Harry Ettlinger, a Holocaust survivor and World War II veteran, was honored Dec. 10 for his role in saving priceless artwork looted by the Nazis during the war.
Ettlinger, a Roxbury resident, was one of 350 American “Monuments Men” in the United States Army who helped rescue and preserve art that German troops had plundered across Europe.
Ettlinger received the 2012 Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Award from the American Jewish Historical Society in a ceremony at the society’s New York headquarters.
Presenting the honor were political consultant Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Robert Edsel, author of The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.
After accepting the award, Ettlinger told the audience the discovery of stolen art works and their return to their rightful owners was “a unique policy that we adopted once in the history of mankind.”
Noting that actor George Clooney is in the early stages of making a film called Monuments Men, Ettlinger said the movie will help emphasize “that we have to respect each other not only as human beings but also as cultures and preserve them for the future. If we don’t there will be nothing.
“Just think about it,” he urged. “How would we feel about white walls with nothing on them? I have been taught since childhood to respect other cultures. I will continue to do so and I am asking you to do so.”
Past winners of the award include Edward I. Koch, Elie Wiesel, Henry Kissinger, and Beverly Sills.