World War 2 was the biggest conflict in history, encompassing the entire world, killing millions, displacing millions more, and seeing the very worst that humanity has to offer. But among all of this, another tragedy unfolded after it was discovered that some truly important pieces of artwork were lost and have yet to be recovered, or were completely destroyed forever.
When the Nazi regime began building up steam in Europe, they began to conquer many of the art capitals of the world, including the city of Paris, which contained thousands of priceless pieces of art. While much of it had initially been carried away to safety, all the rest was taken by the Nazis and locked away from the world. While almost all of it has since been recovered, some pieces have yet to be found. The Allies destroyed many of them accidentally, often during bombing raids on transport vehicles or vaults.
1. Portrait of a Young Man, Raphael
It was Poland’s most prized piece of art before being lost during the assault of the country, and was taken from the Czartoryski’s family collection in Krakow. It was reported missing at the end of the year, and while there have been some rumours that it was found in a Swiss bank vault, we’ve yet to see it emerge to the public.
2. Painter on His Way to Work, Vincent Van Gogh
Much of Van Gogh’s work has been lost over the years, and while we’ve managed to recover most of his collection, a few pieces have lost. This piece was originally taken by the Nazis, and was subsequently lost when they came under Allied bomb attack in the town of Magdeburg. The only reason we know it exists today is because of a number of recreations that were made before it went missing.
3. The Amber Room, Andreas Schluter
This world-famous chamber was decorated in panels of gold leaf and mirrors, and was located in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo, Saint Petersburg. To own this piece today you’d have to have won really big with AFL premiership betting as it would be worth a small fortune. Constructed during the 1700’s, the Palace was looted by an army group north of Germany and was brought back to Konigsberg for reconstruction. The whereabouts of the chamber are still unknown.
4. An Angel, Rembrandt van Rijn
Before the Nazis invaded in 1943, this piece was being stored in a French château in the countryside. It was then set aside to be added to Hitler’s planned museum later on, but was lost along with 162 other pieces.
5. The Stone Breaker, Gustave Courbet
The Stone Breakers was created by Gustave Courbet in 1849, and depicts two men mining for ore. The painting was stolen by Nazis and loaded into a transport truck that was headed for the castle of Konigstein, where it would be added to a collection of 154 other pieces. Allied forces bombed the truck during the transportation, and the painting was destroyed.