Archival Records :

Rose Valland Archives

Rose Valland Archives

Some of the files of the Commission de Récupération artistique (Commission for the Return of Art) and of the Baden-Baden Restitution Office, known as the Rose Valland Archives, were passed on to Rose Valland in 1954 to assist her investigations on cultural property looted from France during World War II. They were returned to the French Foreign Ministry in 1991 and 1992. These files form part of the archives relating to French looted cultural property administered by the Direction des Archives et de la Documentation, and are duplicates of the documents stored by the Office des Bien et Intérêts privés.

In 1940 Jacques Jaujard, Director of the French Musées Nationaux, assigned Rose Valland the dangerous task in the Jeu de Paume in Paris where works of art looted by the Germans were placed in storage, of surveillance of the activities of the ERR, the German looting agency. Throughout the Occupation at the risk of her life Valland kept a record of the destination of each shipment of looted art objects from the Jeu de Paume which greatly facilitated postwar investigations for recovery. After the Lliberation of Paris she worked as a member of the Commission for the Recovery of Works of Art (Commission de Récupération Artistique). At the end of World War II she was appointed curator of the French Musées Nationaux and in 1954 Head of the Commission for the Protection of Works of art (Chef du Service de protection des oeuvres d'art). She retired in 1968, but continued to work on the French archives dealing with restitution until her death in 1980.

The files include Rose Valland's notes written in the Jeu de Paume during the German Occupation and duplicates of documents of the Office des Bien et Intérêts privés which were used by the Bureau Central des Restitutions (part of the Direction Économique, Section Réparations et Restitutions du Commandement en Chef Français en Allemagne, based in Baden-Baden). Some of these papers relate to individual claims, others to correspondence between authorities dealing with the claims, and others still are copies of captured German documents.

Documents mentioning individual by name are, in compliance with the French law on archives (no. 79-18 of 3 January 1979), barred from public access for 60 years from the date of the file's creation. In addition, Ordinance no. 79-1038 of 3 September 1979 bars from access for sixty years, files concerning damages caused by war; or to do with matters at issue between France and other countries of interest to state, legal entities, or persons, and files to do with private property or other information concerning the private affairs of individuals.

Only claimants who provide proof of identity and right of succession are allowed access to the files (in accordance with Article 6b of Law 78-753 of 17 July 1978).

Marie Hamon, The Working Group on Cultural Property in Jost Hansen and Doris Lemmermeier, (eds.) Country Report for the Bremen Conference: Cultural Treasures Moved Because of the War: A Cultural Legacy of the Second World War Documentation and Research on Losses. Documentation of the International Meeting in Bremen 30 November-2 December 1994 <>, accessed 31 December 2002.

An indispensable source for the wartime activities of Rose Valland is her book, first published in 1960 and recently reprinted: Le front de l'Art. Défense des collections françaises 1939-1945, Édition de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris 1997.