Abstract

Evelyn Tucker, a Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFA&A) representative, worked in the US military–occupied zone of Austria, investigating and restituting Nazi-plundered, Austrian-owned cultural property between 1946 and 1949. Her experiences remain hidden despite passing references in the scholarship covering Allied restitution of Nazi-looted, Jewish-owned cultural property, as the literature focuses on postwar Germany, not Austria. She attempted to openly criticize the US Army for the thefts by blaming the Army’s appalling behavior on its lack of understanding US restitution efforts. However, she was incapable of stopping this gross negligence, and her condemnation of the Army led to her dismissal. I argue that contentious political divisions within the Allies’ policymaking in occupied Austria stalled Tucker’s restitution investigations, thus her work deserves critical investigation. Tucker defied expectations, and a thoughtful analysis of her contributions to the restitution process helps us gain a clearer appreciation of the political and cultural chaos of occupied Austria. In relationship to that gap, my archival research sheds light on the underappreciated role of Eve Tucker in her fight for rightful restitution.

Eve Tucker’s colleague cautioned her in early 1948 to not discuss ongoing restitution efforts in Europe as it was political dynamite between the Allied occupying forces and the newly forming Austrian and German governments. Tucker, an art historian from the University of Miami and member of the Women’s Army Corps, became a Fine Arts representative in 1946 and worked in US military–occupied Austria until 1949, investigating and restituting thousands of stolen art objects. Described as tough and highly capable by her Fine Arts colleagues, she exuded determination and self-confidence that prompted reluctant admiration and annoyance from her military colleagues.1

Tucker was a reformer of restitution policy in occupied Austria. She repeatedly described herself as “probably no single employee in [Austria] who has fought so consistently as I to protect [the military occupiers] and the US from adverse criticism.”2 In contrast, her Austrian colleagues found Tucker to be fair and objective when “clearing up a great many tangled cases” and she presented her opinions on restitution with “a rare combination of . . . male efficiency and feminine tact.”3 She was efficient. She was orderly. She was aware of her American and Austrian colleagues’ positions on each side of restitution issues. She may have exuded some naivete in her reports regarding the political situations; however, she fought for legal restitution policy and rightful ownership while putting her own position in jeopardy.

Tucker’s strong opinions regarding restitution presented in her field reports conflicted with those of the military. Tucker openly criticized the US Army for thefts of recovered Nazi-looted artworks by blaming the Army’s behaviors on its lack of understanding of restitution with the work and for never coordinating their recovery efforts between the German and Austrian zones. She observed Army personnel illegally sending home both non-Austrian and Austrian cultural property from the zone’s warehouse. However, she was incapable of stopping this gross negligence.

Tucker championed the return of Austria’s cultural property; thus, her story provides a different perspective of US restitution efforts in postwar history. As an activist of restitution, she worked around perceived and real roadblocks as she pressed for resolution. I argue that contentious political divisions within the Allies’ policymaking in occupied Austria stalled Tucker’s restitution investigations due to the military’s failure to create a purposeful restitution policy for both occupation zones. Tucker became determined to stop the thefts and misuse of Austrian cultural property by US Army officers; this led to her undoing. Her observations and the lack of decisive decision-making illustrate how government agencies fought over their responsibilities, obstructing Tucker’s restitution cases. By not describing Tucker’s denouncement, we minimize the Army’s corruption of the military. By not analyzing Eve Tucker’s contributions, we diminish her importance. If war was men’s business, then postwar restitutions were Tucker’s.

Like many American women during the war, Eve Tucker joined the US Women’s Army Corps (WACs) in 1944. WAC offered Tucker opportunities to test her skills and education and to witness the rebuilding of Austria. Tucker ignored 1940s social conventions, volunteering to serve in war-ravaged Europe. The next year, she arrived in Germany and served as a secretary/stenographer at Hermann Göring’s war crimes trial at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. She transferred to Salzburg in March 1946 to work as a Fine Arts representative in the Reparation, Deliveries and Restitution Branch (RD&R) of the US Forces, Austria (USFA). The archival record does not indicate as to how she came to work for the RD&R.4 She remained in Salzburg until 1949. Upon returning to the United States, Tucker opened an art gallery in Miami Beach, Florida. In 1965 she moved to New Mexico and worked with Native Americans, first for Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), then for the state’s Office of Health and Social Services. During her retirement, she remained active in social and political groups. Tucker died in 1996, at the age of ninety.

Her experiences remain hidden despite passing references in the scholarship covering Allied restitution efforts in Austria. Fortunately for history, Tucker left behind several years’ worth of correspondence and weekly field reports. Her files detail the restitution work in the US zone, including inventories of recovered cultural property and descriptions of unfulfilled claims. Her storytelling consisted of blunt, colorful descriptions and sharp wordsmithing that illustrated the questionable restitution policies plaguing the Austrian occupation. Tucker documented her struggles carrying out restitution policy. Disgusted at the Army’s negligence in its capacity as custodian to the cultural property, she knew that the artworks belonged in Austrian private and public institutions, not for the Army’s private use. Tucker burned with indignation at a corrupt US military that impeded her restitution efforts.

Tucker became fully conversant on restitution matters as her education and professional abilities meshed well with the complicated and highly specialized work that returning artworks required. Her ideas impacted policies that continue to draw attention in restitution cases today. Tucker’s work experiences as a Fine Arts representative in the US-occupied Austria remain a historical footnote and they deserve a critical investigation. I argue that Tucker defied expectations; a thoughtful analysis of her contributions to the restitution process helps us gain a clearer appreciation of the political and cultural chaos of occupied Austria. Entwined with her meaningful impact, at times her reports and correspondence reveal a certain naivete and potential weakness as a bias source. Tucker bogged herself down in the minutiae of restitution challenges. My archival research sheds light on the underappreciated role of Eve Tucker in her fight for rightful restitution.

Scholarship on Restitution in Occupied Austria

The postwar scholarship discussing restitution constitute a small part of a larger, yet incomplete historical picture. After battling Nazi Germany for four years, the Army had little interest in training for postwar occupation duties. Hundreds of thousands of objects remained under Allied control as late as 1951; however, restitution investigations plagued the US government for decades after the war. The literature becomes unbalanced when operations in Germany are compared to those in Austria; none offer an historical analysis of Allied postwar and restitution policies in occupied Austria. In contrast to the ample scholarship on the military occupation of Germany, little exists for Austria as Bischof explains that research in occupation studies has shifted away from political and diplomatic history to gender and cultural studies.5 Restitution in occupied Austria disappears from the literature as the country’s security became a bulwark for the United States against growing Communism.6 To better understand the occupation’s effects, telling individuals’ stories such as Eve Tucker’s becomes important.

Despite the successes in establishing a new government, occupation studies of Austria are overshadowed by studies of occupied Germany, as Günter Bischof argues. According to Bischof, postwar Austria remains “conspicuously absent” in the historiography of the occupation zones.7 The US military has yet to write an official history of its occupation of Austria. This is in contrast to its published document sources of occupied Germany. Despite that Austria was under military occupation like Germany, the scholarly literature sheds little light on the Allied occupation policies in the immediate postwar period. Moreover, the few books available do not speak to restitution policies. In his book Waltzing into the Cold War, John Jay Carafano contends that the Army viewed Austria as unimportant, which led to a “protracted and difficult occupation” and makes the topic of restitution “even more intriguing.”8 From a policy-making vantage, Carafano recognizes the ground-level problems in the zone as restitution responsibilities confused the military detachments.

Since the US military was ill equipped for enforcing governing policies, it was ill prepared in carrying out differing restitution policies. Michael Kurtz’s America and the Return of Nazi Contraband: The Recovery of Europe’s Cultural Treasures first examined Anglo-American restitution policies and contends that the Allies were unprepared for this task.9 Unfortunately, Kurtz offers limited discussion of restitution efforts in Austria, and only in relation to the Army’s discovery of the Altaussee salt mine, the famed underground repository in Upper Austria where the Nazis stored over 6,500 paintings, 2,300 drawings, and 2,000 cases of books and archival materials.

