February 22, 2024

1 pm NYC / 7 pm Wiesbaden / 8 pm Jerusalem


Meeting-ID: 883 7420 4386
Password: rotary

Paul Harris (Wiesbaden/Auburn):
From the Ashes of War – Skilton, Boßlet and the Race to Protect the Wuerzburg Residence

The principal charge of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section (MFA&A) – established by the Civial Affairs Division within the US War Department in the fall of 1943 – was to protect monuments and other cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II. The officers and enlisted personnel were comprised of museum directors, curators, art historians, educators and architects. One of those individuals was John Davis Skilton, a staff member at the National Gallery of Art before being called to service. In June 1945, Lt. Skilton was the monuments officer assigned to the Military Government Detachment at Würzburg responsible for the overall protection and preservation of monuments, works of art and other cultural materials and records in the Mainfranken region of Germany.  Shortly after his arrival, Skilton met Professor Albert Bosslet a renowned church architect who assisted the MFA&A in this undertaking. Working hand in hand, Skilton and Bosslet rescued the frescoes Giambattista Tiepolo and his sons painted in the Prince-Bishop’s Residence in Würzburg – now a world heritage site, as well as other important buildings in and around Würzburg. 
The story of these men, former enemies and then friends, working among the destruction of this once princely city is a testament to the human condition and should give us optimism for a better future.
Paul Harris (yes, that’s his real name!) lives in Wiesbaden, the city of our partner club. He spends his time alternately in Auburn (Alabama) and in the state capital of Hesse. Harris works as a professor in the Faculty of Political Sciences at Auburn University.