Most Wanted: Documents

Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg Photo Albums

• Dimensions: 13.5 x 11.75 inches; 3 inches thick; Approximately 8 pounds

• Textured, brown leather covers with title pages reading: “Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg” followed by “Foto-Mappe Nr.” and the album number in Arabic numerals. The lettering is in a distinct calligraphic script.

• An inventory list may be on the inside front cover in a pocket

• Each page of the album contains: A photograph of one stolen item, a letter representing the family from which the item was stolen, and an inventory number

• Pages may be separated by tissue paper with a spider web-like pattern

• As many as 57 albums still missing

• Likely removed from Berchtesgaden in May 1945

These albums were created by the Third Reich’s Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) staff. This unit was assigned the responsibility for the confiscation of “ownerless” Jewish works of art. As the ERR staff looted the French collections, they created photograph albums cataloguing items of which Hitler and his curators could choose for the Führer’s Art Museum in Linz, Austria. Nearly 100 such volumes were created.

In May 1945, thirty-nine original ERR albums were discovered at Neuschwanstein by the Monuments Men. They had been stored there by the Germans along with records that documented their confiscations and thousands of looted items. These albums were subsequently taken to the Munich Central Collecting Point where they were used by the Monuments Men to assist in the restitution process. In late 1945, these albums were used as evidence at the Nuremberg trials to document the massive Nazi art looting operations.

Until recently it was believed that the remainingERRalbums had been destroyed during the latter days of World War II. Since 2007, The Monuments Men Foundation has recovered four more: ERR Albums 6, 7, 8 and 15. These were taken as souvenirs from the Berghof at Berchtesgaden by members of the 501st Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division and the 989th Field Artillery Battalion.

Today, all 43 ERR photo albums are property of the United States National Archives.