Friday, April 13, 2012

The Quest of Walter Horn

Since even I was a little overwhelmed by the Rape of Europa, I was relieved to discover that Hitler's Holy Relics. The True Story of Nazi Plunder and the Race to Recover the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire was a breezy, quick read. Seriously. I finished it in one day.

Sidney Kirkpatrick based his novelized account of Dr. Walter Horn's search for royal regalia of the Holy Roman Empire on various historical documents including 30 hours of oral history interviews with Dr. Horn conducted at the request of Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

Horn, who earned a PhD in art history in his native Germany, left for the United States before the War and ended up as an instructor at the University of California, Berkeley. He became an US citizen and enlisted in the US Army in 1943. With his background he was a perfect fit for the Monuments Men. His quest was to find the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire which had gone missing at the end of the War. The story details the intricacies of Horn's investigation, his back story, and his rescue of his mother and half-sister from the Soviet Sector. Kirkpatrick also highlights the cult-like aspects of the Nazi regime. He can't be the only individual to have made this connection, but I'd never thought of it like this before. This interpretation was particularly striking to me as I had just finished reading The Rape of Europe which detailed the ways in which Hitler and his followers controlled the art world in Germany

The only thing that didn't seem to fit was the "conspiracy theory" about the Spear of Destiny (reported to be the spear from the Crucifixion) and it's connection to a secret order of Nazi Knights. It's hard to tell from the text whether Horn believed these stories or whether Kirkpatrick highlighted them to make his book more sensational. Other than this minor flaw, the book and Horns search is fascinating and worth a read.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...