Future :

Placing the Irreplaceable – Restitution of Jewish Cultural Property: Negotiations, Historical Dimensions, Documentation, Conference, Leipzig, 16-17 November 2017

The conference is organised by the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture, Leipzig, in Cooperation with the German Literature Archive, Marbach.

Monika Heimann
The systematic destruction of European Jewish culture during World War II attained unprecedented dimensions; its repercussions can be felt to this day. International events such as the 1998 Washington Conference on Nazi Confiscated Art, resulting in the declaration of the Washington Principles and encouraging initiatives of provenance research and restitution worldwide, are testament to an increasing public awareness of related topics. But the ideas driving these initiatives were by no means new: negotiations about placement and restitution of looted Jewish cultural property had already been conducted in the early postwar period.

The long history of activities and debates concerning the handling of displaced books, art works, and ritual objects — fragments of a disrupted past — reveals important layers of European political and cultural history after 1945. It brings to the surface dissonant perspectives on the future of Jewish life and culture after the war, exposes distinct forms of political and legal principles implemented during the Cold War in relation to property and ownership rights, and shows the different ways of Jewish memory creation in light of the Holocaust.

The aim of this conference is to associate two fields of research and activity which, all too often, take separate paths: the historical exploration of actors, institutions, and debates about the protection and restitution of looted Jewish cultural property after 1945 on the one hand, and the realm of provenance investigation, the reconstruction of collections, and the care for related material on the other. We hope to encourage a discussion that combines the actual concerns of finding and preserving relevant assets as well as their documentation, with a historical perspective on the significance of related questions for Jewish memory, recognition and belonging in the twentieth century.

Programm

Thursday, 16 November 2017

9:30 WELCOME ADDRESS
Yfaat Weiss (Leipzig/Jerusalem), Marcel Lepper (Marbach)

10:00 KEYNOTE LECTURE
Chair: Marcel Lepper (Marbach)

David E. Fishman (New York): Who Inherits the Relics of Jerusalem? On the Retrieval, Disposition, and Restitution of Jewish Cultural Property from Vilna (Vilnius) after World War II

11:15 Coffee Break

11:45 Panel 1: DISPERSED AND FRAGMENTED COLLECTIONS – LITHUANIA
Chair: David E. Fishman

Bilha Shilo (Jerusalem): When YIVO was defined by Territory: Two Perspectives on the Restitution of YIVO's Collections
Lara Lempertienė (Vilnius): A Shattered Mirror. The Efforts of Reconstructing the Pre-War Jewish Life in Lithuania through Rediscovered Documents

13:00 Lunch Break

14:30 Panel 2: CONTESTED OWNERSHIP AND MEMORY – POLAND
Chair: Dietmar Müller (Leipzig)

Łukasz Krzyżanowski (Berlin): Holocaust Survivors in Court: The Appropriation and Restitution of Jewish Property in the Early Post-War Years in Poland
Nawojka Cieślińska-Lobkowicz (Warsaw/Munich): Polish Comfortable Desinteressement

16:00 Coffee Break

17:00 EVENING LECTURE
Chair: Tanja Zimmermann (Leipzig)

Andrea Rehling (Mainz): Whose Heritage? UNESCO Balancing Between Restitution of Cultural Property and Common Heritage of Mankind

Friday, 17 November 2017

9:00 Panel 3: LOCATING THE TREASURES ‒ POSTWAR JEWISH RESTITUTION INITIATIVES
Chair: Elisabeth Gallas (Leipzig)

Yehuda Dvorkin (Jerusalem): Restitution of Cultural Property from Europe to Israel: The British Case
Zachary M. Baker (Stanford, CA): Setting the Stage: Preliminary Efforts by the Commission on European Jewish Cultural Reconstruction to Document Endangered Jewish Cultural Properties

10:15 Coffee Break

10:45 LUNCH LECTURE
Chair: Frieder von Ammon (Leipzig)

Caroline Jessen (Marbach): Asserting Ownership, Obscuring Provenance. Jewish Émigré Collections in Germany after 1945

11:45 Lunch Break

12:30 Panel 4: NATIONALIZATION AND RECONSTRUCTION – CZECHOSLOVAKIA
Chair: Jan Gerber (Leipzig)

Opening Statement: Matĕj Spurný (Jena/ Prague)
Anna Kawałko (Jerusalem): Objects of Desire, Objects of Denial. On the Status of German-Jewish Cultural Property in Czechoslovakia after 1945
Michal Bušek (Prague): Restitution of Jewish Property in Post-War Czechoslovakia: Developments after 1948, Changes since 1989

14:00 CONCLUDING DISCUSSION
Chairs: Yfaat Weiss (Leipzig/Jerusalem), Elisabeth Gallas (Leipzig), Marcel Lepper (Marbach)

Venue
Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture,
Goldschmidtstraße 28,
04103 Leipzig

Kontakt
Oliver-Pierre Rudolph
Simon-Dubnow-Institut für jüdische Geschichte und Kultur
Goldschmidtstraße 28, 04103 Leipzig
+49 341 21735-57
+49 341 21735-55
rudolph@dubnow.de
www.dubnow.de