German Federal Government 14 November 2007
The text of a Press Release from the German Ministry for Cultural and Media Affairs:
The Working Group on Restitution Issues set up by State Minister for Culture Neumann convened at the Federal Chancellery on 13 November 2007 for its concluding meeting.
State Minister for Culture Neumann declared: “The most important result is: Provenance research in Germany will be considerably increased. In January of the coming year the Office for Provenance Investigation and Research [Arbeitsstelle für Provenienzrecherche- und forschung] at the Institute for Museum Research of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation [Institut für Museumsforschung der Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz] will take up its work. It is to support museums, libraries and archives in the identification of cultural property looted from its rightful owners during the Nazi period. Moreover, it will contribute to the realisation of basic research. From 2008, half a million Euros annually will be set aside for this. I am expecting important progress in Germany in the clarification of restitution issues and, at the same time, in the confrontation [Aufarbeitung] of Nazi injustices.”
The Working Group on Restitution Issues was set up in January 2007 in the aftermath of discussions about the restitution of the Kirchner painting “Berlin Street Scene”. The aim of State Minister Bend Neumann was to make restitution practice in Germany more transparent, more coordinated and more comprehensible and show processes of resolution which promote agreement between all parties concerned. From the start, State Minister Bernd Neumann made clear the Federal Government’s continued unconditional support of the 1998 Washington Declaration. The “Joint Declaration” of the Federal Government, the Federal States and the National Associations of Local Authorities of 1999, based on the Washington Declaration, was also to remain unchanged.
Yesterday’s meeting of the Working Group, to which contributed representatives of the Federal Government, the Federal States and local authorities as well as museums and cultural foundations, achieved three concrete results:
- The establishment of the above-mentioned Office for Provenance Investigation/ Research
- The establishment of an expert advisory committee [Fachbeirat] at the Coordination Office for Cultural Property Losses in Madgeburg (KK), which is to improve cooperation and trust between the Coordination Office and the museums
- The adoption of the revised Guidelines [Handreichung] for the Implementation of the Washington Declaration and the “Joint Declaration”.
The revised Guidelines [Handreichung] will now be submitted to the signatories of the “Joint Declaration” (Culture Ministerial Conference [Kultusministerkonferenz], the German Associations of Towns and Cities [Deutscher Städtetag] and the German Federation of Cities and Local Authorities [Deutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund]) for approval and will then be published. This documents that the Federal Government, the Federal States and the local authorities are tackling this task jointly.
State Minister Bernd Neumann thanked all participants for the dedicated and successful cooperation. He emphasised: “With the results of the working group, the Federal Government, the Federal States and the Local Authorities confirm, based on almost 10 years of experience since the Washington Conference, that Germany stands by its moral responsibility for the restitution of Nazi-looted art. I expect that the funding bodies of institutions in the Federal States and local authorities will use the revised Guidelines [Handreichung] to improve and simplify the process for restitution.”
Members of the Working Group on Restitution Issues
Prof. Dr. Christoph Brockhaus, Director of the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum Duisburg [Direktor des Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museums Duisburg]
Dr Michael Eissenhauer, President of the German Museums' Association [Präsident des Deutschen Museumsbundes]
Dr Michael Franz, Coordination Office for Cultural Property Losses [Koordinierungsstelle für Kulturgutverluste], Magdeburg
Hans-Heinrich Grosse-Brockhoff, State Secretary, State Chancellery, North Rhine-Westfalia [Staatssekretär, Staatskanzlei NRW]
Mechtild Kronenberg, German Museums' Association [Deutscher Museumsbund]
Professor Dr Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation [Präsident der SPK]
Dr Gerold Letko, Chairman of the Board of the Coordination Office for Cultural Property Losses [Vorstandsvorsitzender der Koordinierungsstelle für Kulturgutverluste], Magdeburg
Uwe Lübking, German Federation of Cities and Local Authorities [Deutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund]
Cord-Hinrich Meier-Klodt, German Foreign Office [Auswärtiges Amt]
Bernd Neumann, State Minister for Cultural and Media Affairs [Staatsminister für Kultur und Medien]
Isabel Pfeiffer-Pönsgen, Cultural Foundation of the German Federal States [Kulturstiftung der Länder]
Liane Rybczyk, Berlin Senate Chancellery [Senatskanzlei Berlin]
André Schmitz, State Secretary, Berlin Senate Chancellery [Staatssekretär, Senatskanzlei Berlin]
Charlotte Schwarzer, German Foreign Office [Auswärtiges Amt]
Dr Werner von Trützschler, Representative of the German Culture Ministerial Conference [Vertreter der Kultusministerkonferenz]
Rainer M. Türmer, Federal Ministry of Finance [Bundesministerium der Finanzen]
Hortensia Völckers, Federal Cultural Foundation [Kulturstiftung des Bundes
Irene Vorholz, German District Authority Association [Deutscher Landkreistag]
Guest on 13.11.2007:
Professor Dr Bernhard Graf, Institute for Museum Research of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation [Institut für Museumsforschung der SPK]