The Painted Queen: August 20, 1945

November 19, 2013 // Monuments Men

This wonderful article in the Smithsonian Magazine inspired a key scene in The Roses Underneath. I deliberately started the novel on August 15, 1945 so that I could include it in the plot. The Head of Nefertiti also plays a role in the story. I just love this description from the article (a fictional version of James Rorimer is being played by George Clooney in the movie, natch):

The painted bust of Queen Nefertiti still lives in Berlin today.

The painted bust of Queen Nefertiti still lives in Berlin today.

“Lindsay was there to greet the first convoy on the morning of August 20, 1945, when 57 heavily loaded trucks, escorted by armed tanks, rumbled up to the Wiesbaden Collecting Point. Capt. Jim Rorimer rode like a proud potentate at the head of the motorcade, a bumper-to-bumper procession of artwork stretching miles from Frankfurt. As the first trucks backed up to the Wiesbaden storage areas and began to unload their cargo without incident, Rorimer turned to Lindsay. “Good work you’re doing,” he barked before racing off to his next crisis. “And that,” says Lindsay, “is the only compliment I ever got in my whole time in the Army.”

After the brutalities of a long war, those gathered at Wiesbaden were particularly touched when one old friend showed up that morning. Germans and Americans alike heaved a collective sigh of relief as the crate containing Queen Nefertiti rolled onto the docks. “The Painted Queen is here,” a worker cried. “She’s safe!” Having escaped Berlin, survived burial in the mines, rattled up the bombed-out roads to Frankfurt and endured seclusion in the vaults of the Reichsbank, the beloved statue had finally arrived.

She would have plenty of company in Wiesbaden, where the cavalcade of trucks kept coming for ten days straight, disgorging new treasures in a steady stream. By mid-September, the building was brimming with antiquities from 16 Berlin state museums, paintings from the Berlin Nationalgalerie, silver from Polish churches, cases of Islamic ceramics, a stash of antique arms and uniforms, thousands of books and a mountain of ancient Torahs.”

Read the whole article:


About the author

C.F. Yetmen is a writer and consultant specializing in architecture and design. She is co-author of The Owner’s Dilemma: Driving Success and Innovation in the Design and Construction Industry and a former publisher of Texas Architect magazine. The Roses Underneath is her first novel.