The few articles in scholarly literature on women involved in the war effort do not examine educated women in government positions working in postwar Europe. Most scholarly accounts discuss changing gender roles especially in the military, industry, and administrative positions, areas previously closed to women, and document the women’s home-front experiences. Most often, the studies end in 1945.10 Mattie E. Treadwell’s account, The U.S. Army in World War II, Special Studies, the Women’s Army Corps, describes how the WACs trained for numerous positions, including the “unfeminine” areas of intelligence, mechanics, and medical. Treadwell’s informative account is useful despite being written from a governmental policy level and not from individuals’ stories.11

Few historical perspectives document women’s federal government employment during the war. Cynthia Gueli’s Lipstick Brigade: The Untold True Story of Washington’s World War II Government Girls examines women’s unique employment and social opportunities in Washington, DC, as well as their setbacks; however, Gueli does not discuss experiences of educated, professional women such as Tucker.12 Similarly, Liza Mundy’s Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II, focuses on females working in the intelligence services and breaking enemy codes and describes how women challenged gender norms. Women like Eve Tucker were resourceful and wanted to be intellectually challenged in their work. Tucker found her place in occupied Austria.

My study of Eve Tucker and with her work in Austria adds to the current historiography on Allied restitution of Nazi confiscated art and to the more limited scholarship of how women and men interacted in the Allied occupied zones. Women in the Allies’ restitution program lack agency in the historical scholarship, including Ardelia R. Hall, Fine Arts representative at the Department of State in Washington, DC, from 1946 to 1962, and WAC captain Edith A. Standen, MFA&A officer then director of the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, from 1945 to 1947. Did these women know of each other? Did they ever cross professional paths and share their expertise? The women were each dedicated to their work. Hall was the “dominant force” for postwar art restitution, especially when most in the Army and State Department were being drawn into the growing Cold War. Standen and Tucker were unrelenting about safeguarding and returning Nazi-looted artworks. From her Washington office, Hall corresponded with Standen, directing the “final handover of the residual contents” from Wiesbaden, while aiding Tucker in her navigation of the precarious MFA representative position in Salzburg. Unfortunately, the women’s respective responses, if written on paper, remain elusive. Tucker probably never met Standen during their respective postwar tours due to lack of resources.13

We can see how Eve Tucker traversed the views and opinions of her male colleagues and, as we read her reports, how she chose to ignore both the overt and subtle comments of her and her professionalism. Tucker’s story provides a different perspective of US restitution efforts. Only when she acted like her male colleagues was her professionalism recognized by military officers. Had she acted “like a woman,” behavior seen as unmasculine or too feminine, she was removed “from the heroic masculine narrative.”14 Tucker was respected, but not seen as an equal in the restitution efforts in the German and Austrian zones. Tucker’s contributions and experiences need to be assessed on their own merits, and without the application of masculine codes. Tucker’s story of heroinism in the Austrian zone parallels those heroic tales in Germany.

Nazi Confiscations to Allied Recovery, 1938–1945

The Nazi Party leaders’ acquisition of artworks began after their rise to power in 1933, purging “degenerate” works, modern art genres, from all German public institutions. In Austria Nazi confiscations of public and private art collections began shortly after the Anschluss in 1938. In April 1938 the regime issued the “Law on the Registration of Jewish Assets” requiring Austrian Jews to register their property with the Vermögensverkehrstelle (Assets Transfer Agency). This agency served as the basis for the Nazis’ Aryanization and confiscation programs. The looting continued throughout the Nazi-occupied territories until the spring of 1945.

America’s involvement in the recovering and restituting of Nazi-looted artworks began in 1942 when concerned art historians and museum officials joined together and lobbied the US government to form a specialized art advisory commission.15 Created in 1943 the Roberts Commission convinced leaders at the War Department to establish the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFA&A) program and in 1945 the program officers reported to Allied military commanders in occupied Germany and Austria since the MFA&A worked in the occupied areas. Their primary purpose was recovering, transporting, protecting, and identifying stolen cultural property in order to restitute the objects to countries of origin. The MFA&A’s unexpected secondary purpose became the operation of a “lost and found” department of European art objects. In order to accommodate the thousands of pieces of Nazi-plundered artworks located in over 1,500 repositories in Germany and Austria found at the end of World War II, American occupation forces established temporary facilities known as central collecting points (CCPs) in former German warehouses and Nazi office buildings.16

Similar to the collecting points in Germany, an art collection center was established in Salzburg under the auspices of the US Forces, Austria (USFA). Here, officials aimed their restitution program to mirror the one in Germany. The Salzburg art center was not established during the early months of the occupation. Officials agreed that recovered Nazi-confiscated artworks should be transferred to the Munich Central Collecting Point for identification and restitution, knowing that the Austrian zone kept its jurisdiction over the items while in Munich. Moreover, Austrian-owned items would be stored separately. Yet, with the tens of thousands of fine arts recovered, this proved difficult as the Austrian artworks were never separated for identification and cataloging.17

At the Potsdam Conference in July 1945 the Allies agreed to a policy for external restitution of recovered artworks from the American zone to European countries, and identification and eventual return of artworks either confiscated or purchased in countries under Nazi occupation. To avoid having responsibility over confiscated artworks, the MFA&A returned the pieces to the governments of the countries from which they had been stolen. The MFA&A returned thousands of artworks to the Austrian Federal Monuments Office (BDA, Bundesdenkmalamt Österreich). However, the Austrian government mishandled its restitution responsibilities as officials delayed or ignored resolutions regarding the identification of Jewish-owned artworks and subsequent restitution to the owners. Additionally, the Austrian government did not want owners taking their artworks out of the country and utilized the Export Control Law, enacted in 1918, to protect the nation’s cultural heritage. Under the law, the BDA could charge art owners export taxes, approximately 10 percent of the total market value of the pieces. The government could have negotiated an agreement with the owners to leave some artworks with the museums in exchange for receiving an export license.18

Restitution operations in US-occupied Austria were a window into Tucker’s opinions and her personality conflicts with the military’s bureaucratic structure. Because the restitution program in Austria lacked guidance from Washington, procedures in Austria remained loosely based upon occupation policies for Germany. Frustrations of those on the ground grew at the lack of organization in Washington’s ability to create military government procedures, let alone an overall agreement of how best to implement said policies. Interested parties wrote vague procedures for the program. Tucker aptly described such matters: “apparent that not too much could be accomplished [on restitutions] until questions of policy are settled” between the zones and Washington as Germany and Austria each “established its own restitution policy quite apart from directives” issued by policymakers.19 Restitution in occupied Austria evolved from recovery and return of found stolen artworks to issues of custody and jurisdiction. Support of a single restitution policy for both zones remained absent.20

In the spring of 1945 the medley of US civilian and military planners and occupiers did not have any insight as to how to proceed on restitution matters. Since the government players could not commit to a plan for the occupation, what developed was a “haphazard, improvised framework.”21 Part of the haphazardness was that restitution issues continually were entangled with issues of reparations, which divided the Allies, thus delaying any attempt at a cohesive restitution policy. However, the War Department understood that restitution matters were more complicated in Austria than in Germany, for after the Anschluss of 1938 many Austrian art objects were owned by Germans.22

Since the War Department directives viewed restitution in Austria as unique, the chief of the Reparations, Deliveries, and Restitution Branch (RD&R) issued the directive “Disposition of Objects of Art” in August 1945 outlining restitution procedures for the Austrian zone: “objects of art originally located in the US Zone in Austria must remain under the control of the Commanding General, US Forces in Austria” and “[objects] may, however, be transferred to the custody of another US military agency for safe-keeping and processing, provided such custody is subject to the control of Commanding General, US Forces in Austria.”23 This was an initial attempt at outlining restitution procedures in the Austrian zone, and stems from the 1943 Moscow Declaration.24

