GI’s Family Returns World War II Loot To Italy

Wed, 06/26/2013 - 09:40
Antique books taken from an Italian church during World War II were returned to Italy with the aid of a foundation dedicated to the conflict’s so-called ‘Monuments Men’. Eight antique books by Sir Isaac Newton and other historical figures were returned to Italy in a ceremony at the Italian Embassy in Washington DC. The volumes date from 1533 to 1789 and fell into the hands of Irving Tross of Chicago, now aged 96. In 1944, he was a radio operator with the US Army’s 88th Infantry Division. He found the books inside a church damaged by shelling. The books had been stored in crates hidden at the church by the University of Naples library during the Allied invasion of Italy. The precious books were returned thanks to the efforts of Tross’ family and the Monuments Men Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to the memory of the international team of art experts who recovered works of Italian and European art stolen by the Nazis in World War II before Adolf Hitler destroyed them. The foundation also seeks to aid the restitution of antiquities that were removed during the war. Robert Edsel of the foundation told ‘USA Today’: “These books are only the tip of the iceberg on what was lost during the war. Here we have a veteran in the twilight of his life doing the right thing.” Edsel is the author of the ‘Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis’ and ‘The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History’. Both titles tell the story of the efforts of Monuments Men during and after the war. ‘The Monuments Men’ is being adapted into a film of the same name directed by George Clooney. The actor will star in the movie, which is due for release next year.