The Buxheim Charterhouse served during World War II as a repository for looted art, mostly from France, including the collections of Pierre David-Weill and various Rothschild estates, as well as from the Soviet Union. Beginning in 1943, it was used as a place to store the overflow from Neuschwanstein Castle, but its main function was that of a restoration center for art, as it included elaborately equipped ateliers and carpenter shops, along with housing for over 150 staff who worked for the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) of the Foreign Office of the National Socialist Party (Außenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP). Otto Klein, a professional art restorer from Cologne, was in charge of the restoration done on site, and he worked alongside his wife, Martha, whose primary responsibilities included the documentation of their efforts.
At the end of the war, on 3 May, 1945, First Lieutenant James Rorimer, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, drove through the village of Buxheim based on a tip and discovered a vast cache of looted art. He continued on to the much larger repository at Neuschwanstein, but members of the American military’s Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFA &A) branch took over the entire complex in December, 1945, in order to catalog and restore the art to its rightful owners. Leading this effort was Major (then Captain) Edward E. Adams of the Quartermaster Corps, who had just finished up similar efforts at Neuschwanstein Castle. He found mostly broken and damaged wood sculptures, chinaware, silver, tapestries, and about 200 paintings. The items that could be identified as French were separated first, cataloged, packaged and crated, and shipped to France in early March, 1946. The remaining materials were then identified and subjected to the same painstaking and careful process of packing. In total, about 5,000 items in 955 crates were eventually shipped by rail to the Central Collection Point in Munich by the summer of 1946.
“Looted Art Treasures Go Back to France,” by MAJ Edward Adams. Quartermaster Museum, Ft. Lee, Virginia
“The Monuments Men in May 1945: Buxheim and Neuschwanstein,” by Greg Bradsher, College Park.
Elena Velichko, “Otto Klein (1904-1995): Mitläufer, Profiteur oder Idealist?” Masters Thesis, 2018.