My name is Robert Edsel. I represent a group of WWII heroes known as "The Monuments Men" who rescued great cultural treasures of Europe from the destruction of WWII and theft by the Nazis. Ask me anything.
While living in Florence Italy, I wondered how so much of the world's great cultural treasures survived the most destructive conflict in history and who were the people that saved them. It seemed a simple question, especially given all that's been written about WWII. However years would pass before I would come to know and understand the epic role of the heroes known as the Monuments Men. In 2007, I founded The Monuments Men Foundation for the preservation of art to preserve these heroes' legacy and put that legacy to use to avoid problems such as the aftermath of looting the national museum of Iraq in Baghdad in 2003, and to illuminate the path home for the hundreds of thousands of works of art and documents still missing since World War II.
I've written three books on this subject, the last of which, Saving Italy, was a New York Times bestseller. My second book, The Monuments Men, will soon be brought to the big screen in a major feature film produced, directed by and starring George Clooney and a remarkable all-star cast including Bill Murray, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, Jean Dujardin, and Bob Balaban.
these are all wonderful questions: thank you very much for forwarding them. If you believe culture matters, if you are embarrassed about what took place in Iraq in 2003, if you enjoy the mere idea much less the opportunity of visiting Europe and its extraordinary museums and churches, and all they contain, then please share with your friends the story of the men and women who risked their lives to preserve this for us today.