In the fall of 1943, convening at the Moscow Conference, the Allies established and implemented policies for postwar Austria. Through the Moscow Declaration, the Allies voided the 1938 Anschluss and “proclaimed [Austria] a victim of Hitler’s aggression and vowed to reestablish an independent Austrian nation free of Nazi tyranny.”25 Furthermore, the Declaration called for an independent Austria to pay reparations to Allied nations, “that in the final settlement account will inevitably be taken of her own contribution to her liberation.”26 Despite the clause’s vagueness on restitution of stolen artworks, this became the cause behind the chaos and lack of consensus in the military occupied zones.27 The Austrian government exploited the Moscow Declaration by arguing that the country had been an occupied nation from 1938 to 1945, thus deflecting responsibility for not investigating restitution claims filed by Jewish owners in the postwar period.28 Austrian Jews were not convinced that the Austrians would meet the Jews’ restitution demands; thus, the true victims of the Anschluss, European war, and postwar recovery would remain empty handed.29

The “Disposition of Objects of Art” directive resonated with Tucker for it forecasted her mounting frustrations over restitution as Austrian artworks remained in German custody at the collecting point. The directive allowed custody of the artworks to be transferred to another jurisdiction during the restitution investigation provided that adequate tracking was implemented. In 1945 and early 1946, prior to any official restitution policy and the Allies defining Austria as an ex-enemy, restitutions were made to the Austrian government, yet items remained under Allied jurisdiction until restitution claims were completed and items placed into owners’ custody. Restitution developed into an operation in which each occupation zone’s commander made their own policies and procedures, and for Fine Arts officers like Eve Tucker involved in restitution investigations the lack of coherent directives showed structural problems within the US military government. Tucker explained the problems between Washington creating policy and OMGUS enforcing policy upon USFA: “Fine Arts Officers in Munich are not much concerned with the Moscow Declaration, which declared Austria to be the first victim of Nazi aggression, etc. They argue that Austria was an ex-enemy nation and should not get back [her] fine arts.”30 Military officers viewed looting of the enemy as a “symbolic punishment” on Germany, and to some extent Austria.31 Tucker heard the Army officers’ disapprovals that the Allies were now to treat Austria as an ex-enemy nation; however, the officers believed that the country should not receive the cultural property. Instead, the Army was more interested in quickly liquidating the artworks, which caused errors in storage and shipment inventories.32 She experienced how inadequate and contradictory the restitution directives operated in the Austrian zone.

Delayed Restitutions in Austria, 1945–1947

Before Tucker arrived in Europe in 1945, restitution sputtered due to internal tensions, ineffective structures, and absence of guidance from Washington.33 Lack of trained military personnel persisted. Additionally, instructions of how to treat Austria—as an ex-enemy or liberated nation—contradicted each other, and Washington offered no clarification to the military occupiers. United States government military and civilian agencies blamed each other for the failures. The military consisted of numerous fiefdoms in the occupied zones, and each zonal governor focused on his own plans. Despite that, restitution procedures would be enforced the same in both zones, Germany overshadowed Austria. Each country came to play different geopolitical roles. Tucker explained the problem: “When directives from Washington are received in Berlin, they are rewritten into numerous Military Instructions, all of which must be studied carefully to keep abreast of restitution policy. This is probably due to a great extent to the fact the occupation in Germany is different.”34 She saw that orders came from the same place, Washington and military governments, but the directives carried different meanings when leadership enforced them on the ground. Military occupation governors working in Germany saw more at stake politically than similar governing policies in Austria; thus, restitution in Austria developed on the whims and interests of the occupation zone’s commander. Tensions over governing the state grew quickly between these nations, and the discussions on Austria soon took a back seat to the developing Cold War. As a result, this triggered arguments between occupation leaders and Austrian officials over custody and jurisdiction of artworks for the next several years.

In an attempt to clarify custodial and jurisdictional debates, in March 1946 the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued the mandate, “Restitution to Ex-Enemies,” requiring the return of cultural property in Munich to Salzburg. The directive affirmed that all artworks removed from Austria between 1938 and 1945 by acquisition, purchase, “or any method purporting to be a legal transaction, shall be returned to Austria.”35 Upon receiving the restituted items, the Austrian government had jurisdiction over fine arts until owners—current and former Austrians living in Austria or other countries—made a claim. Several months later, in July 1946 Fine Arts officers in Munich and Salzburg agreed all Austrian fine arts owned before the war, and located in Germany, would be transferred to USFA custody.36

In the following months, Tucker and her Austrian colleague Dr. Otto Demus, art historian with the Federal Monuments Office (Bundesdenkmalamt), grew suspicious of German civilian staff. Fine Arts officers in Munich had developed a policy regarding restitution of Austrian artworks that contradicted the March 1946 directive.37 Clashes occurred between the Austrian and German staff at the Munich Central Collecting Point (MCCP), as Demus voiced his view that the artworks could serve as “compensation goods.”38 He believed that the Army was going to return seized Austrian artworks to Germany, not to the Austrian government, nor return artworks the Germans purchased in Austria during the Nazi occupation.39 Demus’s stance made Tucker’s investigations more difficult.

Few restitution investigations had taken place between 1945 and 1947, upsetting the Austrian government’s cultural officials. Tucker observed: “The Germans are becoming panicky on this subject—they see their time-honored fine arts being taken from them as war booty, and they also see what they consider legitimate purchases being taken from them and returned to Austria, which they contend certainly has some war guilt.”40 Demus expressed his concerns that the German civilian staff did not take precautions with Austrian artworks and Demus objected to the transfers of unidentified artworks from Salzburg to Munich for so-called administrative purposes.41 Throughout 1947 and 1948 Demus perhaps deceived Tucker into pushing Austria’s case for the return of the country’s culture, while she worked to restitute the Austrian-owned cultural heritage looted by the Nazi regime.42

Eve Tucker Versus the Munich Central Collecting Point, 1948

Tucker’s mounting impatience over USFA’s jurisdiction of art objects came to a boiling point in August 1948 with interesting results. In mid-July Tucker and Demus learned of a classified telegram sent to the Munich collecting point regarding the transfer of the remaining 2,500 unidentified Austrian artworks held in Munich to the Bavarian government before the end of summer. The collecting point would retain jurisdiction of non-German works and Bavaria would retain custody. Tucker was shocked. Moving items minimized her role in Salzburg and her investigations throughout the Austrian zone. This violated all restitution efforts by USFA, and the zonal commanders would not agree on custody and jurisdiction questions until they were resolved at a higher level. As Tucker’s reports demonstrated, the critical elements of restitution work continued to be implemented and enforced from below. Tucker understood from her superiors that she was to continue her investigations, despite the lack of documentation proving ownership, as many collectors, owners, and heirs died during the war and private and business records had been destroyed by Allied bombings.43

A fine arts turf war over custody and jurisdiction developed between Tucker and Herbert S. Leonard, then director of the Munich Central Collecting Point. Leonard firmly believed that the Austrian zone had no jurisdiction over any artworks in Munich, due to the 1945 directive titled “Disposition of Objects of Art.” He described himself as one with a wider range of restitution experience and he understood better than his colleagues how policy directives did not always work well in real situations. Leonard accused Tucker of being pro-Austrian, and that what he perceived as her prejudices toward the Munich staff were affecting her restitution investigations. Tucker tersely responded, documenting what she saw as bitterness and “negative attitudes to Austria displayed by” the German civilian staff at the collecting point.44 Tucker saw Leonard’s accusation as a form of distrust toward the Salzburg art center staff, as he viewed all Austrians as ex-enemies. Leonard contended that the only way to settle the issue would involve a decision from the military government’s legal division and wrote to his superior requesting the division’s involvement. Yet Tucker wanted restitution matters resolved in the field, not by high-level zonal officers. She was aware that placing artworks into the “tender mercies” of the Munich collecting point would cause operational problems with the Austrian government as it relied on the Salzburg art center to protect the treasures. Just as Leonard was not trusting the Austrian government to do its job, Tucker did not trust the newly established Bavarian government to return the pieces to Austria.45

Tucker asserted her position to Leonard. She explained the differences between her and Leonard regarding restitution procedures and offered a resolution based on the directive “Restitution to ex-Enemies”: whether or not an artwork was acquired by purchase or another legal means, the art would be returned to Austrian officials. Agreed to by the Allies and outlined in the Moscow Declaration, the artworks would be returned to Austria, now a liberated nation. Through proper channels, Tucker wanted to resolve disagreements over jurisdiction. Yet, she experienced resistance from Munich officials when she reported to her superior how the collecting point decided on its own to move the items. Tucker watched Munich officials push against the military government authorities, ignoring their responsibilities and arguing over “the justice of this or the justice of that.”46 She feared the Austrian-owned items would enter German museums and collections, never returning to their Austrian owners.

