After fighting his way across Europe during World War II, John Pistone was among the U.S. soldiers who entered Adolf Hitler’s home nestled in the Bavarian Alps as the war came to a close.
Making his way through the Berghof, Hitler’s home near Berchtesgaden, Germany, Pistone noticed a table with shelves underneath. Exhilarated by the certainty of victory over the Nazis, Pistone took an album filled with photographs of paintings as a souvenir.
“It was really a great feeling to be there and we knew, by that time, he was on his last leg,” Pistone told The Associated Press.
Sixty-four years after Pistone brought the album home to Ohio, the 87-year-old has learned its full significance: It’s part of a series compiled for Hitler featuring art he wanted for his “Fuhrermuseum,” a planned museum in Linz, Austria, Hitler’s hometown.
Pistone’s album is expected to be formally returned to Germany in a ceremony at the U.S. State Department in January. Germany has 19 other albums discovered at the Berchtesgaden complex that are part of a 31-album collection of works either destined for or being considered for the Linz museum.
Pistone’s 3-inch thick, 12-pound album’s journey from obscurity began this fall when a friend became curious about the book sitting on Pistone’s bookshelf.
The friend discovered after some Internet searching that the Dallas-based Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art was involved in 2007 in the restitution of two other albums that were part of a series documenting art stolen by the Nazis from Jewish families.
Its founder, Robert Edsel, who while living in Italy for a time after selling his oil and gas business became interested in what was done to protect art in World War II, traveled to Ohio this fall to examine Pistone’s album. Seeing it convinced him that Pistone had one of the missing albums of the series on the planned museum.
Stamped on the album’s spine is “Gemaldegalerie Linz” — Gemaldegalerie means picture gallery in German — and the Roman numerals for 13. It still has a sticker from the book’s binder in Dresden. …
read more: WWII veteran had Hitler’s art book on bookshelf – Yahoo! News.