Three members of the Unit, James Plaut, Theodore Rousseau, and Lane Faison, with the help of Dutch Army Intelligence officer Captain Jan Vlug, proceeded to Germany on May 20, 1945. They interrogated enemy art looting personnel captured after the submission of the Unit’s high priority list to field intelligence agencies. The Unit received authority from G-5, Headquarters, 12th Army Group, to proceed to the 3rd U.S. Army area. Once there, ALIU staff served as technical advisers to the Judge Advocate, 3rd U.S. Army, which--on behalf of the Judge Advocate (War Crimes), 12th Army Group--was conducting an investigation of German art looting.
On June 10, 1945, the ALIU established a special interrogation center at Alt Aussee, Austria, in conjunction with the Judge Advocate, 3rd U.S. Army, and operated there from that date through October 1, 1945, under joint command. Subsequently, the ALIU continued to use this location to conduct its interrogations until the spring of 1946.
At Alt Aussee, in close proximity to the salt mine where the greatest concentration of Nazi plunder from Western Europe was concealed, Plaut, Rousseau, and Faison divided their work so that each would report upon one of the most important looting programs. Rousseau was responsible for the investigation of the Goering Collection. Faison was responsible for investigating the activities of the planners of the projected Fuhremuseum at Linz, Austria. Plaut was responsible for investigating the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), the Nazi looting organization in France under Alfred Rosenberg.
While at Alt Aussee, MFA&A officers and others brought leading participants in Nazi art looting operations, suspects, and informants to the ALIU for interrogation. Plaut and Rousseau personally apprehended Gustav Rochlitz, one of Goering’s chief art procurers, who had taken refuge in a nearby village. They drove him to Paris, where he was detained by the French authorities.
Individuals were detained for varying periods. Karl Haberstock, for example, was detained for 36 days. Some of those interrogated were more cooperative than others. Karl Haberstock, the most active and successful German art dealer during the war, was relatively cooperative. Walter Andreas Hofer, director of the Goering Collection and his chief purchasing agent, seemed to remember every transaction, and provided details of certain of them with ease while avoiding those that revealed his own venality. Kajetan Muehlmann, the chief figure in the organized German looting of art of Poland and the Netherlands, twice attempted to escape and initially responded with contempt. However, he eventually talked a great deal. Bruno Lohse, a Munich art dealer, had served as executive officer of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) in Paris. His knowledge was encyclopedic, and, hoping to please his captors, he held back nothing. Equally responsive was Gisela Limberger, Goering’s secre-tary, who, while professing her own innocence, became a fountainhead of incriminating information. As the Nuremberg trials drew near, Rousseau interrogated Goering in prison.
The ALIU work at Alt Aussee clarified the nature of the looting process and identified the whereabouts of countless masterpieces. Its work also contributed to the Nuremberg trials. The ALIU recommended that certain individuals be tried as war criminals. Haberstock’s information was so damaging to the Nazi leaders that the Americans decided to send him to Nuremberg to testify at the war crimes trials. There he became a key witness with respect to art plundering.
The primary work product of the ALIU was its Final Report, 3 Consolidated Interrogation Reports, and 12 Detailed Interrogation Reports--reproduced here. Certain other reports were contemplated but not produced. One was to be Consolidated Report No. 3 on German methods of acquisition. However, the ALIU did not compile this report, as stated in the Final Report, due to serious limitations in time and personnel. A Detailed Interrogation Report No. 8 on Kajetan Muehlmann, the chief figure in the organized German looting of art of Poland and the Netherlands, was also contemplated. He was interrogated by the ALIU in Austria during August 1945. Subsequent participation in the interrogations by Capt. Jan Vlug, Royal Netherlands Army, made advisable a collaborative U.S.–Dutch report. Dutch publication of this report, incorporating documentation and information from the ALIU, was still pending when the ALIU issued its Final Report. A Detailed Interrogation Report No. 14 on the topic of Maria Dietrich was planned. It was not issued, but a full accounting of her activities was incorporated into Consolidated Report No. 4. Also envisioned was a Detailed Interrogation Report No. 15 on Rose Bauer, Muehlmann’s secretary. This report, likewise, was not issued.