She maintained that transferring German and non-German artworks from the custody of the Munich collecting point to the Bavarian state government could not be made unilaterally. In an August 1948 letter Tucker accused the military government officials in Munich of a lack of cognizance over the return of all Austrian cultural property. Tucker asked rhetorically as to why generals had to be involved with her investigations. She found Leonard’s solution “controversial . . . and deliberately provocative,” and she questioned his professional views of restitution, custody, and jurisdiction. Tucker wanted to work with Leonard, to come to a solution of an aggravating problem, adding that there was no “general anywhere who would give up his jurisdiction.”47 She argued that any changes to restitution policy had to go through military government channels in each zone and, more importantly, the art center in Salzburg would retain its control of all artworks returned to the Austrian government. She concluded with several recommendations: resolving her dispute with Leonard; postponing the release of the property to the Bavarian government by sixty days; and utilizing five segregating categories to identify the remaining 2,500 artworks.48 Her championing for the restitution of artworks came through her negotiations with Leonard.

An outraged Leonard replied to Tucker’s memorandum. He claimed to be unaware of any agreement between the two zones confirming USFA’s jurisdiction over Austrian art objects. He argued how cultural property needed to be restituted according to policies in the German zone where the materials resided, even temporarily. He believed that to return collections to Austria was USFA’s effort to allow access to the artwork so that the Austrian government could eventually profit from the sales of unclaimed items. Leonard called for the immediate termination of USFA jurisdiction over Austrian objects and all restitutions of Austrian items would occur in Munich. Leonard ended his memorandum by formally requesting that USFA’s jurisdiction be terminated.49

Tucker found it difficult to work with what she called Leonard’s “closed mind and deaf ears.”50 She reminded Leonard that not having an agreement benefitting restitution operations in Austria only made things messier in Munich. She denied that she was rewriting Allied policy, only shoring up fundamental questions regarding restitution. With no agreement, Tucker put her opinions in a memorandum, addressed to her and Leonard’s superiors. She refused to return to Salzburg as a failure.

To Leonard’s surprise, the senior officials accepted Tucker’s ideas and ordered Leonard to implement them. Tucker’s suggestions built a reasonable foundation for the return of artworks from Munich to Austria and senior officials directed the Munich staff to conduct a “thorough screening” of the remaining Austrian art objects based upon Tucker’s five categories.51 An irate Leonard responded by arguing that Austrian art objects must stay at the MCCP.52 He found USFA’s jurisdiction over art objects unacceptable, and he did not agree to the enforcement of Tucker’s screening categories. Leonard argued that complicated restitution procedures developed in 1945 and 1946 for USFA to retain jurisdiction over Austrian artworks was now revived “in its most malignant form by the energy of Miss Eve Tucker of USFA who, not knowing the origins, sees certain gains in the ends.” He added “that the solutions envisaged by Miss Tucker will lead inevitably to inequities and in those inequities the undersigned [Leonard] can not participate.”53 He accused Tucker of making a “cheap grab” for USFA’s sole benefit. Leonard viewed his superiors’ decision to support Tucker as a violation of military government laws; thus, he could no longer continue his position as a restitution officer and threatened to resign in protest.54

Tucker lost her patience with Leonard, ignoring most of his remarks. Again, she told him that the entire matter “had been thoroughly argued and settled” the previous month. She added, “USFA has nothing to be ashamed of and I personally cannot be intimidated.”55 If Austrian items were turned over to the Bavarian government, then the transfer violated directives issued in 1945 and 1946 as well as the Moscow Declaration. Tucker was not exerting USFA’s jurisdiction over the artworks as Leonard accused her of; rather, she saw herself as protecting the segregated Austrian property from being illegally moved.

Similar to Austria, Italian restitutions were a thorn in Leonard’s side. In 1948 General Lucius D. Clay ordered the return of Italian artworks. Rodolfo Siviero, art historian and the Italian representative on restitution, worked diligently to identify and have returned his country’s cultural heritage, Nazi-confiscated treasures from museums in Venice, Florence, and Naples. However, he, Leonard, and the German curators at the Munich collecting point disagreed over the pieces that Hitler and other Nazi leaders purchased before mid-1943 available on the Italian art market. Perhaps taking advantage of the growing Cold War, Siviero believed that his country’s claim for the property “should be considered in the same light as that of Austria” and produced two claims to the Munich collecting point: claim A covered artworks stolen from Italy; claim B, artworks illegally sold to Germany which totaled 3,900–4,000 items. The US authorities disagreed with Siviero, who in turn refused to accept the answer and became adamant about the return of Italy’s treasures.56

Meanwhile, General Clay, who had little interest in restitution and wanted to finish its operations in Germany and Austria, “issued a directive [from the State Department] in April [1948] that completely contradicted its earlier ruling: works of art that had been purchased in Italy before 23 July 1943 were not to be restituted without compensation.” Clay’s announcement, known as the “Exceptional Return Order,” outlined Siviero’s claim for the restitution of the artworks. Leonard was enraged. He opposed, then stalled enacting the order. He hid some artworks to prevent their return. He viewed Clay’s action as a political ploy, one without any legal basis.57

Leonard and his German colleagues at the collecting point filed numerous protests with the military government’s legal section, accumulating thousands of documents proving that much of the claimed items were not of Italian origin. An MFA&A officer described to his colleague that

there was a cable from Washington which specifically directed that the Military Government return to Italy objects which were illegally removed. There was some of the usual double-talk in expressing what was meant by illegally removed. Anyone who implies that there was any lack of validation, concurrence, agreement or legality within the Military Government, with the sole exception of Leonard who in the process violated security measures and disobeyed the direct orders of the Military Government, is imbued with the same Germanophile prejudice which permitted Leonard to go off his rocker.58

Despite Leonard’s actions, the Italians pressed the issue.

Upon Leonard’s resignation, Steven Munsing assumed the director position at the MCCP. Tucker met with Munsing several times in the autumn of 1948 following Leonard’s resignation. She learned that not only was Munsing habitually delaying restitution investigations, he also was weary of German and Austrian civilians. Tucker was cautious around Munsing as she believed he was “enjoying the protection of high-ranking members” of the military government. She wanted assurance from him that the German civilian staff in Munich would continue the segregation of artworks into the various categories, as had been previously agreed. He did not like that former Nazi officials and party members continued to hold positions in the Austrian government, which, he believed, countered any plans for “justice and morality” in a postwar Europe. Munsing sided with the German staff at the Munich collecting point, according to Tucker; he did not agree with Austria’s status as an ex-enemy nature, assigned by the Allies, and accused the Austrians of approving legal sales of confiscated artworks.59

Tucker believed Munsing was sabotaging the agreements between Munich and Salzburg by working closely with the German art historians and curators at the collecting point as they picked out Jewish-owned, unclaimed artworks for their respective museum collections. Fine Arts officials in Munich influenced by the German civilian staff wrongly presumed that the Munich collecting point had both custody and jurisdiction. The working relationships between Fine Arts officials, and German and Austrian civilians grew tenuous, accusations of Nazi affiliations continued, and some staff pointed at the governments and civilians of illegally taking the stored art as war compensation.

