Harry L. Ettlinger

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Harry L. Ettinger (Photo by Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images) Harry L. Ettlinger in the Medal of Honor Memorials Photo Gallery Enlarged Photo
Harry L. Ettlinger and his family escaped Nazi Germany in 1938 on one of the last visas granted by the German government. After graduation from high school in Newark, New Jersey, Harry joined the Army. He was sent to his homeland to fight in the Battle of the Bulge but was pulled out at the last minute to work as a translator since he spoke German. That led to Ettlinger being assigned to the “Monuments Men”, an Allied team with a few hundred members made up mostly of art historians and architects that raced against the clock to recover and save valuable artwork stolen by the Nazis. He was the translator for James Rorimar, one of the leaders of the team.

Ettlinger found a print of Rembrandts famous self-portrait while he was below ground in salt mines in Germany going through crates of stolen artwork. It was the same painting the art aficionado wanted to see in his hometown in Germany but was not allowed into the museum since he was Jewish. The “Monuments Men” risked their lives recovering millions of pieces of art.

The story of the “Monuments Men” was told in a movie directed by George Clooney in 2014. Harry was portrayed in the film by British actor Dimitri Leonidas.

He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2015 for his bravery during World War II.

He became an aerospace engineer, got married and had a family. He was involved in many charitable endeavors and was active in teaching young people about the Holocaust.

He died at the age of 92 in Trenton, New Jersey. We invite you to share condolences for Harry L. Ettlinger in our Guest Book.

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