In a pathbreaking book, Geert Sels shows how paintings by Memling, Van der Weyden, Brueghel, Jordaens and Cranach left Belgium during the war and how many remain unreturned after the Nazis emptied homes, looted art, forced owners to sell and spent millions of Reichsmarks on the art market. Published in Dutch, French edition to be published on 24 January 2023.
On the similarities and differences in the activities and acquisitions of German and French museums on the French art market during the Occupation and the location of those works today, through 14 essays from German and French authors each summarised on this site.
In September 2019, under the direction of Dr. Ljerka Dulibic of the Strossmayer Gallery, the digitization of the KOMZA (Commission for the gathering and protection of cultural monuments and antiquities) archives held by the Ministry of Culture on the postwar fate of cultural objects nationalized under communism was completed. The Claims Conference/WJRO, together with Dr. Naida-Michal Brandl of the University of Zagreb, compiled an historical analysis of what these archival records are, whether from KOMZA under the communists or otherwise, and compiled a list of names of the original Jewish and other individual and organizational owners of the objects that were distributed after the war.
Re-publication of Craig Hugh Smyth's 16 May 1995 English language lecture at the the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich, with an introduction by Iris Lauterbach.
Edited by Ulrike Saß, Matthias Weller and Christoph Zuschlag. Chapter subjects range from provenance research on cultural objects from colonial contexts, Nazi looted property, cultural property confiscation in the Soviet Zone and the GDR to methodological issues. The legal essays deal with the civil law implications of the new German Cultural Property Protection Act, normative implications of the Washington Principles demand for just and fair solutions, and legal reactions to developments in the image sciences.
How Bavaria’s capital city, aided by politicians, judges, police, and ordinary residents, terrorised the Jewish population, becoming the testing ground for Nazism and the Final Solution, and why the city’s transformation into 'Hitler's city' is crucial for understanding the Nazi era and the tragedy of the Holocaust.
Alice Urbach had a cookery school in Vienna and in 1935 published a bestselling cookbook. In September 1938, after the Anschluss, Alice’s name was removed from her book. She was summoned to her publisher, Ernst Reinhardt Verlag, and told by her editor, Hermann Jungck, to hand over all her copyright and publishing rights. Her book was “Aryanised”, given a new “author” by the name of Rudolf Rösch. Alice’s preface to her cookbook, in which she had celebrated “the colourful mix of peoples that made up the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy”, was deleted, as were her recipes for Rothschild sponge and Rothschild omelette, plus any clues that the book was written by a woman. In 1948 Alice wrote to the publisher from her apartment in Manhattan, asking to have her rights back and her name restored. The publisher never did and kept on publishing the book. Alice died in 1983, aged 97. After the German publication of this book by her granddaughter Karina in 2020, Ernst Reinhardt Verlag reprinted the original 1935 edition of Alice’s cookbook, with her name on the jacket. Every German and Austrian library has been sent a copy.
On the decades-long fight by African nations for the return of countless works of art stolen during the colonial era and placed in Western museums.
How the Nazis helped German tycoons make billions from the horrors of the Third Reich and World War II – and how the German movement toward facing the past somehow bypassed many of these revered tycoons and their dark histories.
This Guide documents the current locations of remaining ERR files and related sources, details their contents, and provides links to the many files now online. The Guide also describes considerable documentation including the subsequent fate, postwar retrieval, and restitution of ERR loot.
A cultural history of the Swiss art trade focusing on Jewish art dealers and gallery owners, with a comprehensive portrait of the Aktuaryus Gallery in Zurich (1924-46) and the work of the Jewish art dealer and gallerist Toni Aktuaryus (1893-1946)
An analysis of the Third Reich’s efforts to confiscate, loot, censor and influence art that begins with a brief history of the looting of artworks in Western history. The artistic backgrounds of Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering are examined, along with the Nazi art looting organisations, and Nazi endeavours to censor and manipulate the arts.
The Rothschilds in Austria played a significant role in the political and economic development of the country, founded important banking and industrial enterprises as well as charitable institutions. When the National Socialists came to power in 1938, the looting of the family's assets began, the restitution of which continues to this day. The book is the catalogue of the exhibition at the Jewish Museum Vienna which began on 12 December 2021 and runs until 5 June 2022.
