The conference series “Bonn Talks on Art and Cultural Property Law” was set up by the Chair for Art and Cultural Property Law, established at the University of Bonn in 2018. Its first event was a presentation by the Chair of the German Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution („Beratende Kommission“), former President of the German Federal Constitutional Court Prof Dr Hans-Jürgen Papier. The series has since addressed a number of issues related to the restitution of Nazi-looted art. In the forthcoming event, recent developments in the Netherlands will be the topic, and the Chair is cooperating with the Center for Research on Dutch Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The Dutch Restitution Commission’s policy on restitution of cultural objects lost during the Second World War was evaluated in December 2020 by the “Kohnstamm Committee”. This body was established by the Council for Culture (“Raad voor Cultuur”) in the Netherlands and is named after its chairman Jacob Kohnstamm who is giving us the honour of the keynote address for our event.
In order to evaluate the practice of the Dutch Restitution Commission and to issue recommendations for the improvement of its work, the Kohnstamm Committee studied policy documents and examined publications, and also asked stakeholders and academics for their opinions and suggestions. The Report of the Committee addresses issues such as provenance research, the procedural rules and the substantive criteria for evaluating the moral strength of a claim for restitution.
As an introduction, Matthias Weller and Tessa Scheller will briefly summarize the main conclusions of the Report. In his keynote address, Jacob Kohnstamm will address central issues. Gert-Jan van den Bergh and André Boers will respond and provide comments on selected aspects. Speakers and interventions in the following discussion with the audience via the chat function are encouraged to put the findings of the Dutch efforts for reform into an international context, in particular with regard to four other Restitution Commissions in Germany, Austria, France and the United Kingdom, but also beyond these countries in Europe and elsewhere.
Introduction: Matthias Weller / Tessa Scheller, University of Bonn
Keynote address: Striving for justice
Jacob Kohnstamm, Chairman of the Committee for the Evaluation of the Restitution Policy for Cultural Heritage Objects from the Second World War
Respondent: Gert-Jan van den Bergh, Attorney, Partner at Bergh Stoop & Sanders, Amsterdam
Respondent: André Boers, Chairman-elect, Center for Research on Dutch Jewry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Alfred Fass, Representative, Center for Research on Dutch Jewry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Prof Dr Matthias Weller, Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Professor for Civil Law, Art and Cultural Property Law, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
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