Having only a shallow familiarity of renaissance-era art, sculpture, and architecture, I had no idea what to expect when starting The Rape of Europa. I found myself appalled by what the Nazi party had managed to do during WWII, with not only a mass genocide of Jewish and Slavic people and culture, but also a need to rule all of Europe and their art. Moments like when the Winged Victory of Samothrace had to descend her staircase had me holding my breath and feeling as the curators did during the evacuations of so many precious art pieces, and knowing that people like Dean Keller and the Monuments Men fought to save what they could has changed the way I will perceive any piece of art on display.
The Rape of Europa is a film that can impact our class because I know it personally has changed the way I approach any piece on display, not only thinking about its composition, but also the journey it took to get to its respective museum. With the title of our course, Museums as Public Spaces in mind, it only intensifies the history of art during WWII, and how it could have directed this course today. Had the outcome of the war been different, we may have been looking at the Lintz museum websites instead of the Louvre, and many famous works such as DaVinci’s Mona Lisa may have been lost instead of Raphael’s Portrait of a Young Man, since the Mona Lisa had been hidden in the countryside and the Raphael had been plundered.
Although the film appeared to be only showing the plundering of the Nazi Party during World War II, I do not find it to be biased. I believe this because although the Soviet Union had begun to steal from Germany toward the end of the war, Hitler and the Nazi Party had a vast appreciation for art and had even created a social norm of high ranking military officers collecting fine art. They were the main party that invaded countries systematically solely for the acquisition of art as commissioned by the Führer himself to be relocated to his future Lintz Museum. Hitler had an immense fascination for art, but also felt that if it wasn’t up to his Aryan ideal, then it was to be destroyed. And although the film depicts solely the Nazi invasion and acquisition of art, it also shows the perspective of the refugees who had seen their art destroyed by both allied and axis powers.