• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Museums aim to probe Nazi art seizures

The Local · 26 Jan 2011, 15:17

Published: 26 Jan 2011 15:17 GMT+01:00

Artworks previously stolen and looted by the National Socialists before and during the Second World War are frequently restored to heirs by museums. But the respected Städel Museum this year became the first to publish a book on its own ties to Nazi seizures.

Museum in Widerspruch, or “Museum in Conflict,” details what it called the institution’s “contradictory development” under the totalitarian regime.

For example, while officials there felt they could not prevent the confiscation of large quantities of so-called "degenerate art," they did not refrain from publicly expressing that it was a great loss. Meanwhile private collections in danger of being seized by the Nazi party were secretly stored by the museum.

The detailed book is a new benchmark that other museums hope to emulate.

Nazi confiscation of modernist “degenerate art” has been well documented by German museums, but research of museum involvement has been “universally bad,” according to art historian and book co-author Uwe Fleckner.

“At the beginning one was mainly preoccupied with the paintings,” deputy director of Wuppertal’s Von der Heydt Museum, Antje Birthälmer, said of looted Nazi art. “Only slowly have we thought about illuminating the background.”

Director of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne, Andreas Blühm, called the new efforts by the Städel Museum a trailblazing example to the rest of the country’s art establishments. The museum now also plans a similar study of its own past.

“I believe we’ll have a lot to tell,” he said.

Some 100 people across Germany are currently concerned solely with provenance research, compared to just about 10 a decade ago, says another expert, art historian for the Bavarian State Picture Collections, Andrea Bambi.

“Germany has done quite a bit in the area of rehabilitation in the last years,” she said.

Art museum officials in Hamburg, Stuttgart, Hannover, Karlsruhe and Essen all said they were currently working on their own research and would like to incorporate their own museums' part in the dark history into the research.

Story continues below…

But Stuttgart in particular may find this a challenge, “because we suffered a total loss of files between the time of 1933 and 1945,” Director Sean Rainbird said.

While the research may be painstaking, "Museum in Conflict" co-author Fleckner said it remains essential.

“Bit by bit, artwork by artwork, they must be meticulously examined,“ he said. “We can’t come to any blanket judgements.“

DPA/ka

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

17:07 January 26, 2011 by William Thirteen
excellent. There is still much to be researched in this fascinating realm. For those interested, check out 'The Rape of Europa' by Lynn H. Nicholas (as well as the film of the same name). Hermann & Adolf were quite the collectors - by hook or by crook. Of course their tastes ran to the most kitsch of kunst. And it wasn't just art - after the deportations of the Parisian Jews - entire trains filled with furniture and other personal items were dispatched back to Fatherland to keep the populace fat & happy with consumer goods despite the economy's war footing....
19:01 January 26, 2011 by catjones
Paging Nefertiti, paging Nefertiti. Queen Nefertiti, you have a call waiting.
Today's headlines
Ansbach suicide attack
Isis says Syrian bomber in Bavaria one of its 'soldiers'
Photo: DPA

The Syrian asylum seeker who blew himself up outside a music festival in Germany was a "soldier" of the Isis, the jihadist-linked Amaq news agency said on Monday.

Merkel's refugee policy was 'reckless': Left Party leader
Photo: DPA

The attacks carried out by refugees over the past week show accepting large numbers of refugees brings "significant problems", the party's chairwoman said on Monday.

Ansbach suicide attack
What we know about the Ansbach suicide bomber
The attacker's rucksack. Photo: DPA

He had had his asylum application rejected and had twice attempted suicide, say authorities.

Ansbach suicide attack
Ansbach suicide bomber confirms Isis loyalty in video
Police remove evidence from the bombers residence. Photo: DPA

The man who blew himself up in Ansbach, Bavaria, on Sunday evening, injuring 15 people, recorded a video in which he pledged his allegiance to terror group Isis.

Top 10 German firms with the highest-paid employees
Photo: DPA

Want to know which companies shell out the most for salaries?

How will Germany change after string of bloody attacks?
A policeman in Ansbach on Sunday evening. Photo: DPA

Within seven days Germany has been hit by four bloody attacks on innocent people on its streets and in a train. What does this unprecedented string of murders mean for the country?

After attacks, minister rejects blanket suspicion of refugees
Thomas de Maiziere. Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Monday cautioned Germans against indiscriminately branding all refugees a security threat after a rash of attacks over the last week.

What we know about the Reutlingen knife attack
Police arrest the attacker. Photo: DPA

... and what we don't.

Munich shooting
Police arrest possible accomplice of Munich gunman
Mourners in Munich. Photo: DPA

Authorities in Munich believe that a friend of the teenager who murdered nine people at a Munich shopping centre may have known about his plans.

Ansbach suicide attack
Suicide bomber attacks bar in Bavaria
Photo: DPA

A Syrian migrant set off an explosion at a bar in southern Germany that killed himself and wounded a dozen others late Sunday, authorities said, the third attack to hit Bavaria in a week.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,700
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd