“Monuments Men,” the film, was based on a true story. As it became clear the allies would win World War II , President Franklin D. Roosevelt commissioned a platoon to rescue stolen art and other personal and cultural treasures plundered by the Nazis. In that platoon seven men, “Monuments Men” as they were known, embarked on what’s been called “the greatest treasure hunt in history.”
Joel Fisher was apart of that mission. A U.S. Department of Treasury lawyer who enlisted in the Coast Guard, Fisher was assigned to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s ‘Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force’ in 1944. The young lieutenant commander with Treasury experience was made chief of the ‘Foreign Exchange and Property Control Section” in G-5, the headquarters’ Financial Division. When American forces got wind that the Nazis were hiding treasures, Lt. Cmdr. Fisher led part of the hunt.
Then after the war, he almost never spoke of it. He built a career as a lawyer. His daughter Susan Sullam, longtime press secretary for U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, now a Baltimore-based writer, didn’t know any of the story until nearly a decade after her father died.
Susan Sullam wrote about that discovery last month in The Washington Post Magazine and she joins Sheilah in the studio to share that story.
Susan Sullam will give a talk about her father in late September for Food for Thought, a lifetime living program at the Pikes Theatre. More information here.
On November 12, Sullam will give a talk at the Friends of the Pikesville Library. Check the Library's website closer to November for additional details.