Russian, German Museums Seek Government Help to Track War Loot

Bloomberg 3 March 2009
By Catherine Hickley

Art historians from Russia and Germany urged their governments to help track down treasures looted by Soviet and Nazi troops during World War II.

About 120 museum representatives and art historians from both countries met in Moscow to agree on steps to improve access to archives so that they can better document what was lost in the war-time trophy-hunting spree. In an e-mailed statement today, they called for government funding to set up a joint commission to coordinate research and databases.

Josef Stalin’s Soviet Trophy Commission looted about 2.5 million German art treasures at the end of World War II, about 1 million of which have never returned to Germany, according to the Prussian Culture Foundation. Under Russian law, the booty is Russian state property.

Russian treasures lost in Germany include the Amber Room, an 18th-century chamber dismantled by the Nazis from the Catherine Palace near Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, and shipped to Konigsberg, now Kaliningrad. It hasn’t been seen since 1945.

Institutions represented at the Moscow meeting on Feb. 27 and 28 included the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Dresden Public Art Collections and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

To contact the writer on this story: Catherine Hickley in Berlin at
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