Monuments Men author Robert Edsel calls for drones to protect Syrian art
Edsel said cultural treasures in Syria 'belong to all of us'
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Tuesday 11 February 2014
The author of The Monuments Men, the true story of an Allied squad who tracked looted treasures in the Second World War, has called on governments to send in drones to help protect cultural treasures currently under threat in Syria.
Robert Edsel, who wrote The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History published in 2009, said world leaders had to act: “Syria presents the most immediate painful situation to watch.”
Speaking at a press conference for the film adaptation of his book starring George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bill Murray, which opens this week, he said: “These things in Syria belong to all of us. They may be in a particular place but they are part of our heritage and civilisation as people of the world.
“What can we do? We’re not using technology very well. We have drones that Amazon is trying to use to deliver packages,” he said. “ Maybe we could put cameras in those things and start taking photographs of all those bad guys... And hold people accountable and prosecute them.”
While he would not advocate sending in troops to the countries to protect the treasures, he called on world leaders, and especially President Obama to “stand up and restate what President Roosevelt and General Eisenhower said in World War II. That our countries will protect and respect cultural treasures.” Actor-director George Clooney in 'The Monuments Men'
Beyond Syria, the author also pointed to events in Cairo last month when the city’s Museum of Islamic Art was badly damaged after a bomb attack on a nearby police headquarters and the Taliban’s destruction of ancient manuscripts.
While Unesco and world heritage organisations are responsible for their protection, Mr Edsel said, “the fact of the matter is, despite enormously good intentions and a lot of hard work by those people, it’s not getting the job done”.
Regarding the cultural treasures, they “did not survive by accident. The people who came before us risked their lives to preserve them for future generations. That’s a responsibility we all have to somehow get engaged and do a better job.”
The news conference was attended by Harry Ettlinger, one of the surviving monuments men. He said: “Art needs to be around us to make life more meaningful, more enjoyable. We would not like life with white walls around it.”
Watch the trailer for The Monuments Men
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Doctors remove 80 teeth from boy's jaw
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
- 5 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
Downton Abbey series 5: George Clooney to try and kiss Dowager Countess in charity Christmas special
Game of Thrones is most-pirated TV show of 2014
Exodus: Gods and Kings banned in the UAE for 'religious mistakes'
Doctor Who and the BBC 'promoting a gay agenda', viewers complain
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk