GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel is this week faced with the thorny question of what to do with her office rug after it was discovered to be part of a collection of treasures looted by wartime air force chief and deputy Fuehrer Hermann Goering.
• Rug was looted by wartime Luftwaffe chief and deputy Fuehrer Hermann Goering
• Journalists working for Der Spiegel discovered a number of Nazi items in various government offices, museums and guest houses in Germany
• Rug to be removed from view by end of this week
The rug was discovered by journalists working for the news magazine Der Spiegel about Nazi booty that is still scattered about government guest houses, offices and in museums in Germany long after it should have been reunited with the original owners.
Mrs. Merkel is said to be furious with her aides at the embarrassing revelation, coming as it does months before her third bid for power in the general election and with the opposition snapping at her heels.
According to Spiegel the rug is one of over 600 objects that the government still uses from the vast mountain of looted artworks that Goering and others amassed for themselves during WW2.
Task of reuniting owners with looted items not concluded
The West German government in 1966 declared the task of reuniting owners with their stolen property to be “concluded.” But this is clearly not the case; tapestry from the same collection as the rug inMrs. Merkel’s office adorn the walls of a government guest house on the outskirts of Bonn while a stolen walnut secretary - seized by Hans Posse who was the Nazi administrator for all stolen art during the Third Reich - sits in the German president’s office in Berlin.
‘Hitler’s Watch, Germany’s Secret’ is the cover story of Spiegel, which hit newstands on Monday, showing a photo of a platinum watch Hitler gave his mistress Eva Braun in 1939 on her 27th birthday and engraved on the back; ‘On the 6.2.1939. Sincerely, A. Hitler.’ It was found in a Munich museum by the magazine’s researchers.
Goering’s personal possessions uncovered in Munich museum
Also found in Munich’s Pinakothek der Moderne museum were many possessions of Goering, the man who invented the Gestapo secret police and who convened the meeting at Wannsee outside Berlin in January 1942 which cemented the plans for the Holocaust of Europe’s Jews. Platinum and gold cufflinks, a ring with diamonds as well as a golden cup for champagne. Spiegel also came across a golden decorated cigarette box
with dedication from 1940: “Full of happiness and pride, Emmy and Edda congratulate ‘Reich Marshal’ in intimate love” - this from Goering’s wife and his daughter.
A few short years later he would be condemned to death for war crimes at Nuremberg, cheating the hangman at the last minute by killing himself in his cell with a phial of hidden cyanide.
The feeling is that museums, over 6,000 of them in Germany, are still chock-full of Nazi treasures and looted objects but with few staff to check on the provenance of the collections. In Bavaria just one specialist is on the payroll of the local government to check the origin of 4400 paintings and 770 sculptures taken in 1933 after the Nazis came to power.
The former State Minister for culture, Michael Naumann now urges the government to force the return of the goods of art looted by the Nazis to their rightful owners or their heirs. “The legislature must concretize their return,” he said. “More money must also be used for research in German museums.”
As to the rug in Mrs. Merkel’s office - it is understood it will be removed from view by the end of the week.