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Richard Barancik, Final of the World Struggle II Monuments Males, Dies at 98

Richard Barancik, the final surviving member of the Allied unit generally known as the Monuments Males and Ladies, which throughout and after World Struggle II preserved an unlimited quantity of European artworks and cultural treasures that had been looted and hidden by Nazi Germany, died on July 14 in Chicago. He was 98.

His dying, in a hospital, was confirmed by his daughter Jill Barancik.

Mr. Barancik (pronounced ba-RAN-sick) was one in every of 4 members of what was formally known as the Monuments, Effective Arts and Archives Part to obtain the Congressional Gold Medal in 2015 in Washington for his or her “heroic position within the preservation, safety, restitution of monuments, artistic endeavors and artifacts of cultural significance.”

On the day of the ceremony, Mr. Barancik instructed The Los Angeles Instances: “The People cared concerning the cultural traditions of Europe. We did every part we may to salvage what the Nazis had executed. It’s the very best we may do.”

An Military non-public first-class, Mr. Barancik served in England and France — the place he was not on the entrance traces, his daughter stated, and loved the marching, meals and construction of navy life — till Germany surrendered. After being deployed to Salzburg, Austria, he volunteered for the Monuments Males serving for 3 months as a driver and guard.

The Monuments Males and Ladies have been composed of about 350 folks — amongst them museum administrators, curators, students, historians and artists — whose missions included steering Allied bombers away from cultural targets in Europe; overseeing repairs when damages occurred; and monitoring down hundreds of thousands of objects plundered by the Nazis and returning them to the establishments, and the nations, they got here from.

Mr. Barancik, who later grew to become an architect, had an curiosity in artwork. He had drawn cartoons for his highschool newspaper and located it thrilling to see church buildings and different buildings in Europe. However as a Monuments Man, he in all probability didn’t see lots of the work, sculptures and different artifacts he was guarding and transporting to an Allied assortment level; they have been in crates.

“Somebody might need stated, ‘There’s a Vermeer in there,’ and he knew the artwork was necessary or useful,” stated Robert Edsel, the founder and chairman of the Monuments Males and Ladies Basis, who interviewed Mr. Barancik and 20 different survivors of the unit for his e-book “The Monuments Males: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Biggest Treasure Hunt in Historical past” (2009, with Bret Witter). The e-book was tailored into the 2014 movie “The Monuments Males,” which George Clooney directed and starred in.

Mr. Edsel stated that Mr. Barancik was cautious throughout their two interviews, stunned on the curiosity in a short-term Monuments Man who, not like his extra skilled colleagues, didn’t have a creative specialty.

“He appeared extra interested in me with the ability to put into perspective what he had executed, as if he didn’t understand the place he match into the general image,” Mr. Edsel stated by telephone.

Ms. Barancik stated that her father “was very embarrassed on the consideration” he acquired for being given the Congressional Gold Medal.

“He didn’t really feel like a hero,” she stated by telephone. “He stated, ‘I used to be a child, I used to be there for 3 months. It’s improper for me to take credit score.’ However I’d inform him, ‘You have been a witness, you are representing the individuals who aren’t with us anymore.’”

Mr. Edsel recalled that after the ceremony, Mr. Barancik instructed him, “I’m so deeply appreciative of what you and the inspiration have executed, and it’s an honor past my means to specific it.”

Richard Morton Barancik was born on Oct. 19, 1924, in Chicago. His father, Henry, was a household doctor and served because the chief of workers at South Shore Hospital; his mom, Carrie (Grawoig) Barancik, was a homemaker and performed piano for ballet courses.

After his time as a Monuments Man, Mr. Barancik remained in Europe to review structure on the College of Cambridge, in England and the École des Beaux-Arts, in Paris. On returning to the US, he entered the College of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and graduated with a bachelor’s diploma in structure within the late Nineteen Forties.

In 1950 he opened an architectural agency, Barancik, Conte & Associates, with one in every of his design instructors on the College of Illinois. The corporate designed non-public properties, workplace towers, suburban workplace complexes, bowling alleys, faculties and luxurious residence buildings.

“I actually apply structure seven days every week, all my waking hours,” he instructed The Chicago Tribune in 1986. “It’s an all-consuming career.” He retired in 1993.

Along with his daughter Jill, Mr. Barancik is survived by two different daughters, Cathy Graham and Ellie Barancik; two sons, Robert and Michael; 4 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His marriage to Rema Stone led to divorce, and his marriages to Claire Holland and Suzanne Hammerman ended of their deaths.

One of many advantages of the eye that got here to Mr. Barancik as a Monuments Man was the correspondence he acquired.

“He’d get fan mail and, as soon as every week, an autograph request,” Ms. Barancik stated. “He’d get delicate letters from folks, a lot of them from schoolchildren, which saved the dialog going.”



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