This is a collection of 8 pencil sketches and 2 ink maps that were done by Corporal A.F. Sunshine in 1945, after the discovery of a massive German treasure in the Salt Mines, at Merkers, Germany. Whether Corporal Sunshine was attached to the Monuments Men or some 3rd Army unit, I do not know. I do know some of his work is in the VII Corps Historical Association relating to this discovery, and information provided with these sketches state that Sunshine was present when the main vault was blasted open.
The sketches are done on a heavy grade artist paper, measuring 12 x 17. These sketches were researched some time ago, and notes on a typed page about the treasure, make note of what each sketch is about. Some are Holocaust related, while others are simply scened in the mine where the treasure was secured, and of various items found within. The following is a list of either maps or sketches:
1. Location of German Treasury in Thuringian Salt Mine. An arrow denotes the location of the mine just north east of Frankfort, Germany.
2. Plan of Salt Mine Kaiseroda – Merkers. An arrow marks the location of Shaft No. 2 entrance to mine. No scale is given to understand the size of the mine, but clearly this map shows the mine extends under the towns of both Merkers and Kaiseroda.
3. Sketch of the Main Shaft Elevator. This is the mine shaft elevator that ran down to the vault level.
4. Sketch of the exterior of the vault door. It shows that the door was initially left alone, and the massive brick wall was blown through.
5. Sketch of the interior of the vault door. This sketch shows the entry hole that was blown beside the main door.
6. Sketch of the Rail Cart. This rail cart ran down the center of the vault, allowing easier access to the items stored in the treasure vault.
7. Sketch of Treasure Bags. The bags were piled up against the brick walls in the vault. The bags are marked, “Reichbank” and probably held cash, bonds, etc.
8. Sketch of Crates of Stolen Artwork. Crates of various sizes are piled high in this scene. An overhead light shines down, with a sign in the back that reads, “You are nothing; your people is everything.” Apparently this was a statement that Hitler had made in 1933.
9. Sketch of Civilian Suitcases. These suitcases were placed in the vault by SS which contained jewelry, gold, silver objects that had been seized from Jews, many whom were killed in concentration camps. There is a photo copy of General Eisenhower going through the contents of one of these very suitcases at Merkers.
10. Sketch of American Security. In this scene an American G.I. is standing behind a .30 Caliber machine gun, and using bags of money in place of sandbags. Some of the bags are marked “Deutsche Reiche.”
Nearly all are in excellent condition, with light tape stains at either the top or bottom of sketches, not affecting the artwork.
Further research will no doubt find Corporal Sunshine’s history. I know the Monuments Men from SHAEF had a good deal to do with locating this hoards of stolen treasures that the Nazi’s took from all over Europe and beyond.
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