During a December 1948 meeting, Munsing, with “chilled politeness,” stated to Tucker and Demus that none of the art pieces was returning to Austria, as the works were property of the German state and would not leave Munich until USFA could prove its jurisdiction. Moreover, he remained hesitant about implementing the segregating process developed by Tucker. His hostility caught Tucker off-guard. Tucker tried to remain calm. She reminded Munsing to focus on the main objective: what USFA officials were “trying to do is break this so-called loot down into categories which will separate legitimate pre-war Austrian and pre-war German property from the unidentifiable loot—then the so-called loot can be held here in the [M]CCP until Washington decides what should be done with it.” In other words, both her and USFA’s actions followed the Moscow Declaration, that any artwork removed from Austria after the Anschluss would be restituted to Austria. Munsing fired back, saying that decisions about the art items would be made by the military government’s legal division. Wanting to resolve the matter between the art centers, she did not view this as a judicial matter. Tucker asked, “So then we must wait for a legal decision or as you said before ‘an order’ before you will allow the property to be returned to Austria.” With a triumphant look, Munsing replied, “That is right.” For Munsing, the artworks belonged to the German state, not Austria.60

In her meetings with Army and Austrian officials, Tucker realized that the men acknowledged her “with thinly veiled hostility.”61 Her detailed encounters with Leonard and Munsing especially show how Tucker experienced “sexist condescension” while battling for respect and parity in her work. The officers’ subtle and overt chauvinistic messages toward her investigations illustrated that civilians and military in postwar Austria experienced changes in both social and gender roles just as was happening on the American home front. The GIs charged with transporting the artworks believed that protecting them was not part of their duties, and following instructions from a woman like Tucker did not mesh well with their own training and social norms.

Tucker positioned herself as honoring a transcendent cause of Austrian national sovereignty by protecting the Austrian art objects. Tucker’s opinions of cultural heritage and Austrian rightful ownership to its property evolved as she worked throughout the Austrian zone. However, in 1947 and 1948 both the German and Austrian zones continued to wait for a settled restitution policy at the military government level. While her field reports showcased how she resolved her opinions regarding restitution to Austria, she discussed her views that the occupiers had the moral responsibility to restitute prewar Austrian artworks to the Austrian government. Tucker accused the MCCP staff of resenting the restitution policy for Austria: “what moral right (not to mention orders from Washington) Germany has to be enriched by valuable painting at the expense of a Jew from Vienna?”62 Despite her positive work relations with the Austrians such as Dr. Otto Demus, she never thought that government officials could be considered morally responsible to restitute the artworks to the rightful owners/heirs. The dismayed Austrian art experts questioned their occupiers as to when the country would be rebuilt and the nation’s cultural property would be returned. To Tucker, the Austrian government was not equipped to maintain custody of the art objects, and she grew concerned that officials might illegally keep the artworks in lieu of reparation payments from Germany. Tucker saw herself as a mediator between the zonal officials and Austrians, thus she closely reviewed her own investigations to avoid any accusations of mishandling restitution claims.63 According to Tucker, for the Austrians, receiving ‘status’ as ex-enemy came the responsibility of admitting its crimes such as confiscating Jewish-owned property.

Tucker believed that the US Army proved itself incompetent to legally control the art objects. She condemned the Army for not having foresight in the resolution of restitution and custody issues in the Austrian zone and pressed her supervisors for guidance.

Army Thefts from Zonal Warehouses, 1945–1949

In the summer of 1948, Tucker’s patience with the Army wore thin and her work suffered as she was unable to account for numerous Austrian pieces, which did not reflect well on the Salzburg art center staff. In her letter to a Fine Arts colleague, Tucker summarized her work: “as time goes on restitution becomes more difficult and [unclaimed] property becomes dissipated and disappears” from the Salzburg warehouse.64 Many officers left Austria, leaving gaps in experience personnel. Civilian and military replacements did not understand the importance of protecting the artworks. As Tucker witnessed, implementing anti-looting directives issued by the military proved ineffective as they rarely filtered down to the troops transferring the artworks. She was ready to leave Austria. Exasperated, she bitterly complained how stymied she had become and described her mood as feeling exhausted after several years of working in the zone, Tucker poignantly wrote that “no one in the Zone really understood restitution” and that many in the Army believed that “[Fine Arts] representatives [like Tucker seemed to forget] which country they were working for.”65

Army troops and civilians stole from the unguarded Salzburg property warehouse, the “requisition dump for officers.”66 This became a common form of requisitioning in occupied Austria. Punishments were rarely enforced. Army officials looked away from the thefts, as senior officers whetted their appetites by appropriating unclaimed and unidentified property for their private quarters, offices, and clubs, including household furnishings, rugs, silver, china, and paintings. In the spirit of victor’s spoils, for example, US Major General Harry Collins selected the highest quality household goods and artworks to adorn his private and work quarters from the Property Warehouse in Salzburg. Much of his selections came from the Hungarian Gold Train, discovered outside Werfen, Austria, in 1945 by the US Army. As custodian, the Army acted egregiously, failing to identify the train’s contents, including 1,181 paintings that eventually became Tucker’s responsibility.67 The Army prohibited Fine Arts representatives, like Tucker, and Hungarian officials from visiting the Salzburg warehouse to claim the property; thus for two years the train’s contents remained untouched and undocumented, intermingling with other recovered cultural items awaiting restitution.68

Tucker requested access to the officers’ quarters for her investigations, only to be denied by the generals. Army leaders grew frustrated over her diligence. Tucker’s supervisor reprimanded her and ordered her to stop nosing around.69 Tucker pushed back, claiming that her access to the buildings was required for her official government-sanctioned work but the annoyed officers delayed her investigations.70 She stated,

The inaccessibility of these places to the Fine Arts Officer has been all the more reprehensible because many of these places were taken over intact form the Nazis who had used them for similar purposes. Therefore, I have been in the untenable position of being required to locate and identify looted fine arts in the US Zone of Austria but forbidden to check the one best source, [the officers’ villas and clubs].71

Tucker’s loss of control over the restitution work showed the continued carelessness by the military.

Boldly, Tucker documented the paintings she believed had disappeared through the officers’ illegal requisitions of objects that had remained under US control since 1945. Tucker protected herself by stating she had identified the objects and included them on the restitution claims, then added that Army officials had censored her reports. She was not allowed to reveal her knowledge of the artworks’ whereabouts.72 Tucker complained that there existed a “lack of support, sympathy and interest” on the part of her Army supervisors, and she found herself lying to her Austrian colleagues when the Army erred.73 She added how she did not have the heart “to write the Austrian government that [these] collections were irretrievably looted by the very people who were charged with its safe custody.”74 Restitution remained a postwar burden for the military.

Tucker considered herself one who “fought so hard to protect [the artworks from] petty thievery and grand larceny.”75 Her statements shed light on a larger problem: that US officials in charge of the Fine Arts Program saw restitution to Austria not as an important part of the overall occupation program but merely as an administrative exercise.76 Denied access to areas where looted art was stored, Tucker was prevented from completing her job. She continued to follow her orders: to identify, recover, and return looted artworks to the Austrian government. She knew her role. It was the Army who failed in its responsibilities.

Eve Tucker’s Departure from the Austrian Zone, 1949 to Present

Tucker learned in December 1948 that her position would be terminated in February 1949, as military officials ordered the art collecting centers in Austria to close. Tucker’s correspondence alluded that her dismissal was the result of her written charges of Army thefts from the property warehouse. Other than the closure of the Salzburg art center, the archival evidence in the US Army’s records does not provide clear reasons for the officers’ dismissal of Tucker, nor do we learn from her own lucid field reports. When the Austrian minister for property administration learned of Tucker’s dismissal, he expressed his concerns to the Army official: “to remove the only American Officer fully conversant with the [restitution] matter would not only severely handicap our work . . . it would even prolong the work if it had to be done by somebody without this knowledge.”77 Without Tucker, he rightly feared that a gap in restitution work would develop at the Salzburg art center. The specialized work would not be as thorough with someone else conducting the investigations. Moreover, the professional relationships Tucker built on mutual trust and respect would not be valued. The Army did not reconsider this decision.

