During WWII, the Third Reich had a systematic policy of plundering artwork from countries they invaded. In occupied Poland, this took place on a massive scale. Over half a million individual works of art were taken over the course of the war, including countless national treasures.
But while some of these works of art were destined for the walls of high-ranking Nazi party officials and the planned Führermuseum, others were marked for destruction. In fact, there was one particular painting that the Germans were really keen to get rid of.
‘The Battle of Grunwald’ was painted by Jan Matejko in the late 19th century and portrayed a battle that had happened over 500 years ago, so why did the Third Reich want it gone so badly? And just how would it avoid being captured seeing as it was 10-metres long and weighed nearly a tonne?
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[00:58] How big is this painting then? [03:00] The evacuation begins [04:43] What makes this painting so wanted? [07:32] The journey continues and tragedy strikes [10:19] Time to hide this enormity somewhere safe... [14:48] ...with the hunt at its peak [16:09] The Germans are gone. What next? [18:20] Where is the painting today and is it worth seeing? [20:10] Credits
Prof. Maria Poprzęcka / for talking to us about the history of the painting and its incredible war-time adventures. Poprzęcka is a professor of Art History at the University of Warsaw and presents an art history show on Polish Radio.
Piotr Lisowski / for talking to us about the painting and its restoration, and sharing with us its many secrets. Lisowski is a paintings conservator at the National Museum in Warsaw.
The National Museum in Warsaw / for their assistance.
John Beauchamp / for becoming Piotr Lisowski's English voice. John is a seasoned radio journalist, currently working on Unseen Warsaw, a series of soundwalks located in Warsaw.
Grażyna Soczewka / for becoming the voice of Maria Poprzęcka. Grażyna is head of the Artists & Works section at Culture.pl and is our go-to voice for many of our videos.
Written & produced by Piotr Wołodźko
Edited by Adam Żuławski
Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak
Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Żuławski