In the hunt for the lost books of the Rome Synagogue Library, I notice that the lead Italian investigator is following the trail into Russia. The report uses the euphemism “sort of trophy art” when it introduces the concept of Trophy Brigades which were actual units of Soviet troops. The US (and Allies) has its Monuments Men, now receiving pleasant attention from the movie The Rape of Europa and Robert Edsel’s passionate support for them: http://www.robertedselblog.com/index.php/2006/06/21/finding-the-monuments-men-a-progress-report. Now the Russsians introduced their own artistic-types who had a singular mission as well. This was to retrieve precious spoils of war from the European Theatre as revenge and replenishment for the utter spoliation of cultural treasures destroyed by the Nazis.
Seems that the Monuments Men and the Trophy Brigades were in direct competition, but God knows there was enough buried treasure in the region to go around. But it is troubling to learn that the highest ranking Monument Man (see Monument Man Gone Wrong in this blog) in Germany was found to have given the Soviets advance coordinates of two Berlin Towers where a huge stash of paintings were located. But maybe he thought the Soviets would hand it over to the MMFA’s Collection Point. Or maybe he was working for them.
Although the MMFA was originally set up to be a shared program between the US and British, records show that there was tremendous friction between the Allies in this division. Indeed, there were two controlling MMFA headquarters on the continent in 1944; that of the Communications Zone in Paris, usually called "Com Z", and that of the Supreme Headquarters Allies Expeditionary Force, 18 miles away in Versailles, customarily shorted to SHAEF. As Stratton Hammond, then US ranking operations officer for the MMF&A in France would later query, “who was running the show?".