Catalogue description United States draft directive on control of works of art and monuments. US draft...

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Details of FO 371/39231
Reference: FO 371/39231
United States draft directive on control of works of art and monuments.

US draft directive on the control of works of art and monuments dated December 1944 with a memorandum by the US representative of 23 November submitting the directive for consideration by the European Advisory Commission [EAC]. This early draft of the directive, issued by the Commanders-in-Chief of the US, UK and USSR forces of occupation [with the evident exclusion of France], is aimed at implementing the adoption of identification, control and preservation measures of 'all objects or materials of artistic, historic, scientific and other cultural importance or value' in the areas of Allied occupation.

The document includes comments from the Economic and Industrial Planning Staff [EIPS] and the Foreign Office underlining the necessity to use the draft as a platform and make changes to it, as the draft 'goes a great deal further than [...] either desirable or possible' and some paragraphs needed substantial re-drafting. This piece includes correspondence and minutes on the matter which state the lack of any directive on the subject from the UK and offers suggestions and criticism for the re-drafting of the directive. According to this document, all the comments from several UK departments should be directed to Brigadier French of the War Office, who would later present them to the EAC.

Further comments and minutes dated December 1944-January 1945 commenting on how the main necessity at that point would be the 'freezing' of any works of art in the German Reich in order to ensure their conservation, classification and eventual restitution to the Allied countries.

This piece also includes a December 1944 report by the Archaeological Adviser for the Directorate of Civil Affairs, Sir Leonard Woolley, who was consulted at the time of the drafting of the original directive and considered it 'for the most part acceptable in broad principle' and suggested a few corrections, in particular regarding the fact that 'the planners were anxious to cover the whole subject rather than to confine themselves to the functions of the respective Commanders-in-Chief' and that 'the whole set-up was still so nebulous that they had to base their rulings on intelligent anticipation of what the machinery would be, and they could not always anticipate correctly'. The Adviser also underlined how at the time of the drafting, no projects for a Restitution Commission were under way so the art experts to whom the draft referred would have assisted the Zone Commanders. This, according to him, was impossible as the Secretary of State had ruled that the responsibility of identifying works of art for the purpose of restitution was 'outside the scope of the fighting services'.

More correspondence from Mr Troutbeck of the Foreign Office to Brigadier French with further comments and suggestions, dated December 1944-January 1945.

Note: This document forms part of the Looted Art Collection; records selection and descriptions reproduced by the kind permission of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe.
Date: 1944
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department: File 16568
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

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