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Orphaned Property in Europe, Workshop, Rose Valland Institute, Kassel, Germany, 11-12 September 2017

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3 October 2017: Report of the documenta 14 workshop Ophaned property held in Kassel on September 12th 2017 and hosted by the Kassel University.

The workshop focused on orphaned property in areas of Europe under dictatorial occupation during the period from 1933 to 1949 for which we had been identified three distinct phases, each characterized by different involved parties and patterns of behavior:

1933–1939 Systematic expropriation of Jewish property in Germany and Austria

1939–1945 Systematic expropriation, spontaneous looting, and random destruction in the occupied territories

1945–1949 Appropriation, seizure, looting, and destruction

Responses to the call of paper were international, manifold and diverse. Focusing on our topic, 8 finalists - were chosen to discuss the following questions:

Through which processes was the category of “private property” dissolved during the Nazi regime?

What forms of discourse accompanied the appropriation of orphaned property in the paradigm between need and greed?

How do the ties of the new property holders to the orphaned properties affect their social networks in time and space?

The workshop was opened by a fascinating talk of a French research team composed by Sarah Gensburger (CNRS), Isabelle Bakhouche (EHESS) and Eric le Bourhis (CNRS), on the looting of private apartments in Paris under German occupation, and the consequences, presenting interesting methods, facts and resources on a neglected topic.

It was the perfect introduction to the finally six presentations of the workshop opening with the group “case studies”: Nathalie Neumann, moderator and researcher of provenance from Berlin introduced to the topic by presenting private archive material of the home and library looted in Strasburg (France) of the Schmidt / Pariset family asking whether the known buyer families of looted furniture in Germany should be contacted.

Agnieszka Yass-Alston from NY, specialist on Jewish Polish art collections and currently working with the Database Project” Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg” presented the Fine Art Collection of Leon Holzer, Kraków, Poland and the facts about its spoliation.

The second and third group of talks moderated by Małgorzata A. Quinkenstein presented methods and material from institutions dealing with objects of daily use: Raffaella Frascarelli (Rome) presented the story and the search for the Jewish Library of Rome, whereas Carolin Lange talked of “Little Ghosts in Small Museums: Orphaned Objects in Local Museum Collections”

Dina Gold, a journalist from Washington shared her unorthodox tracing done family property in Berlin Krausenstr. 17/18 and her successful quest for justice against a public owner whereas the British lawyer Daniel McClean from L.A. (California) exposed proposals on how to deal with tainted artwork and its restitution.

Banu Karaca, researcher in Berlin shed a light on the Economies of Forgetting, and tracing the legacies of Nazi-looted Art in Berlin’s Museums.

The workshop concluded with an interesting debate interacting with the selected international public from museums, public and private institutions dealing with provenance research and the press.

N. Neumann, M. A. Quineknstein

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documenta 14

Rose Valland Institut

One of the programme sessions

The Apartments of Jewish Tenants as Witnesses of the Holocaust: The Paris Case 

Conference with Sarah Gensburger, Isabelle Backouche, and Eric Le Bourhis 

September 11, 2017 8–10 pm

Museum Fridericianum (Rotunde), Kassel
Friedrichsplatz 18
34117 Kassel

Introduction Adam Szymczyk, Artistic Director, documenta 14

Auschwitz, Drancy camp near Paris, the Warsaw Ghetto: the history of Jewish persecution during the Second World War is inscribed in acknowledged locations including ghettos and extermination or transit camps. Highly symbolic, these sites only convey partial testimonies as to how such atrocities were possible. As with most genocides, the Holocaust is rooted in ordinary spaces—in cities and their streets.

In Paris, the apartments of Jewish tenants are, even today, the primary witnesses of the Holocaust. Most Parisian Jews were arrested in their homes. The common knowledge of their departure for extermination led to the looting of their personal belongings in these very same apartments. And their permanent disappearance enabled the occupation of their home by new, non-Jewish, tenants. The conference will highlight in what way Parisian apartments bear the testimonies of the broken lives of their former Jewish inhabitants, their daily lives, and their relationship with non-Jewish neighbors.

Isabelle Backouche (b. 1959) is a director of studies at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences at the Center for Historical Studies (EHESS–CRH) in Paris. Since 2014, she has engaged a broad empirical investigation on this subject with sociologist Sarah Gensburger and historian Eric Le Bourhis.

