The eight-part investigative series Hunting Nazi Treasure (premieres Oct 24, 2017) chronicles one of the greatest thefts in history, and the epic quest that an international team of experts embarked on to locate billions in art, gold, and other treasure that was stolen by the Nazi's during the Second World War.
What is Hunting Nazi Treasure about (and is it worth watching)?
The series takes you, with the investigative team, across four continents and 14 countries to locate valuable objects and artwork that were systematically looted by the Nazis and have been missing since the Second World War.
It also provides new insights into the motivations of top Nazi leaders like Hitler (who wanted to create the world's most spectacular art collection in his hometown of Linz) and Goering (Hitler's ruthless second who created the Gestapo and was obsessed with treasure), and explores how and why artwork and cultural artifacts are targets during times of war.
There are still hundreds of thousands of stolen treasures missing to this day — a staggering amount — including a painting by Italian master Raphael estimated to be worth upwards of $100 million, a $2 billion hoard of stolen Italian gold, and the legendary Amber Room from the Catherine Palace in Russia.
The series highlights how complicated the search for these artifacts really is. Are they sitting in someone's living room? Are they buried in a forgotten bunker somewhere? Are the at the bottom of an Austrian lake?
The hunt finds the team searching for items hidden in caves, castles, museums, and even underwater while gaining access to Nazi dossiers, archives, and declassified intelligence reports.
As the series premiere, "Hitler's Obsession", highlights, sometimes people might not even know that they have something of cultural significance.
A woman in America ate dinner every night in her family dining room sitting next to a tapestry (pictured above) that once hung in the dining room of Hitler's mountain retreat without even knowing that it was a significant and important piece of history. To her, it was simply decoration that her father had brought with him when he came home from the Second World War.
Who are the investigators?
Robert Edsel — Team Leader
Author of the New York Times #1 bestselling book-turned-movie The Monuments Men, and Founder and Chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, Edsel is the one that identifies targets and helps to connect the investigative dots.
He has a wealth of connections and expertise that gives the team access to the backrooms and vaults of world-famous museums, including access to original documents and photo albums made for Hitler himself! He also facilitates meetings with top law enforcement officials in Italy as well as secret contacts in Russia.
As the series unfolds, the viewer is introduced to Hitler’s grand plan to become “the curator of the German people” atop one of the world’s most spectacular art collections, and the desperate last-act by the Nazis to hide an unimaginable trove of gold, most likely in the Bavarian Alps.
“It is my hope that our program will become America's Most Wanted for culture and lead to the return of priceless objects to their rightful owners,” says Robert Edsel. “This program will present a unique opportunity to put the foundation’s extensive records and archives to use.
“George Clooney's film introduced The Monuments Men to a worldwide audience,” Edsel continues, “and now we have an opportunity to enlist the help of the public to join the hunt for some of the hundreds of thousands of objects still missing."
Conor Woodman — Investigative Journalist
Charismatic investigative journalist Conor Woodman is an eager adventurer who stops at nothing to locate the stolen items.
In the series, Woodman scuba dives off the coast of Corsica in the search for Rommel’s Gold (a treasure that fascinated James Bond creator Ian Fleming and a story that leads to an escaped Nazi in South America) and crawls into the ruins of an underground bunker where Nazi #2 Hermann Goering once kept pet lion cubs and a huge stolen art collection.
James Holland — Second World War Historian
Historian James Holland provides analysis and perspective to the team.
He interviews the British soldier who found Hitler’s last will and testament, and travels to Auschwitz to uncover the chilling story of the unit responsible for stealing gold from camp victims, and spotlights a Nazi looting operation in Paris, so cold and so calculated, it even included stealing children’s toys.
+ Other top experts on Nazi history from the various countries that they are searching in
More about the Monuments Men Foundation (because it's really cool)
Thrown into the spotlight recently by the movie The Monuments Men (see trailer below), according to the website, this foundation,
"...honors the legacy of the men and women who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, known as the "Monuments Men," and their unprecedented and heroic work protecting and safeguarding civilization's most important artistic and cultural treasures from armed conflict during World War II. Raising public awareness is essential to the Foundation's mission."
The website features a list of the most wanted works of art and documents, a tip line where you can share information on any of these pieces, and stories about recent discoveries that have been made!
It's a fascinating organization, and if the series captures your interest, I highly recommend signing up for the Monuments Men newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest news.
Here's what you need to know
Premiere Date: October 24 at 10 pm ET/PT on HISTORY (full episodes will be available after airing on HISTORY.ca)
Nazi Treasure Tipline: Viewers who may have a lead on a piece of looted treasure can contact 1-866-994-4287 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos are all courtesy Hunting Nazi Treasure
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