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Foreword by Robert Alexander Boyle

A seldom seen aspect of the US Army is mentioned in this fabulous New Yorker  story on just one Army Warehouse Full of captured Nazi Art too odious ever to be on display. 

This writer has seen similar trophies of war in the storage vaults of the West Point Museum. To put this in context, Adolph Hitler in a particular deranged promised to build the first museum dedicated to the defeat of the American Army. 

A side note - if you include the Revolution the Americans are 3-0 over the Germans.

When US General George S. Patton heard about Hitler's museum plans, Patton promised to go to Berlin himself and shoot the paper hanging son of a bitch.

What is not widely known is that a unit of Patton's Third Army crossed the Elbe early in April of 1945 with the specific purpose of an old school cavalry probe towards Berlin. Fervent nationalist this writer may be, there is little doubt of the fututlity of flinging 20,000 infantry with tanks into a maelstrom of three million Nazis and Four million Soviet soldiers squaring off in the ultimate grudge match for all eternity.

What derailed this would be dash to glory was they got lost by running east of the road maps. A Polish American in-law on that probe remarked early one morning  to his Sargent that they made a wrong right turn in the night, and instead of going north to Berlin they stumbled east to Poland, IE not Germany.

Sargent snarled to this bad news in typical form  "How the hell would a god damned private know that?"

Uncle Eddy replied, "Sarge, I can't read German but I can read Polish. I can read all of the signs here"

Evidently the Sargent passed this pathfinder point of reference up the chain of command to report the wrong turn and when it got all the way to Ike, he ordered them back to the west side of the Elbe.

This US cavalry probe beyond the Yalta demarcated lines for Allied occupation of Nazi Germany was later confirmed by hand written letters of a certain Captain Jarvis Janney written to his wife and sons back home in Maryland.  Janney was a marksman whose job was to execute Patton's fantasy of a single shot to end Adolph from afar. 

Janneys grand son David Janney found the letter, when I mentioned the story late Uncle Eddie he showed it to me. The stories matched to a tee.

Denied a chance at finishing off the  Führer, Pattons troops gathered up all the Nazi momentoes they could find. Not to venerate but to show the Austrian corporal just whose museum to whose demise would actually occur. This writer never knew a about the cache at Fort Belvoir but high over the Hudson in the vaults of the West Point Museum in the former Ladycliff Academy, are an abundance of Nazi trophies, the foremost of which is a Bavarian style wooden carved eagle, it would almost seem American except the large talons grip a swastika. Beneath that obvious spoil of war is a simple plaque:

Given by George S. Patton, Class of 1909

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Inside the U.S. Army’s Warehouse Full of Nazi Art


In the final days of the Second World War, a train loaded with relics of the collapsing Third Reich was speeding toward the Czech border when American pilots, flying P-47 fighters, spotted it and opened fire. The train ground to a halt in a forest, where German soldiers spirited the cargo away. They were pursued, not long afterward, by Gordon Gilkey, a young captain from Linn County, Oregon, who had been ordered to gather up all the Nazi propaganda and military art he could find. Gilkey tracked the smugglers to an abandoned woodcutter’s hut, where he pried up the floorboards and found what he was looking for: a collection of drawings and watercolors belonging to the German military’s high command. The cache had survived the strafing, only to be afflicted by mildew and a family of hungry mice. “They had eaten the ends off many pictures, large holes in a few, and gave all the cabin pictures an uneven deckle edge,” Gilkey wrote.

Read more on The New Yorker:

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You may also like to read:

Nazi S.S. diary reveals secret location of WWII treasure under a palace in Poland

German auction house withdraws Adolf Hitler artworks days before sale

Otto Krebs Collection: Spoils of War or Plunder in Peace?

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