Jonathan Petropoulos


On his book Göring's Man in Paris: The Story of a Nazi Art Plunderer and His World

Cover Interview of March 24, 2021


I think the book has many implications—about the nature of the art world, about the nexus of culture and barbarism (the Nazis devoted so much time to art and yet murdered systematically), and about the fate of Nazi looted artworks after the war; but the point I would emphasize here is that there is still so much to uncover. History is accretional, and while I have made my contribution here, I look forward to others continuing to add to the story.

To begin writing this story, it was important that I go and meet Bruno Lohse in 1998, and that I continued to interview him right up until his death in March 2007. Lohse agreed to meet with me for a number of reasons. I had done a Ph.D. at Harvard University and had come to know two of the other OSS officers who had interrogated Lohse at war’s end (Rousseau died in 1973 and I never met him). The two OSS officers had also attended Harvard and Lohse held them (and the university) in particularly high regard. The fact that I could speak and correspond with him in German was critical. Over the years, Lohse became more relaxed and expansive when telling his stories, and these stories served as one of the pillars of this book. I could check them against the extant documentation and talk to those in his circle in order to form a picture of his postwar career.

rorotoko.comAuthor with Dr. Bruno Lohse in 1999.

Lohse sold valuable paintings to museums in Germany, Switzerland, and the United States. In the last years of his life, around 48 pictures that he owned, including works by Monet, Renoir, Nolde, and Albrecht Dürer, were found. These works were worth millions of dollars. How he became such a wealthy individual and established networks that spanned Western Europe and North America is a big part of this story.

I don’t have all the answers, but I think I was able to frame the story and fill in some of the gaps. There is still more work to be done.