I have always liked learning about world events and how they connect to my family and experiences. The usual way to learn about history is through reading a book, then seeing a movie made based on the book. I seem to do it the opposite, see the movie, read the book, and then learn about any connections there might be with me.
The movie "The Monuments Men" was a movie starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, and many other A-list actors. It is among one of my favorite movies about WWII of all time. The movie is based on the book "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History" by Robert M. Edsel.
The factual story is about a "Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section of the Allies, a small corps of mostly middle-aged men and a few women who interrupted careers as historians, architects, museum curators and professors to mitigate combat damage. They found and recovered countless artworks stolen by the Nazis" during World War II.
One of the hiding places the Nazi's used for the stolen art was a copper mine at Siegen, Germany, which is about 50 miles from the more well-known city of Cologne. Siegen is the area in Germany where the Holtzclaw family (and other allied families*) lived and can be documented as living in the region since the early 16th and 17th centuries. Family homes are still there. My Holtzclaw ancestors immigrated to Virginia from the area of Siegen in 1714. The Germanna Foundation is an ancestor society that documents the history of the immigrants from Siegen and sponsors yearly trips to Siegen so that descendants can learn about their heritage.
The following is a story written by a National Archives archivist regarding the Monuments Men and the mine at Siegen.
*Holtzclaw Allied Families from Germany:
Otterbach/Utterbach; Beer/Behr; Heimbach; Stuell
"The True Story of the Monuments Men", by Jim Morrison, Science Correspondent, February 7, 2014. Smithsonian Magazine. URL: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/true-story-monuments-men-180949569/
"The Monuments Men in April 1945: Siegen, Finally", by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives in College Park; National Archives, August 25, 2015
Holtzclaw, B.C., Ph.D., "The Genealogy of the Holtzclaw Family 1540-1935", University of Richmond, Va. 1936, Second Printing with New Index by Robert A. Hodge, 1990. The Germanna Record, Number 14
Holtzclaw, B.C., Ph.D., "Ancestry and jDescendants of the Nassau-Siegen Immigrants to Virginia 1714-1750", 1964; and 2019 Special Edition
Germanna Foundation. URL: https://germanna.org/
My name is Vicky, and after researching my family history since 1999, I have found amazing stories that need to be told. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!