Lt Daniel J Kern and Karl Sieber examine the Ghent Altarpiece in the Altaussee mine, 1945
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How the real 'Monuments Men' rescued artwork from the Nazis

4 February 2014 Last updated at 02:22 GMT

In 1943, as war raged across Europe, a special unit of art experts was formed to save cultural sites and buildings at risk from Allied bombing and recover masterpieces stolen by the Nazis.

They became known as the Monuments Men and are the subject of a movie of the same name.

George Clooney leads an all-star cast in a film that has every ingredient of a Hollywood blockbuster. But who were the real Monuments Men?

An exhibition of their personal papers, photographs, maps and memoirs is on display at the Archives of American Art in Washington.

And as Jane O'Brien has been finding out, the truth can be just as exciting as fiction.