Austria, Belgium, USA and the Province of Styria honor Silent Heroes of the Salzkammergut in Altaussee

„Return of Lam Gods“

First of all, to point it out clearly – it is just a nice model of it. Last weekend in Altaussee (Province of Styria) in the JUFA-Hotel and in the Salzwelten there was honored the mission of a group of brave people. Austrian miners and courageous civilians saved Lam Gods and the Brugger Madonna of Michelangelo – two of the most famous art treasures of your country – and thousands of other paintings before destroying by Nazi-bombs. This happened in the last days of World War II. in April 1945 in Altaussee in Austria. Therefore it was possible that the Monuments Men of the US-Army brought back these art treasures in June 1945 undamaged to Belgium. It was a so called miracle. Until the last weekend, the 30th of September 2016, nobody in Austria and also in Belgium said thank you to the mission of these silent heroes.

The commemoration ceremony in Altaussee was followed by Mr. Ludo Collin, chancellor of the diocese of Gent, Willem Van de Voorde, Ambassador of Belgium, Mr. Steven Hubler from the US-Embassy, Mr. Karlheinz Kopf, Second Chairman of the Austrian Parliament, Mr. Christian Buchmann, Minister of Styria, Mr. Günter Dörflinger, Executive Director of Christof Industries, Mr. Hannes Androsch, Shareholder and chairman of the Austrian Salinen AG and representatives of the regional communities and organizations. The Austrian Post publishes a special stamp because of this event which will be presented on October 12th 2016 in Vienna.

The Nazis robbed Lam Gods and the Brugger Madonna during World War II in Belgium and hidden them in the salt mine of Altaussee in Austria. A few weeks before the end of World War II the Nazis wanted to blow up by bombs the salt mine, where the art treasures had been brought. The miners prevented this crime in the last moment by bringing the bombs out of the salt mine and made it impossible to enter the salt mine. Because of their rescue mission thousands of paintings and sculptures could be handed over to the Monuments Men of the US-Army after the end of World
War II.

Hundred thousand visitors until today admire every year Lam Gods in Gent and the Madonna of Michelangelo in Brugge. Honoring also this mission of the Austrian miners and the Monuments Men Oskar Stocker, an Austrian artist, created paintings of the good and the bad, which had be shown in an exhibition.

On October 12th 2016 in Gent there will be presented restored parts of Lam Gods – with a sensational result: During restoring work there had been discovered the original painting of Van Eycks brilliant art work.

It was a very special symbolic gesture: Ludo Collin, Chancellor of the diocese Gent handed over a model of Lam Gods in the scale of 1:5 to Christian Buchmann, Minister of the Province of Styria. Lam Gods “return” on this way to the salt mine of Altaussee reminding to the mission of the brave Austrians and the Monuments Men.

In his speech the well known Austrian actor and writer Mr. August Schmölzer analyzed the cruelties of the Nazi-regime regarding to the destinies of human being. His main issue ,A human being is a human being – wherever it comes from’.

Yasmin Hafedh, one of the most famous slam poets in Austria touched with her spontaneity and wit in her poetry on stage of the salt lake in the salt mine. The slam poet has specially made a post for Altaussee. It was a world premiere, the first time slam poetry took place in a salt mine deep in a mountain of Austria.

A great surprise for the audience was the incomparable sound of the Astberger Alphornbläser of Werfenweng.

Ahead of the commemoration ceremony there was a two-day workshop in memory of Katharina Hammer. She died six months ago and was one of the first researchers on Nazi-art-robbery in Salzkammergut. ‘Facts and myths of the rescue of the art treasures’ was the title of the workshop. Historians and researchers analyzed and discussed the newest knowledge of the former events in Altaussee.

Photos: Steiermarkmagazin Klipp/Heimo Ruschitz