Hitler's Last Hostages: Book summary and reviews of Hitler's Last Hostages by Mary M. Lane

Hitler's Last Hostages

Looted Art and the Soul of the Third Reich

by Mary M. Lane

Hitler's Last Hostages by Mary M. Lane X
Hitler's Last Hostages by Mary M. Lane
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Book Summary

The riveting story of Hitler's obsession with art, how it fueled his vision of a purified Nazi state, and the fate of the artwork that was hidden, stolen, or destroyed to "cleanse" German culture.

Nazism ascended not by brute force but by cultural tyranny. Weimar Germany was a society in turmoil, and Hitler's rise to power was achieved not only by harnessing the military but also by restricting artistic expression. Hitler, an artist himself, promised the dejected citizens of post-war Germany a purified Reich, purged of "degenerate" influences.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, he removed so-called "degenerate" art from German society and promoted artists whom he considered the embodiment of the "Aryan ideal." Artists who had weaponized culture to resist inequality and oppression fled the country. The government purged museums. Thousands of great artworks disappeared--and only a fraction of them were rediscovered by the Allied Monuments Men after World War II.

In 2013, the German government confiscated roughly 1,300 works by Henri Matisse, George Grosz, Claude Monet, and other masters from the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive son of one of Hitler's primary art dealers. For two years, the government kept the discovery a secret. This is the definitive story of those works of art, their theft, and their long, agonizing restitution: the last hostages of Hitler.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A gripping, original contribution to a still-unresolved Nazi crime." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"The revelatory saga of a monumental Nazi art theft and all the perpetrators, from Hitler to the modern museum directors who ignored the glaring signs of looted art. This riveting unraveling of one of the most outrageous and monumental chapters in stolen art is a must-read art crime chronicle." - Anne-Marie O'Connor, author of The Lady in Gold

"Mary M. Lane skillfully chronicles the saga of a huge trove of art that had seemingly disappeared during World War II and the Holocaust. It's a gripping tale punctuated by plunder, profiteering, and self-serving rationalizations. Most chillingly, the outright deceptions continued long after the collapse of Hitler's Third Reich." - Andrew Nagorski, author of 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War and Hitlerland

"In this valuable study of an important piece of history, Mary M. Lane tells a shocking story of theft, horror, and lack of redemption." - Laurence Rees, author of Auschwitz and The Holocaust: A New History

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Author Information

Mary M. Lane

Mary M. Lane (b. 1987) is a nonfiction writer and journalist specializing in Western art, Western European history, and anti-Semitism. Lane received one of five Fulbright Journalism Scholarships at 22 years old, gained international recognition as the chief European art reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and published numerous exclusive Page One articles on the art trove of Hildebrand Gurlitt. Since leaving the Journal, Lane has been a European art contributor for the New York Times. She splits her time between Berlin and Virginia.

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