Bio image


Phillips, Cpl. John Marshall | Plaut, Lt. Cdr. James Sachs, USNR | Pomrenze, Col. Seymour J.

Plaut, Lt. Cdr. James Sachs, USNR  

Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Naval Intelligence, Director of the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU)

After serving with Naval Intelligence since 1942, Plaut was selected to lead the newly formed ALIU. Comprised of six officers and supporting staff, the ALIU was under the counterintelligence branch, Office of Strategic Services (OSS). From June 1945 to the spring of 1946, Plaut and his fellow ALIU officers operated from Alt Aussee, where they interrogated the leading figures in Nazi art looting operations. Plaut focused on the organization headed by Nazi Leader Alfred Rosenberg, known as the ERR, which initial focused on confiscating innumerable works of art and other possessions from Jewish collectors in France. He interrogated Bruno Lohse, a Munich art dealer who had been an executive officer with the ERR in Paris, and was widely considered to be an art advisor to Reichsmarshal Hermann Goring. (Dr. Lohse, now 92, lives in Munich). Without information gained as a result of Plaut’s tireless efforts, a great many looted artworks might never have been recovered.

Prior to the war, Plaut earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Harvard University in 1933 and 1935. He also briefly taught art history at his alma mater before becoming an assistant curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1935. Plaut was one of the founders and the first director of the Institute of Modern Art (later Contemporary Art) in Boston from 1939 to 1958. He was deputy United States Commissioner to the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958. In 1976, Plaut and his wife, Mary Friedlander Plaut, established Aid to Artisans to help craftsmen in developing countries market their works. In 1995, he spoke publicly about his work in the ALIU in a talk entitled “Investigation of the Major Nazi Art-Confiscation Agencies,” delivered at the “Spoils of War” symposium at the Bard Graduate Center in New York.

Visit Aid to Artisans, the organization started by the Plauts, which continues its mission today.


Copyrighted by Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art