catalogue, restore, and return works of art to their rightful owners or their heirs. From Herman Goering?s mountain lodge, the Monuments Men retrieved more than 2,000 works of art that Goering had stolen as Hitler?s second in command and commander of the Luftwaffe, the German air force. The Soviet Union was less forgiving, however, sending out Soviet Trophy Brigades into the newly conquered territories and sending works of art back to the Soviet Union. Ownership of at least some pieces is still in dispute.

[i]The Rape of Europa[/i] briefly closes with a story introduced early on, the lengthy legal battle over title of four paintings by Gustav Klimt, including ?Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer? by her niece. Held by an Austrian museum for more than sixty years, an Austrian panel ultimately decided to return the paintings to Adele?s niece. As [i]The Rape of Europa[/i] makes clear, however, the legal battle over the Klimt paintings was only one of many that are still unresolved and likely to remain unresolved for the near future. All told, [i]The Rape of Europa[/i] offers an illuminating, if compressed, tour through a little known aspect of the Second World War. For that alone, it?s worth seeing, especially as a companion piece to author Lynn H, Nicholas? book of the same name.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ September 29, 2009
"The Rape of Europa" is a chillingly effective documentary that details the Nazi looting of art treasures across Europe during World War II. The film does a very good job with the help of rare footage in showing the Holocaust from another angle as the Nazis tried to rewrite history by erasing whole peoples and cultures before trying to make over Europe in their own image with their brand of evil ideology. However, playing up the whole failed artist angle is a misguided choice since Hitler was such a malignant person, he would see menace behind every decision, right or wrong. Anyway, the Nazis were less interested in art, than in anything of value which was not nailed down. By contrast, there were the unsung heroes who hid the masterpieces and the Monument Men who helped the Allies preserve as much of old Europe as possible while liberating countries. While all of this is fascinating, what the documentary could have used is more focus on the present day recovery efforts. Most art works were recovered but a lot are still missing, presumed lost forever. And even with the found art, there are complex questions concerning true ownership.
Page 1 of 9