Researchers believe Nazi-looted art could be found in Finland

Helsingin Sanomat 13 March 2007
Works of art which were confiscated by the Nazis during the Second World War are being searched for in Finnish art museums. Around 400 foreign pieces of art have been found in the Finnish museums, with no knowledge of their owners over the period 1933 to 1945. The researchers believe that some of them could have been looted by the Nazis.

The estimated number of works of art which the Nazis are said to have confiscated before and during World War II, primarily from Jews, was around 600,000. About one-sixth of these works are still missing. Some of them could have ended up in Finnish museums through art dealers and donors.

The groundwork for the search was laid down as part of an art and culture project at the University of Jyväskylä. The project is now continuing in the form of a thesis involving personal research by Tiina Koivulahti and Maarit Hakkarainen.

According to Senior Assistant of Art History Hanna Pirinen, who was in charge of the research project in the University’s Department of Art and Culture Studies, it is at this point impossible to evaluate the total number of Nazi-looted works of art that might have been relocated in Finland.

Until now, the researchers have examined the collections of 27 Finnish art museums. However, it was not possible to inspect the holdings of the Finnish National Gallery nor the National Museum of Finland, as their service charges would have been too high.

According to Hanna Pirinen, it would nevertheless be well-founded to examine also these national collections.

"Many works of art in the national collections have a history involving dealers with Nazi connections", Pirinen notes.
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