Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Quotes: Paintings in Salt Mines

From The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel & Bret Witter (pages 305-306):

Viennese museums had been the first to store their art treasures at [the salt mine at] Altaussee, but the mine was soon requisitioned by Hilter for his personal use. Worried by increasing Allied air raids, the Fuhrer ordered all the treasures destined for his great museum at Linz, scattered until that time in several locations, sent deep into seclusion. It wasn't just the remoteness, or the relative convience to Linz, which was only about a hundred miles away, that made Altaussee ideal.

Dug straight into the side of a massive mountain, the horizontal mine was impregnable to aerial bombardment--even if the bombers could locate it in the vast Sandling mountain range. The salt in the walls absorbed excess moisture, leaving the humidity constant at 65 percent. The temperature varied only between 40 (in the summer, when the mine was coolest) and 47 degrees Fahrenheit (in the winter). The environment helped to preserve the paintings and prints, and metal objects such as armor could easily be protected against its corrosive effect by a thin layer of grease or gelatin. No one, not even Hitler, could have devised a more ideal natural hideaway for tons of stolen loot.

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