Real story of the Monuments Men



The Friends of Webber Park Library invite you to a free event titled Fact and Fiction: Hollywood Meets the Monuments Men. Come and hear Lucia Wilkes Smith retell the story of these brave men who reclaimed stolen artifacts from the Nazis during WWII. Lucia will share her adventures while in New York meeting actor George Clooney at the premiere of the Hollywood film The Monuments Men, and also while in Washington D.C. at a Congressional Medal of Honor Ceremony for her relative and fallen monuments man Captain Walter Huchthausen. The event is on Thursday, March 24, 6 p.m., at the Webber Park Community Building, 4400 Dupont Ave. N.

In the Hollywood version of The Monuments Men, George Clooney and his all-star cast introduce us to the courageous efforts of a group of unlikely soldiers during WWII. The mission of these mostly middle aged art curators was to find, reclaim and protect the many art treasures that had been stolen by the Nazis during the war. Clooney’s screenplay is an adaptation of Robert M. Edsel’s book published in 2009, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. The book is non-fiction, and the result of Edsel’s impassioned journey to tell the story of the unsung heroes who saved much of the world’s greatest art. The movie depicts this beautiful story and is based on true events. It portrays the bravery of men who were willing to risk their lives to save and protect the legacy of artistic treasures that would have certainly been destroyed by Hitler if not recovered before the end of the war. In the movie, Jean Claude Clermont–played by French actor Jean Dujardin– was killed by enemy fire while in route to recover a treasured artifact.

This is where fact and fiction meet. There were two monuments men lost during this impassioned recovery effort. However, neither one was a French man named Jean Claude Clermont. One was an Englishman and the other a University of Minnesota architecture professor. This is where Lucia Wilkes Smith’s passion for truth will drive the story. In truth, Jean Claude Clermont is a fictionalization of her mother’s cousin Walter Huchthausen and he indeed did pay the ultimate price while rescuing art for all of civilization. Lucia will set the record straight, while also telling the story of Walter Huchthausen, a man with incredible passion for beauty, remarkable artistic talent of his own and an unstoppable courage. Come join the Friends of Webber Park Library on March 24 to find out more about this remarkable man and the truth regarding the Monuments Men.