Russian parliament approves return of medieval stained glass windows to Germany

AP 19 March 2008

Moscow (AP): Russia's Lower House voted on Wednesday to return six 14th century stained glass panels from a church in Germany that were seized after World War II.

Lawmakers in the State Duma voted 345-57 in favor of a bill that would see the return of the panels to the Marienkirche in the city of Frankfurt an der Oder in northern Germany at the Polish border.

In 2002, Russia returned 111 stained-glass panels from the same church. They had been held in the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg.

Authorities later discovered that Moscow's Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts held six more panels from the 20-meter-high (65-foot-high) altar, which were among the items Germany most wanted returned as the church marked its 750th anniversary in 2003.

The bill must be approved by the upper house before it goes to the president for his signature. The Duma is dominated by President Vladimir Putin's party and would not approve a measure opposed by the Kremlin.

Russia and Germany have long sparred over thousands of valuable objects taken from Germany in the waning days of World War II.

Germany and other countries have pressed for the return of the collections, which they argue were taken illegally. But Russia has proclaimed the art seized as rightful retribution for the 27 million Soviet lives lost, 100 museums destroyed and ruin of entire cities during the conflict it calls the Great Patriotic War.

Russia has urged Germany to search for and return Russian art seized by the Nazis, and the two nations have accelerated exchanges of looted art in recent years.

The Communist Party, which holds 57 Duma seats and has long objected the return of German art, voted against the bill.
© website copyright Central Registry 2023