Tucker’s Final Status Report could be viewed as her coda. Her cover letter opened with numerous callous remarks, which deserves full quoting: “In the time that was available to me I have done everything possible to wind-up and close-out the restitution of fine arts in the US Zone of Austria,” and

It is a matter of regret to me that USACA did not attach enough importance to my handling of this delicate and explosive work, about which only I am familiar, to allow me to bring it to a successful conclusion. . . . I strongly recommend that future handling of fine arts in the US Zone be coordinated closely with these two offices, otherwise you will discover that a nation is extremely jealous of its cultural heritage and these offices will work against you instead of with you.78

Her status report not only serves as a guide to unfinished property claims but also appears as a call to action to the Army officials who unceremoniously fired her when Tucker reported their mismanagement of recovered Nazi-stolen cultural property.

Tucker revealed how her restitution investigations had become “a nasty job” while she continually covered up the Army’s mess.79 She knew that no one in the zone had a clue about restitution matters. She described her position as “both back-breaking and heart-breaking,” and had gained little recognition from the Army officers in her three years as a Fine Arts representative.80

In her Final Status Report, Tucker foreshadowed that recovery and restitution of Nazi-looted Jewish-owned cultural property would continue for the next fifty years.81 Her prediction resonates today. Then, as now, there existed a strange mixture of confusion and questionable legal decisions made by MFA&A and Austrian officials. Much of the postwar ineptness began with contradictory guidelines over original ownership of an artwork before and during the war, and how restitution would occur if the object was found in Austria. Tucker documented these aspects in her field reports between 1947 and 1949. In 1952, three years after Tucker’s departure from Austria, approximately 1,000 artworks were transferred from the MCCP to the Salzburg art center82

In 1955 Austria became its own state, and its constitution contains sections outlining the return of confiscated artworks. Following its own guidelines and laws, the Ministry of Education investigated restitution claims to determine rightful ownership and locate the owners and/or heirs. In 1957 the government suspended its restitution efforts. Unclaimed property was turned over to a government agency, acting as a collecting point, for final disposition. According to Austrian officials, restitution investigations may have been postponed for an indefinite amount of time because of the need for detailed and lengthy search procedures to avoid any mistakes when returning artworks to the rightful owners and/or heirs.83

Perhaps in reaction to public outcry over the matter of nonreturned or “heirless” artworks, the government passed the Second Act on the Determination of Ownership of Works of Art and Cultural Assets in 1986. With this law the government ordered the BDA to publish another list of the unclaimed artworks and stated that the pieces would be sold at auction with proceeds going to Jewish welfare organizations supporting Holocaust survivors.84 Over the decades, the Austrian government stored unclaimed artworks in the Mauerbach Charterhouse outside Vienna.85

In the 1980s public interest of postwar restitution of Austrian and non-Austrian cultural property appeared in the media. Reports documented the “neglect, ineptness and questionable legal maneuvers” by Austrian officials. No matter how much paperwork Austrian and non-Austrian claimants produced as evidence of ownership, the Austrian government would not cooperate with owners/heirs. The Austrian government stored heirless cultural property, yet it was unresponsive to calls for a public inventory of the stored items. Heirless property stored in Austria remains a sensitive issue as the artworks represent the nation’s cultural heritage of a democratic society.

Much of the postwar ineptness begins with the often-contradictory guidelines as to original ownership of an art object before and during the war, and how would restitution occur if the object was found in Austria. Contradictions and disagreements over policy quickly developed among American and Austrian officials. By the 1990s, about 8,500 artworks remained unrestituted by the Austrian Federal Office of Monuments. In 1995, and in response to the news, the government transferred the cultural property to the Federal Association of the Jewish Community of Austria. The following year, in 1996, Christie’s auction house in Vienna held a sale known as the “Mauerbach auction” because the government stored the artworks in the town of Mauerbach. Available works consisted primarily of minor nineteenth-century German and Austrian artists.86 In 1998, perhaps in reaction to the auction and two much-publicized restitution claims made against Austria, the government passed the Art Restitution Act, authorizing the investigation of Nazi-confiscated cultural property, and enacting clear legal procedures to restitute artworks to owners and/or heirs.87 Additionally, the government formed the Commission for Provenance Research to review systematically all artworks acquired between 1933 and 1949 and resolve ownership questions. These debates would bring long-term changes as to how Austria approached restitution cases.

Conclusion

As one reviews the events of 1945–55, one could conclude that completing inventories of the Army’s warehouse should have been one of the Army’s immediate priorities. Yet, there was no effective tracking system in place, and since the cultural property was never fully accounted for, Tucker reported that her investigations remained incomplete. Identification and restitution became administratively impossible. Sadly, an active trade of recovered cultural property prospered between the property warehouse and the officers’ quarters. In the end, Tucker was incapable of stopping their gross dishonesty.

Tucker revealed herself as an activist of restitution who regularly worked around roadblocks and challenged her supervisors. Her frustrations over restitution were analogous to other problems throughout US-occupied areas in Germany and Austria. By combining Tucker’s observations and the lack of Allied decision-making, we can observe how government agencies fought over their respective responsibilities, which obstructed Tucker’s restitution work. We can remember how Evelyn Tucker was instrumental in returning Austrian cultural property to the Austrian government.

Notes

1.

Evelyn Tucker Field Report, February 1–8, 1948, Roll 151, Records of the Reparations and Restitutions Branch of the US Allied Commission for Austria, 1945–1950, NARA Microfilm Publication M1926, National Archives, College Park, MD; and Iris Lauterbach, The Central Collecting Point in Munich: A New Beginning for the Restitution and Protection of Art, trans. Fiona Elliott (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute Publications Program, 2018), 165.

2.

Tucker to Hall, January 6, 1949, Box 19, General Records of the Department of State, Records Maintained by the Fine Arts and Monuments Adviser, 1945–1951, RG 59, NACP (hereafter AHSF [Ardelia Hall Subject Files]).

3.

Krauland to Keyes, December 1, 1948, Roll 142, M1926, NACP.

4.

Eve Tucker’s duties, January 25, 1947, Roll 142, M1926, NACP. Tucker supervised a secretary and stenographer. Her immediate supervisor was Lt. Col. E. S. McKee, chief of the Reparations and Restitution Branch (R&R). The Property Control Branch and the Monuments and Fine Arts Branch reported to the US Forces, Austria (USFA), while USFA reported to the US Allied Commission for Austria (USACA).

5.

Günter Bischof, “The Post–World War II Allied Occupation of Austria: What Can We Learn about It for Iraq in Successful National Building,” Journal of Austrian-American History 4 (2020): 38–72.

6.

Scholarly works on US military–occupied Austria include Günter Bischof, Austria in the First Cold War, 1945–55: The Leverage of the Weak (New York: St. Martin’s, 1999); James Jay Carafano, Waltzing into the Cold War: The Struggle for Occupied Austria (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2002); Robert Knight, ‘Ich bin dafür, die Sache in die Länge zu ziehen (Wien: Böhlau, 2000); Robert H. Keyserlingk, Austria in World War II: An Anglo-American Dilemma (Kingston, Ont.: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1988); Donald R. Whitnah and Edgar L. Erickson, The American Occupation of Austria: Planning and Early Years (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1985); and Ralph W. Brown III, “A Cold War Army of Occupation: The US Military Government in Vienna, 1945–1950” (Ph.D. diss., University of Tennessee, 1995).

7.

Bischof, “The Post-World War II Allied Occupation of Austria.”

8.

Carafano, Waltzing into the Cold War, 3–4.

9.

Michael J. Kurtz, America and the Return of Nazi Contraband: The Recovery of Europe’s Cultural Treasures (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), and Nazi Contraband: American Policy on the Return of European Cultural Treasures, 1945–1955 (New York: Garland, 1985). Books laid the necessary groundwork for the more politicized of Nazi looted assets in the late 1990s, include Lynn H. Nicholas, The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War (New York: Vintage, 1995), and Jonathan Petropoulos, Art as Politics in the Third Reich (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996).

10.

Susan M. Hartmann, The Home Front and Beyond: American Women in the 1940s (Boston: Twayne, 1982); D’Ann Campbell, Women at War with America: Private Lives in a Patriotic Era (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984); and Leisa D. Meyer, Creating G.I. Jane: Sexuality and Power in the Women’s Army Corps During World War II (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).

