A US soldier stands amid crates and stacks of loot stored by Nazi Germany in Schlosskirche (Castle church), Ellingen, Bavaria.
24 April 1945.
In addition to stealing priceless art, basic items such as clothing, fabric, furniture, dishes, and other household items were plundered for use by the Reich.
Known as Möbel Aktion, at least 70,000 dwellings in France, Belgium and the Netherlands were emptied between 1942 and 1944; in Paris 38,000 apartments were stripped bare by French moving companies at the request of the German authorities. It took 674 trains to transport the loot to Germany. Some 2,700 train cars supplied Hamburg alone.
Any personal items like photos or damaged items were burned. What remained was put in crates and taken to warehouses and sorting centers specifically established for this purpose. This church in Ellingen was one of those warehouses.
The property stolen was redistributed to supervisors of the Möbel Aktion and German soldiers, or offered as compensation to Germans who suffered losses caused by Allied bombings.
While some of the items in the crates and in the piles of items in the church are hard to identify, the bolts of fabric and items of clothing are able to be identified. Also, the Dutch surname Oevli, is seen on three of the crates with numbers. Almost all of the packages and rolls of fabric have tags and were most likely sent on to workhouses to make clothing.
(Source - US National Archives - 5757187)
(Colorized by Lori Lang from the USA)