Julianna Bumbar: A Monuments Woman

Today’s post, written by  Dr. Sylvia Nayloris the next installment to an ongoing series of posts on real-life Monuments Men. See related posts on Sir Charles Leonard WoolleyWalter J. HuchthausenSeymour J. PomrenzeMason HammondEdith StandenKarol EstreicherS. Lane FaisonSir Hilary JenkinsonWalter HornDouglas CooperRonald Balfour and Walker Hancock.

The newly released movie, The Monuments Men, has focused great attention on the Monuments Men (and women) and their work during and after World War II.  Of course the movie cannot tell the story of the over 300 individuals involved in Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFA&A) work, so it focuses on three: George Stout, James Rorimer, and Rose Valland, played by George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Cate Blanchett respectively.  Beginning in December 2013, Dr. Greg Bradsher thought it would be illustrative to discuss some of the lesser known individuals, and thus started a series of blog posts. I wanted to bring attention to Julianna Bumbar, a Monuments Woman who was actively engaged in restitution work in post-war Germany.

Julianna Bumbar was born on July 24, 1920 in Buffalo, New York.  Her parents, Elko and Mary Bumbar, were both born in Galicia to Ukrainian-speaking families and immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s.  Julianna completed high school and worked as a grocery packer before she enlisted as an aviation cadet in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) on September 18, 1942, shortly after it was established.

In August 1945, 1st Lt. Bumbar reported for duty with the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFA&A) Section, Reparations, Deliveries and Restitutions (RD&R) Division in Höchst, Germany.  She worked as administrative officer under Lt. Col. Mason Hammond, with whom she developed a close working relationship.  On November 26, 1945, Lt. Col. Hammond wrote a letter to “Julie” during a trip to the United States that provided her with both a summary of his travels and suggestions regarding ongoing restitution work.  He closed the letter as follows: “All my best to the boys. Sent you all a couple of packages for Xmas which will probably be too late for your Xmas party but may do at some point.”

While working in the Restitution Branch, Economics Division, Office of Military Government for Germany, US (OMGUS), Lt. Bumbar participated in several restitution tasks.  She was one of the three MFA&A officers who accompanied Dr. Karol Estreicher on the train carrying Nazi looted treasures, including Cracow’s Veit Stoss altarpiece, back to Poland.  After this restitution trip was complete, Lt. Bumbar prepared a detailed report titled “Informal Report Covering Return of Veit Stoss Altar and Cultural Objects to Poland,” dated May 24, 1946.  Traveling as the group’s interpreter, she described both the positive and the negative aspects of this endeavor.  She noted that the Polish people and officials were very grateful and enthusiastic and that the American delegation was received very warmly with the utmost honors.  The American delegation attended several events, including a dinner and dance hosted by the Polish Army.  During this event, the train commander, MFA&A officer Lt. Frank P. Albright, presented a toast, thanking the people of the city of Cracow and its organizations for the many hospitalities they extended.  His toast, translated into Polish by Lt. Bumbar, “was well received.”  In May 1946, the Polish Government officially recognized several MFA&A officers involved in the returning of looted objects, in particular the Veit Stoss altar.  Lt. Bumbar received the Silver Cross of Merit (Srebrny Krzy? Zas?ugi), a Polish civil state award.

[Click any image below to enlarge.]

Lt. Bumbar was honorably discharged in 1946 and joined the Air Force Reserve.  Upon returning to the United States, she married Edmund W. Glinski, a fellow World War II veteran.  She subsequently served in the Korean War from 1950 to 1952 and retired from the Air Force Reserve in 1962 with the rank of major.  Throughout her military career, she received the American Campaign Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

Maj. Julianna B. Glinski died on May 11, 1995 after a brief illness.


Informal Report Covering Return of Veit Stoss Altar and Cultural Objects to Poland, May 24, 1946; Administrative Records, 1944-1951 (National Archives Identifier 2435799); Records Concerning the Central Collecting Points (“Ardelia Hall Collection”): Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, 1945-1952 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1947, roll 29); Records of the U.S. Occupation Headquarters, World War II, Record Group 260; National Archives at College Park, MD.