On Sunday, November 23 at 11:30 a.m., Congregation B’nai Israel in Rumson (CBI) will host Harry Ettlinger, one of the last surviving members of the World War II unit that rescued cultural treasures and artwork from destruction by Hitler and the German military. Mr. Ettlinger will speak about his life and his role in this special unit, which was recently featured in the 2014 film “The Monuments Men,” directed by and starring George Clooney.
Now age 89, Mr. Ettlinger was born to a German Jewish family that traced its roots in Germany to the 15th century. On September 25, 1938, the day following his Bar Mitzvah, he and his family fled Germany for a new start in the United States. Six years later, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Fluent in German, he was recruited to translate German documents for the Allied Forces Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Program, whose 345 members from thirteen nations were called, for short, “Monuments Men.”
The sole remaining “Monument Man” who is still well enough to appear in public, Mr. Ettlinger, a Morris County, NJ resident, describes the work of this group as “something every American should be proud of – instead of taking things, we gave them back.” His unit returned to its original owners and institutions 900 stolen works of art, including works by Rembrandt, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Vermeer, and Monet. For his bravery, Mr. Ettlinger was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
All are welcome to attend the lecture and meet Harry Ettlinger. Bagels and coffee will be served. For members of CBI and the Red Bank Chapter of Hadassah, there is a charge of $5. For all others, the cost is $10. To attend this special event, please register by November 19 at www.cbirumson.org.
Founded in 1922 and celebrating its 92nd anniversary this year, CBI is an egalitarian, conservative synagogue located at 171 Ridge Road in Rumson. The synagogue, which hosts religious services, cultural events, as well as adult and youth education, currently serves approximately 300 families from Monmouth and Ocean Counties. More information about CBI can be found at www.cbirumson.org or www.facebook.com/CBIRumson. For further information about the lecture by Mr. Ettlinger, please contact CBI director Emilie Kovit-Meyer at 732-842-1800, ext. 203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO CAPTION: “Monuments Man” Harry Ettlinger appears on the right side of a Rembrandt self-portrait that he helped rescue.