University of Regina highlights collection linked to 'Monuments Men'

February 3, 2014 - 9:56am Updated: February 3, 2014 - 1:42pm
Monuments Men U.S. soldiers recovering looted paintings. Wikipedia photo
Monuments Men U.S. soldiers recovering looted paintings. Wikipedia photo

It's not every day a George Clooney movie has a Regina connection but one of the real life ‘Monuments Men’ lived in the Queen City for a while.

The World War 2 action drama will be out in theatres on Feb. 7. It is based on the true story of an army platoon that was tasked with rescuing historic artwork stolen by the Nazis before it was destroyed. As it turns out, one of the Allied Army's 400 Monuments Men was once a professor here at the University of Regina.

Mark Vajcner is an archivist at the U of R and he has found several documents belonging to the former professor.

“Theodore Heinrich ended up in Regina in 1964 as a professor of art, he was here for one year but it was a fairly important year,” Vajcner explained.

Although he left after just one year, the university has a collection of very intriguing documents from the time Heinrich spent with the platoon.

“He liked to document everything so we have over 200 boxes of letters home, a lot of photographs – he took photographs of everything and other sort of official documents,” Vajcner said.

Vajcner says they even have full catalogues of art that the Nazi's stole, which Heinrich helped return.

Heinrich also left a significant mark on the Regina arts scene. He was known to be a huge promoter of the Regina five, a group of painters in the city who had huge national success and brought the Mackenzie Art Gallery a lot of recognition.

Vajcner has been trying to promote the Heinrich papers for a while, but is happy a George Clooney movie is finally giving them some attention.