Short, direct, concise, active writing improves clarity. A bibliography is required, as this is not simply a reflection or response paper. More paper guidance is available on the course Blackboard site.
Your memo should cite at least four sources, three of them scholarly (defined as a source that cites its own sources). The memo should be about 3 pages double-spaced, or about 750 to 900 words. It is
Clear, concise, direct, active writing is best. A memorandum like this should be written in formal writing.
Here are some writing tips:
Do not start a sentence with “there is” or an undefined “it” (“it is clear that…” etc.).
Avoid second person (you) and unnecessary passive voice. If the doer of the action is known, make the doer of the action the subject.
Avoid throat-clearing (“it is important to add that…”), legalisms (“null and void”), and wordy phrases (“when it comes to,” “the fact that”). Also: unbury verbs (say “violate” not “in violation of”).
Use the simplest verb form possible. Avoid unnecessary helping verbs.
Avoid the word “being” since it often signifies a passive voice gerund or participle.
Avoid weasel words: “many people say that” or “many studies show that” unless you are proving it.
WATCH PRONOUNS! Make sure pronouns are clear and that the number and gender agree.
For the avoidance of doubt, I will not count formatting (for instance, making it “look” like a memorandum) against the word count or page count.
The following prompt is to be used for the final paper:
You are an American soldier who was drafted into Gen. George S. Patton’s army division before the invasion of Normandy in 1944. Prior to this, you were working at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, as the head of the provenance division. As the army advanced across Europe, your division encountered enormous caches of art, much of it confiscated from Jewish or refugee families or from prominent art collections and churches. While some of the art was stored in cellars or castles for safekeeping from air raids and looting, some, no doubt, was taken for profit by shady art dealers, Nazi officials, or hungry townspeople looking for a quick trade.
Because of your background in art history, you join the Monuments Men, an attachment to the U.S. military that specializes in finding, tracing, and restituting artwork. The Monuments Men quickly make some important discoveries: the Veit Stoss alterpiece from the Krakow Cathedral and the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire were found in Nuremberg. Hitler’s enormous personal art collection was in the salt mines at Altaussee in Austria. Castles such as Neuschwanstein in southern Bavaria are filled not only with paintings, but with furniture, tapestries, books, archival records, antiquities, holy relics, and many other cultural artifacts. Much of Italy’s famous art is still in the neutral Vatican. The Monuments Men sets up the “Central Collecting Point” (CCP) at the Fuhrerbau building in Munich, Germany, the former Nazi Party headquarters, where all works of art are sorted and catalogued. Many, many paintings taken from Jewish art collectors are starting to appear in museum collections.
Gen. Patton is concerned, however, that his boss, Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, does not know the sheer scale of the task. The Monuments Men must restitute hundreds of thousands of works of art, and a total number of pieces in the millions—surely the staff is inadequate. You have additional concerns. The Soviets are advancing westward, and art that falls into their hands is shipped back to Russia. American soldiers can’t resist taking anything shiny they can find, and desperate looters have picked much of the area clean. The works of art are not protected from the elements and risk permanent damage or destruction. The sooner they get home, the better.
Gen. Patton tells you to write an urgent memo to Gen. Eisenhower explaining the problem of looted or missing artwork. You have recently traveled from Munich to Vienna, stopping in Nuremberg and Budapest, looking at the destruction. Your memo to Gen. Eisenhower should include some or all of the following:
A descriiption of the overall problem of Nazi-affected art. Why is this matter urgent?
Describe one or more works of art that you saw on your travels. Why are these pieces important? To whom do they rightfully belong? Why were they taken?
What efforts should be made at restitution? (If the works you chose were purchased rather than confiscated, what should be done about the current owners? If the works you chose have no living heirs or the heirs cannot be discerned, what should be done with the artifacts? If the works you chose came from a museum or church, how can they be returned?)