11.

Mattie E. Treadwell, The Women’s Army Corps (Washington, DC: US Army, Center of Military History, 1954); and Maj. Gen. Mari K. Eder, The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2021).

12.

Cynthia Gueli, Lipstick Brigade: The Untold True Story of Washington’s World War II Government Girls (Washington, DC: Tahoga History Press, 2015); and Liza Mundy, Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II (New York: Hachette, 2017).

13.

Victoria Reed, “Ardelia Hall: From Museum of Fine Arts to Monuments Woman,” International Journal of Cultural Property 21, no. 1 (2014): 79–93; Kirrily Freeman, “Saving Civilization: The ‘Monuments Men’ in History and Memory,” Journal of Women’s History 33, no. 2 (Summer 2021): 85–100; and Lauterbach, Central Collecting Point in Munich, 76, 210.

14.

Freeman, “Saving Civilization”; and D’Ann Campbell, “Women in Combat: The World War II Experience in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and the Soviet Union,” Journal of Military History 57, no. 2 (April 1993): 301–23.

15.

The Roberts Commission’s official name was the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas. However, it did not address Austria. The commission operated until 1946. American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas, “Field Operations of Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Officers,” part 4 of Report of the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas (Washington, DC: US GPO, 1946), 47–160 (hereafter Report of the American Commission); Nicholas, Rape of Europa; Kurtz, America and the Return of Nazi Contraband; and Anne Rothfeld, “Project Orion: An Administrative History of the Art Looting Investigation Unit” (M.A. thesis, University of Maryland Baltimore County, 2002).

16.

The Property Division of the Office of Military Government for Germany, US Zone (OMGUS) Headquarters administered the recovery and restitution efforts until 1951. For first-hand accounts of the MFA&A in Germany, see James J. Rorimer, Survival: The Salvage and Protection of Art in War (New York: Abelard Press, 1950); Craig Hugh Smyth, Repatriation of Art from the Collecting Point in Munich after World War II (The Hague: G. Schwartz/SDU, 1988); Thomas Carr Howe Jr., Salt Mines and Castles: The Discovery and Restitution of Looted European Art (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1946); and Walter I. Farmer, The Safekeepers: A Memoir of the Arts at the End of World War II (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2000). The MFA&A established CCPs in the German cities of Marburg, Wiesbaden, Offenbach, and Munich. Regarding the British zone, see Works of Art in Austria (British Zone of Occupation): Losses and Survivals in the War (London: H. M. Stationary Office, 1946).

17.

Tucker brief, September 23, 1947, Roll 147, M1926, NACP.

18.

Austria Export Prohibition Act: Kommission fur Provenienzforschung, https://provenienzforschung.gv.at; Nationalfonds der Republik Österreich für Opfer des Naionalsozialismus, https://www.kunstdatenbank.at; and Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien Abteilung für Restitutionsangelegenheiten, https://www.restitution.or.at/schwerpunkte/s-kunst-geschichte.html; Hubertus Czernin, “The Austrian Evasion,” ARTnews (June 1988): 114; and Sophie Lillie, Was Einmal war: Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens (Wien: Czernin, 2003).

19.

Tucker Field Report, February 1–8, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

20.

Kurtz, America and the Return of Nazi Contraband, 67, 87.

21.

The Austrian provisional government opened on April 27, 1945, under Karl Renner. Carafano, Waltzing into the Cold War, 50–57.

22.

Section III, “General,” subsection no. 39, “Reparation and Restitution Policy (Austria),” April 30, 1946, Box 28, Files of the Director, 1946–1951 (Entry 100), Director of USACA, US Allied Commission for Austria, RG 260, NACP (hereafter Files of the Director, USACA).

23.

“Disposition of Objects of Art,” August 31, 1945, Roll 150, M1926, NACP; and Section III, “General,” subsection no. 39, “Reparation and Restitution Policy (Austria),” April 30, 1946, Box 28, Files of the Director, USACA, RG 260, NACP.

24.

Tucker memorandum, August 6, 1948, Box 17, AHSF, RG 59, NACP. Austria became a sovereign nation in 1955 under the Austrian State Treaty.

25.

US Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1943, vol. 1, General (Washington, DC: US GPO, 1963), 761; and Carafano, Waltzing into the Cold War, 24.

26.

US Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1:761.

27.

Officially called the Tripartite Conference of Foreign Ministers, Moscow, the Allies met October 18–November 1, 1943. Carafano, Waltzing into the Cold War, 24–29. Attendees created the Economic Advisory Commission (EAC) to plan and implement policies for effective occupation. EAC established the Allied Control Council (ACC) to issue and enforce occupation policies, orders, directives in Germany and Austria, including decisions regarding restitution of cultural property. By 1945 both failed due to tensions among the Allies. Kurtz, America and the Return of Nazi Contraband, 73.

28.

Elizabeth Anthony, The Compromise of Return: Viennese Jews after the Holocaust (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2021), 63–64.

29.

Günter Bischof, “Die Instrumentalisierung der Moskauer Erklärang nach dem 2. Weltkrieg,” Zeitgeschichte 20 (1993): 345–66; and Clemens Jabloner, Brigitte Bailer-Galanda, Eva Blimlinger, et al., Schlussbericht der Historikerkommission der Republik Österreich: Vermögensentzug während der NS-Zeit sowie Rückstellungen und Entschädigungen seit 1945 in Österreich: Zusammenfassung und Einschätzungen (München [u.a.] Oldenbourg 2003).

30.

Tucker to Hall, January 6, 1949, Box 19, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

31.

Seth A. Givens, “Liberating the Germans: The US Army and Looting in Germany during the Second World War,” War in History 21, no. 1 (2013): 34–36.

32.

Tucker to Hall, January 6, 1949, Box 19, AHSF, RG 59, NACP; and Tucker to McKee, August 14, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

33.

US Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1:761; and Kurtz, America and the Return of Nazi Contraband, 44–48.

34.

Tucker Field Report, February 1–8, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

35.

Tucker informal notes to HSL, February 5, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

36.

Tucker to McKee, September 24, 1947, Roll 147, M1926, NACP; and Tucker informal notes to HSL, February 5, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

37.

Tucker informal notes to HSL, February 5, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP. Demus, a historian of Byzantine art, earned his PhD at the University of Vienna in 1928. In 1930 he entered the Austrian Monuments Service, then to the Austrian Protection of Fine Arts and Monuments in 1936. He spent the war years in England. In 1946 he returned to Austria to work in the newly reorganized Monuments Office. In 1949 he joined the Dumbarton Oaks Research Center in Washington, DC. He died in Vienna, Austria, in 1990. In an essay a colleague recounted Demus’s story of his personal life in Nazi Austria: “[He], a gentile in post-Anschluss Vienna, married to a member of the [Nazi] Party, and the son-in-law of a Nazi, I used the perception that I must, therefore, be pro-regime if I wanted to assist Jews wanting to leave Austria after 1938.” Hans Belting, “Otto Demus—Obituary,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers (1991), https://www.doaks.org/resources/publications/series/dumbarton-oaks-papers; and Herbert L. Kessler, “Otto Demus,” Gesta 54, no. 1 (2015): 1–2.

38.

Lauterbach, Central Collecting Point in Munich, 162–69.

39.

Kenneth D. Alford, The Spoils of World War II: The American Military’s Role in the Stealing of Europe’s Treasures (New York: Birch Lane Press, 1994).

40.

Tucker Field Report, February 1–8, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

41.

Memo, [February 1948], Roll 145, M1926, NACP.

42.

Alford, Spoils of World War II, 252. Alford believes that Demus indoctrinated Tucker to his advantage. There are few citations in Alford’s book to support this view.

43.

Tucker to McKee, July 14, 1948, Roll 144, M1926, NACP. The Renner government issued several restitution acts between 1946 and 1947: First Restitution Act, July 26, 1946, outlined the return Nazi confiscated property held by the Austrian provisional government; Second Restitution Act, February 6, 1947, standardized how restitution would proceed; and Third Restitution Act, also February 6, 1947, outlined the return of Jewish-owned property held by individuals and organizations. Nationalfonds der Republik Österreich für Opfer des Naionalsozialismus, https://www.kunstdatenbank.at.