New York attorney Raymond Dowd argues that the common law remedy of impressment of a constructive trust (trust ex malificio) is the proper approach in resolving Nazi looted art cases.
The autobiographies of 364 Jewish authors born between 1833 and 1963 who describe in the context of their lives the great Jewish hopes and disappointments in the age of emancipation and, in the 20th century, the signal events of the Shoah and the founding of the State of Israel.
An overview by the Assistant Director of the Institute of Art and Law of the complex issues surrounding the restitution of cultural property and the difficult application of our contemporary conceptions of justice to instances from the past. The book asks whether we are entering a new 'restitution paradigm', one that could have an indelible impact on the cultural sector - and the rest of the world - for many years to come.
Who owns cultural assets? Who has narrative control? What could fair and just approaches to dislocations of cultural assets look like, independently of restitution?
Can late returns make up for past injustices? What must, what should, what can be returned? Sophie Schönberger, professor of public law, art and cultural law, shows the difficulties, but also the opportunities, of dealing with a past that is constructed from the present.
Tabitha Oost explores critiques of Dutch restitution policy and concludes that institutional and substantive vulnerability is inevitable within a morally induced framework based on mere policy rules rather than legal rules.
The story of the author's quest to reclaim his family’s apartment building in Poland—and of the astonishing entanglement with Nazi treasure hunters that follows.
First published by the late Norman Palmer in 2000, the new edition has gathered contributors from over ten countries to show the important changes that have taken place around the world in the last 20 years.
On the 900 works of art from the collections of the Nazi leaders which entered the holdings of the Bavarian State Painting Collections in Munich in the 1950s and 1960s. Johannes Gramlich ask why and by whom some of these objects were returned to the families of the Nazi leaders or sold to third parties, a story described as one of great greed for profit, tactical silence and a sense of responsibility that grew only slowly and with much delay.
In this 2020 doctoral thesis, Theresa Sepp explores the career of Ernst Buchner (1892-1962) twice general director of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in Munich, first during the Nazi era and then again after it. She looks at his successful strategy of justifying and reinterpreting his activities after the end of the war, revealing him as a case study for personal continuities in the post-war period as well as for the suppression of the past within the art world and beyond.
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Heidelberg Art Law Conference in October 2019
Covering key aspects of provenance research for the international art market. It guides the reader from a basic introduction to research methods to questions of ethics and the challenges of specific case histories and contexts.
Contributions from a 2019 conference organised by Meike Hoffmann and Dieter Scholz on what motivated artists, art historians, and art dealers to try to link Expressionism with Nazism, the mechanisms which defined the canonisation of Expressionism in art history after the Second World War, and the return of ideologically charged concepts and patterns of argumentation in the present.
On the restitution by the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in 2020 of the oil painting 'Fischerboote bei Frauenchiemsee' by Joseph Wopfner to the heirs of Alfred Isay (1885–1948). The painting was part of the extensive collection of Abraham Adelsberger (1863–1940) of Nuremberg who gave it to Alfred Isay, his son-in-law, as security for a loan in 1932/33. Isay lost ownership of the painting in 1935, and the painting went to Martin Bormann, head of the Nazi Chancellery in Berlin. It was found by the Allies at the end of the war and, its rightful ownership unknown, handed over to the custody of the state of Bavaria. In 1956 Bavaria assumed ownership. The painting remained in their state collection for the next 64 years.
From the earliest days, no other Jewish banker was subjected to such malicious anti-Semitic hostility as Jakob Goldschmidt. In July 1931 in “Der Führer,” he was held responsible for having caused the collapse of the Danatbank, and was accused of being motivated by the typical Jewish greed for profit. This image outlived the Nazi regime and impacted the proceedings that he and his heirs initiated to reclaim their lost assets from that era. Now can a court ruling finally put an end to this?
The personal journey of Pauline Baer de Perignon, great-granddaughter of the renowned French collector Jules Strauss, tracing the story of what happened after the family apartment was raided by the Nazis in 1942 and accompanying her in her discoveries, her battles, her disappointments, and a form of reconciliation.
An article by Prof. Dr. Christoph Zuschlag, who holds the chair in Modern and Contemporary Art History (19th-21st century) with a focus on provenance research and the history of collecting at the University of Bonn, about the increasing impact of the 'provenance turn', that is, the development of provenance studies. He writes that they are connected to numerous cultural studies and humanities subjects, disciplines and discourses and should therefore be investigated in transdisciplinary cooperation. He considers that the 'provenance turn' will have a lasting and profound impact on university art history as well as practical museum work.
A Van Goyen from the Goudstikker collection illustrates the many “missing” Dutch paintings sold to Nazi-era German museums in cities that became part of postwar Poland where viable claims procedures for Holocaust victims and heirs are still lacking. It also raises important issues in provenance research for still-displaced Nazi-looted art.
Reflecting the latest research and illuminating lesser-known aspects of the Gurlitt case.
As the Allies advanced into Germany in April 1945, General Patton’s Third Army discovered the collections of the Berlin State Museums. The US military government ordered that 202 “works of art of greatest importance” be sent on a whistle-stop tour of 13 US cities. This fully illustrated volume is the first to examine the entire journey of the “202” and its historical-political implications.
Fritz Bauer (1903–1968) played a key role in the arrest of Adolf Eichmann and the initiation of the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials. There was a Jewish Museum exhibition in 2014 and then a film about Fritz Bauer as an Unlikely Movie Hero. Now an English translation of Ronen Steinke’s acclaimed biography has been published by Indiana University Press.
Celebrating storytelling and the ways in which we reflect on our lives, Monica Petzal explores German-Jewish refugee heritage, the themes of persecution, opposition and persistence through a series of 36 large-scale handmade lithographs. The book complements the exhibition 'Dissent and Displacement - A Modern Story'.
About the renowned harpsichordist and piano soloist, Wanda Landowska, a Polish Jew, whose musical collection was confiscated by the Nazi Sonderstab Musik in Paris in May 1940 and transported to Germany, some of it found by the Allies in May 1945. Carla Shapreau documents this history,what was recovered and how much remains missing today.
Nawojka Cieslinska-Lobkowicz explores the salons of the brothers Bernard and Abe Gutnajer, among a substantial number of Jewish art and antiques dealers who operated in pre-World War II Warsaw. Virtually everyone in their milieu perished in the Warsaw ghetto or Treblinka. Taking their place were new “Aryan” dealers and a clientele of “new” money. The Warsaw art market under the German occupation experienced a particular growth between the start of the Jewish ghetto’s liquidation in mid-1942 and the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, as “abandoned” property flooded the market.
Matthias Weller and Anne Dewey write about the concept of 'Flight Goods' in the context of the German government-funded project to 're-state the Washington Principles'.
Seventeen essays on the political and cultural implications of Jewish cultural property looted and displaced during the Holocaust.
Provenienzforschung: Bilanz und neue Wege: NS-Raubgut in technikhistorischen Sammlungen, Kriegsverluste märkischer Sammlungen, SBZ und DDR im Fokus der Provenienzforschung, Globale Geschichte in lokalen Museen?
The Gustav Cramer gallery in The Hague from 1938 was active throughout the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, and existed until 2007. The gallery records are believed to be complete and document dealings with Nazi agents and other art dealers known for engagement in trade with the Nazis. The paper explores the research potential of Cramer’s archive for a critical review of the inventory cards and to establish its significance for provenance research of artworks looted by the Nazis.
The book explores the subject as a cross-disciplinary activity and raises wide-ranging issues including aspects of authenticity, cultural meaning and material transformation and economic and commercial drivers, as well as collector and object biography.
Professor Limore Yagil challenges the widely disseminated image of a France sinking into Vichysism and collaboration by exploring the "anonymous" of the Resistance, the forgotten ones, those early heroes who dared to act by rejecting collaboration with Germany, thanks to whom the work of the Resistance could be accomplished, such as hoteliers, smugglers, social workers and doctors, priests, policemen, high school students, intellectuals, civil servants, teachers, pastors.
About the Jewish art historian and dealer Morton Bernath, who had to liquidate his dealership in Stuttgart in 1933. Parts of his stock were auctioned at Hugo Helbing in July 1934.
Carla Shapreau, Christine Laloue, and Jean-Philippe Échard confront the subject of provenance in the pre-war and World War II eras through the lens of one of France’s most important violin dealers. This case study bridges the archival gap between historical records held by the Smithsonian Institution and the Musée de la musique penned by the Parisian violin dealers Caressa & Français and later Emile Français.
Proceedings of the 2017 Lucca conference with papers by Victoria Reed, Gisèle Lévy, Iva Pasini Trzec, Darija Alujevic, Antonija Mlikota, Dario Brasca, Camilla Da Dalt, Cristina Cudicio, Elena Franchi, Gabriele Anderl, Anneliese Schallmeiner, Irene Bolzon, Fabio Verardo, Antonia Bartoli, Francesca Coccolo and Caterina Zaru. Subjects include Jewish collections in Croatia and Trieste, confiscation of Austrian Jewish collections in Trieste, the dispossession of Italian Jews, and collaborators, post-war trials and restitution.
On the fate of the Gurlitt collection and the definitive story of art in the Third Reich and Germany’s ongoing struggle to right the wrongs of the past.
An introduction to the Russian Federation’s cultural property legislation, focusing on the civil and criminal law provisions for cultural property acquisition, commerce, and protection.
An overview of the ongoing challenges to cultural heritage preservation in the EU, focusing on the UK and Italy, and presenting recommendations for improvement, from a non-EU citizen’s perspective.
Lawyer William L. Charron on the recent ruling in Cassirer v Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation. Charron explores the importance of comity, the facts and outcome in the case, the real question posed by the court whether Spain’s relevant commercial laws are ‘Just and Fair’ and the fairness of the outcome. He concludes that 'a good faith possessor who prevails on the basis of a choice of law ruling and comity, like TBC, succeeds justly. The policy reasons behind such a decision may not accord with sentiments behind the Washington Principles, but those reasons are no less important and worthy.'
The EU's final report on characteristics, criminal justice responses and an analysis of the applicability of technologies in the combat against the trade, available as a PDF on this site.
The Stadtbibliothek (StB) Hannover is currently searching for Nazi-looted property in its collections as part of a provenance research project.While most Nazi-looted research projects at libraries have so far focused on the review of access between 1933 and 1945, the StB follows a newer approach by (also) examining post-war acquisitions. The publication is available on this site.
Frankfurt in the 1920s was a pulsating city of art and culture, where numerous art collectors and large museums promoted a flourishing art trade. The National Socialists put an abrupt end to this heyday from 1933 onwards. The Nazi regime created a new art business that radically excluded Jewish artists, collectors and dealers and thus produced a gap for profiteers. 16 authors illuminate both central aspects of the robbery and forced expropriation during the Nazi regime and the special role of individuals and museums, including the Städel Museum and Liebieghaus.
The author argues that the emergence in the 1990s of a second wave of Holocaust-era restitution claims was not the result of a shift in mentalities leading to the sudden recognition of past wrongs or the surge of repressed memories but rather part of a larger process involving major transformations in global capitalism and property regimes.
An English translation of the 2015 history of the Central Collecting Point with a focus on the stories of the people who worked there at a time of lingering political suspicions; the research, conservation, and restitution process; and how the works of art were returned to their owners
An essay on the 20th anniversary of the Washington Principles and the Austrian art restitution law on the many excuses made by institutions not to carry out Nazi era provenance research, from which the author, Markus Stumpf of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte at the Universität Wien, has devised the game of 'bullshit bingo'.
Burkhart List tells the story of Austrian Hans Deutsch (1906-2002), whose career as a leading lawyer representing claimants in post-war Germany was destroyed by the German authorities who arrested him on bogus charges.
Inherited by his Jewish kindertransport daughter in 1951, the artworks by German cartoonist Albert Schaefer-Ast disappeared for almost 50 years. But then they began to be offered for sale by two art galleries and an auction house in what had formerly been the communist-controlled German Democratic Republic.
An essay by Carla Shapreau, Senior Fellow in the Institute of European Studies, Curator in the Department of Music and Lecturer in the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, on how over 175,000 of Europe’s bells were confiscated by the Nazis during World War II. By the war’s end, an estimated 150,000 bells were destroyed, leaving a sonic gap in the European landscape. Bells that remained were repatriated to their countries of origin. Bell losses were remembered at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and remain symbols of community and culture, war and peace.
On Hitler's distribution plan for confiscated Jewish art collections in Austria and the competition between Vienna, the Linz Museum and German museums for the 5,000 most important artworks.
Catalogue of the exhibition showing from 4 May 2018 - 3 February 2019 exploring post-war dealers' networks through whom the German museum acquired many works in its collection whose provenances were far from clean.
Based on two case studies, Irena Strelow describes the systematic "utilisation" of art collections of Jewish emigrants by the Berlin tax authorities between 1938 and 1945. Both the collection of Marie Busch, née Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and that of department store owner Georg Tietz were, in a perfectly organised bureaucratic process, converted into foreign exchange by the Berlin finance authorities.
An online Handbook to help museum staff, researchers, auctioneers, collectors, lawyers, private persons, dealers and other interested parties to trace Judaica objects that were looted or displaced during the 20th century, especially during World War II. These objects may be found in Jewish and non-Jewish museum collections; in private collections; in Jewish institutions such as communities, synagogues, seminaries; and on the market.
A critical review of the catalogue of the Gurlitt exhibitions in Berne and Bonn, in which Kahmann writes that the catalogue does not clearly define 'looted art' and in so doing contributes to the mistaken idea that the Gurlitt collection is largely comprised of looted art.
The story of what happened to the abandoned possessions of the thousands of Latvians who fled Riga or were deported to Germany leaving their apartments intact.
A review in the journal Kunstchronik by lawyer Dr Henning Kahmann of Sheila Heidt's recent book Restitutionsbegehren bei NS-Raubkunst which argues that loss of a work of art during the Nazi era by persecutees should be sufficient for its return.
The first in depth study of the purchase by the Prussian State for 7.5million RM on 15 August 1935 of more than 4,000 works of art from the Dresdner Bank taken almost entirely from Jewish collections.
Remy takes the view that Hildebrand Gurlitt was certainly not a Nazi or an art robber. The accusation that he enriched himself from the plight of the Jews cannot be sustained. The persecution of his son Cornelius Gurlitt by the authorities was crass injustice. The confiscation of the collection was unlawful.The German government kept this 'scandal' alive for years in order to distract from its own failings.
About the losing battle waged by the Lederer family to recover the Beethoven frieze in Vienna, a monumental cyle of work painted by Klimt in 1902 for the Vienna Secession, seized by the Nazis in 1938.
An analysis of the activities of Westphalian notaries in the Nazi era from a historical and legal perspective with a particular focus on their role in the aryanisation of property of both individuals and businesses.
The first comprehensive overview of Nazi-looted art as it has played out in U.S. courtrooms.
A selection from Friedländer’s Aphorismen aus Krieg- und Nachkriegszeit, a collection of notes about topics such as art and connoisseurship, the nature of man and Friedländer’s own personality.
The clergy of the Catholic Salvatorkirche in Berlin used their connections to the German Society for Christian Art in Munich and the dealer Rudolf Sobczyk when furnishing the church from 1933 to 1945. At first he dealt with objects from emergency sales and later from confiscations and the "property that had fallen to the Reich" of the deported Jews. Sobczyk benefited from the network of the Berlin art trade, which included above all the banned Jewish commission agents and art dealers, whom he specifically sought out
A novel about a Soutine painting linking parents who perished with their child who survived.
The contributors explore the continuities of art dealerships and auction houses from the Nazi period to the Federal Republic and take stock of the present political and cultural debate over the handling of the Gurlitt artwork.
Following the librarians seeking to restore the millions of plundered books to their rightful owners.
A study commissioned and supervised by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the JURI Committee.
Papers given at the conference organised by the Czech Documentation Centre for Property Transfers of Cultural Assets of WWII Victims.
About the double standard in Poland which urges other countries to undertake research and restitution but avoids this within Poland, although after the war, national institutions and private individuals often became the new owners of objects that had once belonged to private people or organizations persecuted by the Nazis. In the majority of cases, this affected Jewish individuals, Jewish communities and Jewish institutions.
