February 7, 2014 at 9:29 am

History Student Explores U.S. Looting of German Civilian Possessions in WWII

While the Monuments Men movie depicts German looting of Europe’s cultural treasures, History Ph.D. student Seth Givens writes about U.S. looting of German civilian possessions.

Givens, a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department, published “Liberating the Germans: The US Army and Looting in Germany during the Second World War,” in War in History, v. 21, n. 1, January 2014, pp. 33-54.

“As the U.S. Army drove deep into Germany in early 1945, American soldiers looted civilian possessions on a large scale. While GIs did take items in Allied countries, what occurred in Germany was different and more extensive. Servicemen justified their actions by claiming wartime necessity, opportunities for profit or trade, keepsakes, and revenge for Nazi atrocities. Researching Americans looting in Germany provides the full narrative of war’s end, and troops’ interaction with a public that was still considered the enemy. Drawing on memoirs, journals, letters, interviews, and official U.S. Army documents, this work seeks to extrapolate the reasons why GIs looted, while outlining the motivations of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force to stop such actions,” according to his abstract.

Seth Givens

Seth Givens

War in History is a leading peer-review journal in its field. To complete the article, Givens conducted oral history interviews and carried out extensive primary research in multiple archives. His research was supported in part by funding from the Cantigny First Division Foundation, based in Chicago.

Givens is a specialist in U.S. military history and is completing his dissertation under the supervision of Dr. Ingo Trauschweizer, Associate Professor of History. His dissertation examines the US presence in Berlin during the Cold War.”


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