The Otto Wittmann papers relating to the Art Looting Investigation
Unit (ALIU) of the United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS) consists of reports
prepared by the OSS and by other allied agencies, as well as the work that Wittmann
undertook during his employment with the OSS, and files that attest to his career-long
interest in the mission of the OSS.
Otto Wittmann was born on September 1, 1911, in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of a
successful businessman who had found a niche in the newly developing automobile industry.
While Wittmann grew up in Kansas City, attending public and then private schools, he had
little exposure to art. No art museum had been opened yet in Kansas City before Wittmann
joined Harvard University as a freshman in 1929. However, during his years at Harvard from
1929 to 1933, Wittmann attended courses at the Fogg Art Museum and chose to major in art
history. He became acquainted with numerous students of Paul Sachs who would become museum
and cultural leaders, such as Perry T. Rathbone (1911-2000), who became a close friend and
later became director of the St. Louis Art Museum and then of the Museum of Fine Arts,