On January 7, 1942, the Soviet government issued a report on German atrocities—including the destruction of cultural property—in Nazi-occupied Soviet territory that had been recaptured by Soviet troops. The report describes the wreckage as an “unheard-of picture of pillage, general devastation, abominable violence, outrage and massacre, perpetrated by the German Fascist occupants upon the noncombatant population during the German offensive, occupation and retreat.”

The Nazis systematically looted cultural property from the territories they occupied. Various German government agencies competed for the spoils, including the Rosenberg Institute for the Occupied Territories; the Ancestral Heritage Research and Teaching Society, which Reichführer-SS Heinrich Himmler supervised; and the SS Sonderkommando Kuensberg, which reported to Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. Semipermanent field offices or collection points with academically trained staff identified, inventoried, and dispatched items to Germany. Looting on a grand scale decreased when the balance of power on the Eastern Front shifted and the Germans went on the defensive.

The destruction of such museums as the Leo Tolstoy country estate in Iasnaia Poliana and the house-museum of composer Peter Tchaikovsky in Klin were widely used by Soviet propagandists and TASS artists as anti-Nazi fuel.

Petr Ashotovich Sarkisian. Fascist "Art Historians", December 1, 1942. Ne boltai! Collection, 0612.

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