The Real-Life Director of the Wiesbaden Collecting Point
Monuments Man and architect Captain Walter I. Farmer, the director of the Wiesbaden Collecting Point, is the only real life character to appear in The Roses Underneath. When I began work on the novel some four years ago, little information existed online about the individual Monuments Men or their work. After trying for months to research the Wiesbaden Collecting Point, which is the setting for the book, I located a copy of his memoir, The Safekeepers: A Memoir of the Arts at the End of World War II (Berlin & New York: de Gruyter, 2000), in which he details the challenges of transforming the bombed-out Landesmusem into the Collecting Point. This information was invaluable because it was the only reference I could find anywhere naming the Landesmuseum as the location of the Collecting Point. With this information in hand, my story finally had a place and I booked a research trip to Wiesbaden. Today the Landesmuseum is a lovely museum but displays no reference to its history as the Collecting Point. Captain Farmer’s account was my only detailed source of information.
Among his many distinguished post-war achievements, I was surprised to learn that Walter Farmer was a founder (and first director of the board) of the Contemporary Art Museum of Houston. He passed away in 1997 and his memoir was published posthumously. By all accounts he was an extremely honorable and principled man and I hope I have served his memory well in my story.