44.

Tucker to McKee, July 14, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP; and Lauterbach, Central Collecting Point in Munich, 166.

45.

Tucker to McKee, July 14, 1948, Roll 144, M1926, NACP.

46.

Tucker memorandum, August 6, 1948, Box 17, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

47.

Tucker to McKee, August 14, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

48.

Tucker memorandum, August 6, 1948, Box 17, AHSF, RG 59, NACP. Segregating categories included (1) prewar German property, acquired in Germany or removed from Austria before March 12, 1938; (2) prewar Austrian property, acquired in Austria or removed before March 12, 1938, or confiscated for the Linz Museum; (3) property believed to be of Allied origin but had incomplete documentation for restitution claims; (4) IV. Property by Austrian artists of unknown origins and export prohibited by the Austrian Govt.; V. Property of unknown origins. Cat. I, relinquished to USFA; Cat. II and III, returned to USFA’s custody; Cat. IV and V, held in Munich by OMGB pending further instructions.

49.

Leonard memorandum, August 9, 1948, Box 17, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

50.

Tucker to McKee, August 14, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

51.

Howard to McKee and Tucker, August 12, 1948, Box 17, AHSF, RG 59, NACP; and Howard to Janisch and McJunkins, August 23, 1948, Box 18, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

52.

Leonard to Howard, August 13, 1948, Box 18, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

53.

Leonard to Howard, August 24, 1948, Box 18, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

54.

Leonard’s resignation became official in November 1948, once a new CCP director was selected. Leonard to Janisch, September 23, 1948, and Leonard to Legal Division, October 12, 1948, Box 18, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

55.

Tucker Field Report, September 20–23, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

56.

Lauterbach, The Central Collecting Point in Munich, 150–59.

57.

Ibid., 158.

58.

Alford, Spoils of World War II, 251. Leonard’s disagreements over Siviero’s demands are not treated in Ilaria Dagnini Brey’s The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Monuments Officers Who Saved Italy’s Art during World War II (New York: Picador, 2010), who focuses on Deane Keller and Fredrick Hartt, MFA&A officers working primarily in Florence, Italy. In February 1949 Leonard returned to the United States where he became the assistant director of the City Art Museum of St. Louis. He died three years later.

59.

Tucker Field Report, October 19–22, 1948, roll 151, M1926, NACP; Lauterbach, Central Collecting Point in Munich, 165.

60.

Tucker Field Report, December 16–18, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

61.

Tucker to Ardelia Hall, January 6, 1949, Box 19, AHSF, RG 59, NACP; Mundy, Code Girls; and Givens, “Liberating the Germans,” 34–36.

62.

Tucker Field Reports, December 16–18, 1948, and February 1–8, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

63.

Tucker Field Reports, November 20–21, 1947, and May 27–June 2, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP; Tucker to McKee, August 29, 1947, Roll 150, M1926, NACP; Tucker to Hall, January 6, 1949, Box 19, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

64.

Tucker to Bob Miller, June 4, 1948, Roll 147, M1926, NACP.

65.

Tucker Field Report, October 30–31, 1947, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

66.

Ibid.

67.

Ibid., November 6–11, 1947, Roll 150, M1926, NACP and February 1–8, 1948, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

68.

Tucker’s investigation of the Hungarian Gold Train is the chapter subject of my forthcoming manuscript on Eve Tucker’s work in occupied Austria. Gábor Kádár and Zoltán Vági, Self-Financing Genocide: The Gold Train, the Becher Case and the Wealth of Hungarian Jews (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2004); Ronald W. Zweig, The Gold Train: The Destruction of the Jews and the Looting of Hungary (New York: William Morrow, 2002); Alford, Spoils of World War II, 85–86, 219–21, and 272–77; and Plunder and Restitution: The U.S. and Holocaust Victims’ Assets. Findings and Recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States and Staff Report (Washington, DC: US GPO, 2000). The report glossed over not only the Army’s inability to secure and protect the Hungarian Jewish property found on the train, but also its failure to return the property to Hungary. The report makes no reference to Tucker’s investigations as evidence of the Army’s actions. Settlement between the Hungarian Holocaust survivors and the US government was agreed to in 2005. See Hagens Berman Law firm, https://www.hbsslaw.com/cases/hungarian-gold-train.

69.

Tucker Field Report, October 30–31, 1947, Roll 151, M1926, NACP; Carafano, Waltzing into the Cold War, 70–71; and Givens, “Liberating the Germans,” 34–36.

70.

Tucker Field Report, December 18–19, 1947, Roll 151, M1926, NACP.

71.

Tucker, Final Status Report, February 16, 1949, Box 16, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

72.

Tucker to Hall, January 6, 1949, Box 19, AHSF, RG 59, NACP; and Carafano, Waltzing into the Cold War, 70–71.

73.

Tucker to Hall, January 6, 1949, Box 19, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

74.

Tucker, Final Status Report, February 16, 1949, Box 16, RG 59, NACP.

75.

Tucker to Hall, January 6, 1949, Box 19, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

76.

Balmer to Krauland, August 16, 1948, Box 18, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

77.

Krauland to Keyes, December 1, 1948, Roll 142, M1926, NACP.

78.

Tucker, Final Status Report, February 16, 1949, Box 16, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

79.

Tucker to Weeber, August 19, 1947, Roll 150, M1926, NACP.

80.

Tucker to Hall, January 6, 1949, Box 19, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

81.

Tucker, Final Status Report, February 16, 1949, Box 16, AHSF, RG 59, NACP.

82.

In 1950 Ardelia R. Hall of the State Department asked S. Lane Faison, formerly of the Art Looting Investigation Unit, to close the MCCP. He stayed in Munich for nine months until 1951. Nancy H. Yeide and Patricia A. Teter-Schneider, “S. Lane Faison, Jr. and ‘Art Under the Shadow of the Swastika,’” Archives of American Art Journal 47, nos. 3–4 (2008): 24–37; Gregory Maertz, “The Invisible Museum: Unearthing the Lost Modernist Art of the Third Reich,” Modernism/Modernity 15, no. 1 (2008): 63–85; and Rothfeld, “Project ORION.”

83.

Andrew Decker, “A Legacy of Shame,” ARTNews (December 1984), 58, 67–68; Ignaz Seidl-Hohenveldern, “The Auction of the ‘Mauerbach Treasure,’” International Journal of Cultural Property 6, no. 2 (July 1997): 251–52; Gabriele Anderl and Alexandra Caruso (Hg.), NS-Kunstraub in Österreich und die Folgen (Innsbruck; Wien: Bozen, 2005); and IKG, Vienna, http://www.restitution.or.at/schwerpunkte/s-kunst-geschichte_e.html. The Sammelstelle returned over 10,000 objects to owners.

84.

Seidl-Hohenveldern, “The Auction of the ‘Mauerbach Treasure,’” 254.

85.

Decker, “A Legacy of Shame,” 55–76; and Oliver Rathkolb, “From the ‘Legacy of Shame’ to New Debates over Nazi Looted Art,” in The Vranitzky Era in Austria, ed. Günter Bischof, et al., Contemporary Austrian Studies 7 (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1999), 216–28

86.

“The ‘Mauerbach Auction of 1996,” National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism, www.kunstdatenbank.at; and Christie’s Auction House, www.christies.com.

87.

The two cases were, first, for two paintings by Egon Schiele from the Leopold Collection, and, second, Maria Altmann filed her restitution claim against the government and the museum Österreichische Galerie Belvedere for the return of five paintings by Gustav Klimt from the Bloch-Bauer Collection. In 1999, the government denied Altmann’s claim. In 2006 Altmann received all of her family’s paintings.

Author notes

Author’s note: I would like to thank Michael Burri, Adriana Lecuona, Nathan Marcus, and the anonymous readers for their helpful comments and criticism. Any errors are my own.

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