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April 28, 2017 at 9:40 am

‘Hunting Nazi Treasure’ Documentary Taps History Grad Student for Research Expertise

Seth Givens, a history doctoral candidate, poses with files from the Cornelius Ryan Collection in the Mahn Center at Alden Library on Friday, September 27, 2013. (Photo by Tyler Stabile/University Libraries)

Seth Givens, a history doctoral candidate, poses with files from the Cornelius Ryan Collection in the Mahn Center at Alden Library. (Photo by Tyler Stabile/University Libraries)

Seth Givens, a Ph.D. student in the History Department, recently began assisting in the production of Hunting Nazi Treasure, an eight-part investigative documentary television series co-produced by History Channel-Canada and More4 (Channel 4) in the United Kingdom.

In part, the show continues the work of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) section of the Allied forces in its search for some of the hundreds of thousands of pieces that have been missing since World War II. Robert Edsel, founder and chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art and author of The Monuments Men, is the program host. There are also two investigators who appear on camera in search for the missing objects.

Edsel brought Givens onto the production team because of the latter’s work for him as a researcher at the Monuments Men Foundation, a Dallas-based organization that continues the MFAA’s mission. Givens’ role in the documentary series is that of a historian and researcher, making extensive use of the historiographic knowledge and research skills he has developed as a graduate student in the History Department at Ohio University.

On camera, Givens’s findings are relayed to Edsel and the investigators, who then follow up the leads and go across the world to tell different stories.

“The research on the show is authentic and rigorous,” Givens says. “It’s not your standard History Channel fare. We spent several months before filming doing research in Allied and German military, diplomatic, and intelligence records, some of it in the National Archives at College Park, MD.”

The production team has filmed on four continents, from England to Russia and everywhere between, as well as Algeria, Chile, Corsica, and the United States. Filming is scheduled to end May 2017, and the show will broadcast in Canada and the United Kingdom in September 2017. The U.S. premiere is in March 2018, with the announcement of the broadcaster coming soon.

Givens is currently completing his dissertation, titled  “Cold War Capital: The United States and the Fight for Berlin, 1945-94.” It  focuses on Berlin’s role in U.S. and allied policy and strategy toward Europe throughout the Cold War. The analysis combines military, diplomatic, political, and international history to analyze the evolution of U.S. diplomacy, NATO strategy, and joint military planning. Givens argues that Berlin was an asset to the United States, not the liability that it is often portrayed in the historiography, as it induced the Kremlin to moderate its behavior and fortified Western resolve. Ultimately, his work attempts to understand strategy formation and implementation in static situations where leaders seek to use military forces as a deterrent.

Givens completed four Ph.D. fields: U.S.  military history; U.S. presidential history; Soviet History; and World History. He is writing his dissertation under the supervision of Dr. Ingo Trauschweizer, Associate Professor of History at Ohio University.


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