Poland

This painting was looted by the Nazis, then seized from my living room

“This painting was looted by the Nazis, then seized from my living room”

by Craig Gilmore via “LA Times”

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Two agents from U.S. Homeland Security’s ICE unit arrived at my door in September looking for a Polish lady — not a person, but a painting: Melchior Geldorp’s “Portrait of a Lady.” She had, they informed me, been looted by the Nazis from the National Museum in Warsaw.

Unsure if these gentlemen were indeed who they claimed to be, I didn’t invite them in. But I knew exactly what they were seeking: My partner, David, and I had purchased this very portrait — ostensibly the work of a different artist — a decade earlier from a major auction house in New York. 

Upon their leaving, I stood dumbfounded, holding a packet of information about the alleged provenance of our painting. After calling David at work to drop this bombshell, I began a Googling frenzy, eventually bringing me to Poland’s Division for Looted Art website. Seconds later I was gawking at an old black-and-white photo of our beloved lady, a beautiful portrait painted on oak panel in 1628. Tears welled in my eyes with the realization that, without question, if this were true we needed to do our duty and get her safely home.

Being an opera singer, I was among a group of vocalists on a government-sponsored tour of Israel some years ago. During a visit to a community center for Holocaust survivors I was asked to sing. The emotion of being surrounded by people who had prevailed through such unimaginable horrors was overwhelming, and I found myself unable. Excusing myself, I attempted to make up for it by spinning several of the ladies around the dance floor — all the while trying not to look down at the numbers tattooed on their wrists. 

Now this memory flooded back to me, and I found myself once again in tears, hyper-aware of how Nazi atrocities affect us still to this day.

The toll of World War II in Poland — including the deaths of 6 million Poles, Jews, and other outcasts, including homosexuals — is unimaginable. Being gay men, David and I feel a personal connection with these losses and are conscious of how political shiftings can lead to vulnerability. This, added to the knowledge that Poland’s LGBTQ community is still in a struggle for its basic rights, has weighed heavily on our minds. 

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Men claim to find Nazi train loaded with treasure in Poland

“Men claim to find Nazi train loaded with treasure in Poland”

via “Yahoo News

Men claim to find Nazi train loaded with treasure in Poland

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — According to Polish lore, a Nazi train loaded with gold, artworks and weapons vanished into a mountain at the end of World War II, as the Germans fled the Soviet advance. Now two men claim they know the location of the mystery train and are demanding 10 percent of its value in exchange for revealing its location.

Historians say the existence of the train has never been conclusively proven, but authorities are not passing up this chance at possibly recovering treasures that locals and the government have sought for 70 years.

“We believe that a train has been found. We are taking this information seriously,” Marika Tokarska, an official in the southwestern Polish district of Walbrzych, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

She said her office received two letters this month from a law firm representing the men, a Pole and a German who have chosen to remain anonymous, saying they are seeking 10 percent of the value of the train’s contents for revealing its location. The documents from the lawyers say the train is 150-meters (490-feet) long and loaded with guns, valuables and precious metals, but do not specify where it is. Authorities say they are willing to pay the reward if the information pans out.

A lawyer for the men, Jaroslaw Chmielewski, compared the find to the “wreck of the Titanic” in an interview on a local radio station.

Tokarska said that hiring a law firm gives a degree of credibility to the two men’s claims, as do indications that they are familiar with the train’s contents. But there are also reasons for caution: The first letter included some references to the area’s topography that indicated they might not know the area very well.

Joanna Lamparska, an author who has written about the train and the region’s history, says she believes it could be a scam. . . . .

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