Essays on the difficulties and failings of restitution in Germany from historical, scientific, art historical, legal and political points of view, edited by Barbara Vogel.
Patrick Golenia, Kristina Kratz-Kessemeier and Isabelle Le Masne de Chermont write the biography of Paul Graupe, the Berlin auctioneer who lived between two extremes in Nazi Germany.
A conversation between artists and art historians on the indelible presence of the Gurlitt estate in the history of Germany in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as an allegory that awaits conclusio and as a changing picture of the processes of revealing and concealing truth as they become visible and comprehensible in the history of art.
A catalogue of the twelve MNR works of art held at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes in France.
In tracing the origins of the Munich hoard, the book tells of the shady dealings of the Paris art world in the 1940s and recounts political debates in modern-day Berlin, as politicians and lawyers puzzle over the inadequacies of a legal framework that to this day falls short in securing justice for the heirs of those robbed by the Nazis.
How as an "official dealer" for Hitler and Goebbels, Hildebrand Gurlitt became one of the Third Reich's most prolific art looters. Yet he stole from Hitler too, allegedly to save modern art.
As the Emil Bührle collection is now to move into the planned extension at the Kunsthaus Zurich, designed by David Chipperfield, the authors ask: what are the source of the pictures, are any looted or flight assets, what is the source of the arms dealer's wealth, what was his part in the Nazi regime's art looting, and what is the artistic value of the collection.
Together with his family, Simon Goodman initiated the first Nazi looting case to be settled in the United States. Through painstaking detective work across two continents, Simon Goodman has been able to prove that many other works belonged to his grandparents, Fritz and Louise Gutmann, and has successfully secured their return.
The book tells how the vast enterprise of plunder was implemented in the streets of Paris by analyzing images from an album of photographs found in the Federal Archives of Koblenz, brought from Paris in 1945 and catalogued by the staff of the Munich Central Collecting Point. Beyond bearing witness to the petty acts of larceny, these images provide crucial information on how the Germans saw their work.
To read the 2015 report on research and restitution at the Bavarian State Paintings Collections Munich, click here.
A history of French negotiations with Germany between 1944 and 2001 for reparations for deportations, spoliation, war crimes and seized bank accounts.
Ten “forgotten trials” of the Holocaust, selected from the many Nazi trials that have taken place over the course of the last seven decades.
Report by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and World Jewish
A series of essays by American experts, including Nancy Yeide, Christian Huemer and Laurie Stein.
A review of provenance research conducted at the Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library) since 2003.
A study on the displacement and loss of musical instruments and associated items in Austria during the Nazi-era.
The next installment in an ongoing series of posts on real-life Monuments Men.
An updated and revised version of Stefan Koldehoff's 2009 book with a new chapter on the Gurlitt case.
A publication accompanying the exhibition Ravaged at the M - Museum Leuven.
A review of silver objects formerly in Jewish ownership in the holdings of the Münchner Stadtmuseums
The nature and scope of French music-related losses during the Nazi era, the status of post-war recoveries, and what remains missing today.
A legal history study of the Nazi expropriation of art work and its restutition.
On the claim for the Schneersohn ‘Library’ and ‘Archive’ pending in the US courts.
An updated and revised version of Martine Poulain's 2008 book.
On the myriad problems faced by US Occupation Forces in sorting out the riches hidden by the Third Reich.
Motor Vehicles as an Object of "Aryanisation": Provenance Research on the Vehicle Collection at the Deutsches Museum Munich and Research on the Expropriation of Motor Vehicles in Bavaria.
The story of the family of Max Steinthal, director of the Deutsche Bank in Berlin, and his daughter Eva, whose lives and great art collection were devastated by the Nazis.
Published as part of the report of the Mission d'étude sur la spoliation des Juifs de France
On the problem involving acquisition of despoiled works of art, their exhibition in museums and their trading through art galleries/antique dealers as well as some contemporary attempts to return them to their rightful owners.
Case-based research results from the provenance research of the City of Hanover based on extensive research in museum, library and city archives.