Members of the International Research Portal for Records Related to Nazi-Era Cultural Property met yesterday at The National Archives, Kew, to report on progress of the online Portal created for families, historians and researchers to access records on looted art from the Nazi era.
Two years after the signing of a global agreement in Washington D.C. to widen public access to all records related to looted cultural artefacts from the Nazi era, the project has gained momentum with an additional nine international cultural organisations joining and access provided to a larger number and range of newly digitised documents.
Anne Webber, Portal Executive Board member and Co-Chair of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, said: 'This new collaboration of 22 institutions across Europe, Israel and the USA in this global international project demonstrates an appreciation of the huge role of the Portal can play for claimants and researchers all over the world. The extended range of participants means that the scope of materials has expanded exponentially, now including government records, auction and dealer records, and post-war claims. These new developments will be of immense help for claimants in identifying and recovering their missing property.'
New members are the the General Settlement Fund and National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism - Findbuch for Victims of National Socialism; Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nuremberg - Galerie Heinemann online; The Getty Research Institute - German Sales Catalogs, 1930-1945; Heidelberg University Library - German Sales 1930-1945. Art Works, Art Markets, and Cultural Policy, and Art – Auctions – Provenances. The German Art Trade as Reflected in Auction Catalogues from 1901 to 1929; Italian Directorate General of Archives - Italian Government Records on the Expropriation and Restitution of Jewish Property; Landesarchiv Berlin - WGA Database of the Berlin Restitution Office Case Files; National Archives of Luxembourg - Luxembourg Government Records on Looted Jewish Assets; NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, The Netherlands – ERR records; and Yad Vashem - Records Related to Looted Jewish Assets
The National Archives has completed its own description and digitisation project which provides access to over 4,350 searchable items on Nazi-era cultural property, in partnership with the Commission for Looted Art in Europe.
Oliver Morley, Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives, said: 'We are delighted to have completed the digitisation and linking of all archival looted art records held by The National Archives. These records complement the extensive range of material made accessible through the portal, helping people to uncover the rightful origins of many more looted artefacts.'
The records, from a number of government departments including the Foreign Office and the Treasury, date from 1939 to 1961 and include seizure orders, inventories and images of looted works of art, as well as field reports and claim forms for seized property. They also include interrogation reports of art dealers and reports of the transfer of looted artworks to neutral countries. All the original UK government files have been newly scanned in colour and are searchable by name, place, subject and date.