Shimkus Recognizes the Monuments Men
Washington - Coinciding with the theatrical release of The Monuments Men movie today, Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-15) announced his cosponsorship of H.R. 3658, to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the real life men of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program.
“It’s almost unbelievable,” Shimkus remarked. “This small group of men, only about 350 in all, were able to find and return nearly five million works of art stolen by the Nazis during World War II. A mission like that is unprecedented in the history of warfare.”
While initially charged with the protection of historic churches, cathedrals and monuments from Allied air and artillery strikes, the Monuments Men mission expanded in the last years of the war as they learned of Hitler’s order to destroy plundered cultural artifacts if Germany fell. The priceless relics rescued by the Monuments Men included works by Michelangelo, van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, and da Vinci.
“Recognizing them with the Congressional Gold Medal honors the sacrifices and successes of the Monuments Men in preserving western history and culture for the enjoyment and inspiration of future generations,” Shimkus said.
Eleven of the 350 Monuments Men have connections to Illinois -- seven of them (in bold below) in or around the 15th District:
- Charles Sattgast – Born in Mount Vernon, IL; BA at Southern Illinois University
- Lewis Williams – Born in Champaign, IL (1918); Professor at Northwestern
- Richard Barancik – Born in Chicago, IL (1924); BS in Architecture at University of Illinois; Architect in Chicago (1950-1993)
- Seymour Pomrenz – Educated at the Spertus College of Jewish Studies, the University of Chicago, and University of Illinois
- Walter Hauser – Educated at the University of Chicago
- Leslie Poste – PhD Graduate Library School at the University of Chicago (1958)
- John Skilton – Employed at the Chicago Art Institute
- Morrie Grinbarg – Employed at the Department of Art at University of Chicago
- Robert Hansen – Employed at Bradley University
- Henry Newton – Born in Rankin, IL (1896)
- Turpin Bannister – Professor of Architecture at the University of Illinois
- John Hetrick – Professor at University of Illinois
- Edwin Rae – Professor at the University of Illinois (1939-1979)
More information on the Monuments Men can be found on the Monuments Men Foundation website: www.monumentsmenfoundation.org/