George Clooney and the cast of 'The Monuments Men' were a huge hit at the German premiere during the 64th Berlinale International Film Festival at the Berlinale Palast on February 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.
Directed by George Clooney, the historically true account of the repatriation of artworks during World War II, stars Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban and Clooney himself.
Front and center was WWII veteran Harry Ettlinger, who was part of the original task force to locate, sort and return the stolen art during the war.
Ettlinger and his family are from Karlsruhe, Germany but relocated to the United States after the rise of Hitler’s Nationalist Socialist Party, precisely the day after his Bar Mitzvah on September 24, 1938, eventually arriving in the US on October 9th.
Some six years after his arrival in the United Stages, Ettlinger was drafted into the Army and found himself back in Europe as an infantryman in January 1945.
Initially assigned to the 99th Infantry Division to join the counterattack in the Battle of the Bulge, Ettlinger’s German skills meant that he was pulled from going into combat on his nineteenth birthday and reassigned as an interpreter for the Nuremberg war trials.
But while in Munich awaiting his reassignment, Ettlinger volunteered his services to the MFA&A (Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives) section under Lieutenant Commander James Rorimer.
In mid-May of 1945, Ettlinger even got to assist with the interview of Hitler’s personal photographer Heinrich Hoffmann.
Eventually in August 1945 to July 1946, Ettlinger, along with Lieutenant Dale Ford supervised the underground operations at the Nazi repository in the Heilbronn-Kochendorf salt mines, where several German museum treasures were kept to protect them.
In addition, the stained glass windows from Strasbourg Cathedral, which had been removed by French authorities for safe keeping at the onset of the war and later sent to Heilbronn by the Nazis, were repatriated to France.
Ettlinger helped to empty the mines of some 900 works of art and reportedly, most of the treasures later went back to their German institutions.
While writer Robert M. Edsel joined the team at the Berlinale, fans of Cate Blanchett, who by the way finessed a pretty good French accent playing the role of Claire Simone, missed her on the red carpet…
Also attending the Berlin premiere were several politicians including German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Culture and Media Minister Monika Gruetters, former Brandenburg Minister President Matthias Platzeck and his wife Jeanette Platzeck, the American Ambassador to Germany John B. Emerson, his wife Kimberly Marteau Emerson and daughters Hayley and Taylor, as well as German actor Ulrich Matthes and German model Toni Garrn.
Enjoy the slideshow and video of 'The Monuments Men' premiering during 64th Berlinale in Berlin…