Film » Screens

Hate Rape

How Hitler ravaged the art world, one painting at a time.



Impressive in scope if unremarkable in style, The Rape of Europa provides a chronology of World War II as it was experienced by "David," "Mona Lisa," and other artistic treasures the Nazis plundered.

Though dryly executed and narrated by a staid Joan Allen, the documentary — which was featured at the Cleveland International Film Festival in March — is an excellent survey of the techniques employed by the Third Reich to not just demoralize but dehistoricize the countries it invaded. The fact that Hitler was an avid art collector (and a bitter art-school reject) made the looting not only professionally but personally rewarding.

Amassing a broad spectrum of interviewees, from the niece of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the subject of Klimt's stolen "gold portrait," to former "Monument Men" (Allied soldiers charged with guarding and recovering treasures), the directors move through the war, invasion by invasion, detailing the frantic measures each country undertook to protect its artistic heritage. With thousands of artworks still missing today and ongoing disputes about rights and restorations, this is not only a vital glimpse at an overlooked aspect of the war but also a reminder of its enduring legacies.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.