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The Monument Men

The strange thing about the way we live and learn is that we really don’t have closure to any one thing we are studying.  We don’t finish a chapter, take a test, write a report and get a grade.  We don’t just turn the page to a new topic.  Not really.  Even though we move on and ahead in our learning, what we already studied is not forgotten and finds a way to keep popping in reminding us that the world and its history is all interconnected.  

Saturday we took the girls and their friend to see The Monument Men as a way to bring our study of the Holocaust/WWII to a “close”.  Through this movie, the girls gained another layer of understanding of the Holocaust, of Hitler’s motives, the strategies of the countries involved in the war, of the importance of art, and of the human side of conflict.  

Some of the artwork recovered by this reconnaissance mission include:

  • The Mona Lisa
  • Jan van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece
  • Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper
  • Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges
  • Leonardo da Vinci’s Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani
  • Edouard Manet’s In The Conservatory
  • The Bust of Charlemagne
  • Johannes Vermeer’s The Astronomer
  • The original manuscript of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6
  • Rembrandt’s Self Portrait 1645
  • Botticelli’s Primavera

Artwork by Rubens, Picasso, Rembrandt, Degas, Pissaro, and many other masters, is still missing and being searched for today.  

To be completely honest, I never knew of this mission in WWII.  I never knew the great treasures of Europe were stollen, hidden and destroyed.  I did know that Jewish families art, china, and valuables were taken, but I never realized the magnitude of what took place as the Nazi forces pilfered their way through cities and countryside.  

This movie was to serve as the “close” to our Milkweed book study but it may just have opened up a new direction in which to journey....more art, more art history.  


  1. I have heard great things about this movie. Definitely going on my Netflix list for when it comes out on DVD.

    1. Diane, Someone my husband works with recommended this documentary on Netflix:
      I have not watched it yet, but plan to!

  2. I never knew this mission either. It is amazing what they DON'T teach us in school. I love the idea of studying these paintings and Art History. One thing we used to do when Keilee was little that I loved was I would print a coloring page of a famous painting. After she colored it I would show her the original. We would discuss why the artist used the colors he did. She still remembers doing those. :)

    1. I get angry when I realize how many things my girls are learning that I never knew about, or knew of but never studied in depth. History for me was dates, memorization and an occasional field trip. It was dull and dry and boring. Teaching history as it come up is fascinating, although I do think we need to go back to SOTW to add the world context to our learning. That is in my spring plan...

  3. "The strange thing about the way we live and learn is that we really don’t have closure to any one thing we are studying. We don’t finish a chapter, take a test, write a report and get a grade. We don’t just turn the page to a new topic. Not really. Even though we move on and ahead in our learning, what we already studied is not forgotten and finds a way to keep popping in reminding us that the world and its history is all interconnected."

    My thoughts exactly! :) After our study of Russia and all things Russian (as well as the Olympics) we keep happening upon other things that bring us back to the topic of Russia. The Museum of Russian Icons and Peter and the Wolf being performed in Worcester (just to name a couple)! It's wild how that keeps happening and such an amazing way to live and learn! Our girls sure are lucky to grow up this way!

    The subjects that were my least favorite in school (history, science and math) are proving to be some of my favorites to experience with my girls!

    1. We went to a three day Lenten mission at our church. Last night the topic was that suffering is not the fault of God but the fault of humanity and guess what topic came up.....the Holocaust. Later this spring I will sit down with the records that I have been keeping and write up what our central themes were and in history it was clearly WWII/Jewish History. I have a few more things I want to do and places I want to explore with the girls on this topic but because Lilah was starting to get very emotional about it, we are going to move on and spiral back. Life sure is amazing isn't it??

  4. We just watched this moving. I never knew about this mission either! I didn't love the movie, but the mission itself was fascinating. The part of the movie that I did love was that they searched all over for the statue of Mary & Jesus. It was beautiful!


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