This publication is Volume 4 in a series published by the Koordinierungsstelle Magdeburg on issues relating to cultural property looted or displaced from private and public collections in Europe during the Second World War.
The emphasis of the volume is on German cultural property taken to Russia in the aftermath of the Second World War and the examination and resolution of subsequent restitution claims.
The publication is divided into three sections. The first section is on the looting of cultural property by the state and military (both Nazi and Soviet) during the Second World War. Articles describe features of Nazi looting including its motives, differences in looting in western and eastern Europe, and the institutions involved. Other essays describe the activities of the Soviet Trophy Brigades, efforts to protect the collections of the Berlin State Museums, losses of the Dresden State and University Library, and the dispersal of archives and of the collection of the Gotha Research Library. Contributors to this section are: Frank Aurich, Nawojka Ciéslińska-Lobkowicz, Jörn Grabowski, Cornelia Hopf, Rita Klauschenz, Grigorij Kozlov, Elijahu Tarantul and Natalia Volkert.
The second section is on the restitution of displaced cultural property after the Second World War. Subjects covered include restitution efforts of the Polish government, the return of the Dresden paintings from Russia in 1955, the fate of the papers of Walter Benjamin, and the restitution of twelve boxes of zoological objects to the Dresden State Museum for Zoology and Ethnology from Russia in 1982. Contributors here are: Gisela Haase, Wojciech Kowalski, Gilbert Lupfer, Fritz Jürgen Obst and Erdmut Wizisla.
The third section is on efforts to achieve the restitution of cultural property since 1990. Virtually all articles focus on the restitution of Germany’s public losses. Subjects covered include Germany’s approach to achieving restitution of its public collections from Russia and issues of international relations, the restitution of library collections to Germany from Georgia, Armenia and the Ukraine, problems of knowing exactly what was lost from Germany public collections, the ways in which the Bremen Kunstverein has achieved the return of 270 of its missing works of art, and the return of 111 panes of stained glass to the Marienkirche Frankfurt from Russia in 2002. Only two essays deal with the restitution of displaced cultural property in Germany’s possession, in one case from the city of Lübeck, and in a second case the return of a painting belonging to Italy from Gifhorn in 1999. Contributors in this section are: Jürgen Conrad, Erhard Drachenberg, Tono Eitel, Burkhardt Göres, Wilfried Grolig, Olaf Hamann, Wolfgang Maurus, Anne Röver-Kann, Wolf von Trotha and Holger Walter.
The book includes a chronological index of restitutions to Germany over the years 1945-2006. The index provides details of where the objects were found, which range from private collections in Chile to government holdings in Kirgisztan.
The essays are in German with English and Russian summaries.