Sarah Gensburger (b. 1976) is a senior researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and a member of the Institute for Social Sciences of Politics (Paris Nanterre University). She is a sociologist of memory and a social historian of the Holocaust at the intersection of history, sociology, and political science.

Eric Le Bourhis (b. 1981) is an historian and author of a dissertation on the reconstruction of the city of Riga in the Soviet Union after 1945, which won a special prize for best dissertation from the French Society for Urban History in 2016. He is currently posted to the Institute for Social Sciences of Politics at the University of Paris-Saclay.

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Original Listing: Rose Valland Institute
 Call for Papers
Orphaned Property in Europe


Library of books looted by Nazis and purchased in 1943 by the Berliner Stadtbibliothek (Municipal Library of Berlin), from a case study for Maria Eichhorn’s Rose Valland Institute, 2017, photo: Jens Ziehe. Courtesy Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin.


The Rose Valland Institute is an art project initiated by Maria Eichhorn within the context of Documenta 14. Following the Gurlitt exposure, Eichhorn has written, 'It also has to be assumed that further undiscovered works from the Gurlitt estate exist outside Germany, and that there must be still more such plundered goods hidden within Germany. It seems obvious that there are stolen items in the possession of German families, as well as land and property obtained under duress or illegally.'

At Documenta 14, her Rose Valland Institute is going public for the first time with a call for papers focusing on the topic of Orphaned Property in Europe.

The Rose Valland Institute is an independent interdisciplinary project. It researches and documents the expropriation of Europe’s Jewish population as well as its past and continuing impact. The Institute was named after the art historian Rose Valland, who secretly recorded details of the Nazi plundering of state-owned French and private Jewish-owned art from France during the German occupation of Paris. After the war, she worked for the Commission de Récupération Artistique (Commission for the Recovery of Works of Art) and made major contributions to the restitution of art stolen by the Nazis.

Building on the basis of insights gained from Maria Eichhorn’s previous exhibition projects Restitutionspolitik / Politics of Restitution, 2003, and In den Zelten …, in 2015, the Rose Valland Institute devotes itself to the issue of unresolved property and ownership relationships from 1933 to the present day. The Institute investigates fundamental issues connected with ownership of artworks, property, real estate, assets, companies, moveable objects and artefacts, and libraries, as well as scientific works and patents that were acquired by illegal means from Jewish citizens in Germany and in the occupied countries during the Nazi era and still have not been returned.

The Rose Valland Institute was founded within the context of documenta 14 and will be based in the Neue Galerie in Kassel from June 10 to September 17, 2017.


Orphaned Property in Europe Workshop

Date: September 11–12, 2017
Location: Rose Valland Institute, Schöne Aussicht 1, 34117 Kassel, Germany

The workshop will be conducted by the provenance researchers Małgorzata A. Quinkenstein and Nathalie Neumann.
The workshop focuses on orphaned property in areas of Europe under dictatorial occupation during the period from 1933 to 1949. Three distinct phases have been identified, each characterized by different involved parties and patterns of behavior:

1933–1939 Systematic expropriation of Jewish property in Germany and Austria
1939–1945 Systematic expropriation, spontaneous looting, and random destruction in the occupied territories
1945–1949 Appropriation, seizure, looting, and destruction

The workshop will discuss the following questions:

  • Through which processes was the category of “private property” dissolved during the Nazi regime?
  • What forms of discourse accompanied the appropriation of orphaned property in the paradigm between need and greed?
  • How do the ties of the new property holders to the orphaned properties affect their social networks in time and space?

Individual presentations should consider the following aspects:

  • What initial historical situations led to the change in possession?
  • How do subsequent generations reflect upon their inheritance of orphaned property?
  • How can this reflection be made public?
  • What forms of cooperation exist between the current owners of orphaned property and involved parties from science and institutions?
  • What political opportunities could help clarify the process of appropriation of orphaned property by private persons?
  • Practice-oriented results that helped resolve the status of orphaned property

The workshop is an event organized by the Rose Valland Institute in the context of documenta 14 in Kassel.

If you are interested in taking part in the workshop, please email an abstract (max. length: 1,800 characters) in English as well as a short CV to Valentina Ehnimb no later than May 5, 2017: valentina.ehnimb [​at​] rosevallandinstitut.org. Based on the submitted abstracts, selected participants will be invited to present lectures. The lectures will be discussed at the workshop together with Małgorzata A. Quinkenstein, Nathalie Neumann, and invited experts.

Source:
http://www.documenta14.de/en/news/16099/rose-valland-institut, accessed 31 March 2017

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