In the past five months, I learned a lot more about art and German history, both through university classes and reading on my own.
One book I read was called The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel (there is an upcoming movie that's based on this book). It was a fascinating history of a special unit in the Army composed of well-respected professionals from museums, archives, etc. who searched Europe for looted artwork during World War II.
I learned about how the Ghent altarpiece had gone missing. This is an extremely valuable, early Renaissance polytych and it is the jewel of Ghent, and even Belgium, for that matter. After hearing about it in Edsel's book and then learning about the altar piece's importance in my Art History class, I am kicking myself for not going out of my way to see it when I was in Ghent this summer (though it was mostly covered for restoration, I am told, and I was also really ill on that trip so I shouldn't feel too guilty).
I was reading the news on Monday and found new developments in the story about art that went missing before and during World War II. It's absolutely fascinating; a major treasure trove of art was found in a Munich apartment. Read about it here and here. I am very curious about the Carl Spitzweg painting mentioned in the article. He is my favorite Biedermeier painter and I even drew a study of one of his pieces in the local museum. I hope that more information (and pictures!) will come out about this major find, worth at least a billion dollars.