I have previously watched films on the concentration camps, and on Hitler and his generals, but this is the first film that I have seen discussing how the art in each country was stripped from the lands and its people. In Poland alone, almost 6,000 pieces of art is still unaccounted for. The numbers are staggering. The Rape of Europa highlights on the devastation and cruelty of WWII while commenting on the greed of the armies and their leaders, along with the hardship of attempting to straighten out the details 70 years later.
I find it fascinating how many different personas of Hitler there are in documentaries and movies. I have previously thought that it was just different interpretations of the same information. This film, paired with The Nazi Temple of Doom that was released in 2013, is leading me to the understand that the basic root of the difference is not in the interpretation, but in the fact that Hitler had a lot of hate and greed within him. This hatred was not just directed at the Jewish people, it was also directed in how people expressed themselves through their art. In Hitler’s mind, he was the only person who could say whether the work was “good” or not. I feel that it is a vindictive motivation directed at the art world because he had previously been denied an entrance into a prestigious school. Who else but a scorned bitter artist could call Matisse, Van Gogh and Picasso “degenerate”?
This film did a wonderful job of balancing the history with the impact that the war still has on the art world today. The interviews from survivors and the monument men added the human element that was needed in order to discuss a deeply penetrating subject. However, I was disappointed by the last 15 minutes of the film. Through the majority of the film I did not feel any biased nature to the information being presented. It was educational, visual and a side of the story that is not heard very often. It highlighted on how important it is to the descendants of the victims and to the human world to find and identify the missing works that had disappeared through the war. With the introduction of Stalin’s Trophy Brigade, I feel that the true nature of the film was revealed. The last few interview clips painted an image of the Russian people that was reminiscent of Hitler and his greed. I understand that the film was created to educate and make people aware of the staggering numbers of missing art objects, but it didn’t need to take that direct of an approach in the conclusion of the film.