• Germany edition
 
Pressure rises to return art stolen by Nazis
Photo: DPA

Pressure rises to return art stolen by Nazis

Published: 29 Jan 2013 11:24 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Jan 2013 11:24 GMT+01:00

That Germany must make greater efforts to locate, identify and return art looted during the Third Reich is well known in the art world.

But Der Spiegel magazine reported over the weekend that a carpet of unclear provenance that came from Hermann Göring's collection was in Angela Merkel's Chancellery. Tapestries from the same collection were hung on the walls of the government's guest house in Bonn, the magazine reported.

Peter Gauweiler, a veteran MP from the Bavarian Christian Social Union, sister party to Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, called on Tuesday for new ideas of how to cope with the huge number of art works concerned. Der Spiegel suggested that only 84 museums had completed a full provenance check - out of 6,300 museums in the country.

Gauweiler, who is head of the parliamentary committee for foreign cultural and education policy, said the topic needed to be discussed. "How we deal with these works of art also influences the reputation of the federal republic abroad," he told the magazine.

"We have to deal with this freed from the shadows of the past," he added.

Former secretary of state for culture Michael Naumann told Der Spiegel at the weekend the legal framework for returning art that had been stolen or bought cheaply when the owners were under duress - or paying compensation - to heirs.

He said more money was needed for research into provenance of artworks, and suggested that €10 million be taken for this from the budget already earmarked for a new museum for the Sudeten Germans who were driven out of the Czech Republic after the war.

The Nazis had collected nearly five million pieces of art by the end of the war - stolen from across the continent and hidden in 1,500 depots in various countries. Many were destroyed after 1945, many also stolen by soldiers or civilians, but by 1950 it is thought around half had been returned to their original owners, Der Spiegel said.

But many thousands are still in museums, while around 20,000, including 2,300 paintings are in the possession of the government, the magazine said.

Museums should really check all their exhibits acquired since 1933 to make sure they have good records of legitimate sales, but this would require an enormous and expensive effort. The Bavarian state painting collection has one employed art historian who is supposed to check the provenance of 4,400 paintings and 770 sculptures, which as Der Spiegel said, would be a life's work.

Art restitution cases still reach court on a regular basis, when heirs to mostly Jewish but also other Nazi victims manage to track down works of art and make a claim. But many say it should be the responsibility of those museums in possession of the art to contact the heirs.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

15:29 January 29, 2013 by Firmino
Finders keepers!
18:04 January 29, 2013 by McM
I don't know much about art but that painting matches the gallery, ...er couch Hans.
00:26 January 30, 2013 by US-TommyBoy
Sure, return it. After whoever proves that they owned it pays for it. War is hell, sorry.

What about the money stolen? Or the lives stolen? Who is the time keeper?

So to the art seeking whiners sorry but there is a German word I feel is appropriate...SCHADENFREUDE.
01:45 January 30, 2013 by sonriete
What if they returned everything anyone sold cheaply "under duress" ?
Today's headlines
Munich man arrested for foreigner death threats
Photo: DPA

Munich man arrested for foreigner death threats

A man from Munich was arrested on Monday for posting videos on Facebook in which he posed with a gun and threatened to kill foreigners. READ  

View from Germany
'Only losers in economic war with Russia'
Volkswagen is the German company with the biggest turnover Russia. Photo: DPA

'Only losers in economic war with Russia'

German businesses are lobbying hard against imposing tougher sanctions on Russia after the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, warning further sanctions would hurt the country's exports and threaten German jobs. READ  

Man sets himself on fire outside Israeli embassy
The Israeli Embassy in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Man sets himself on fire outside Israeli embassy

UPDATE: A man set himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Berlin on Monday night. Police said it was too soon to say whether it was part of a political protest. READ  

Thousands of litres of beer close motorway
Photo: NRW-aktuell.tv/YouTube screenshot

Thousands of litres of beer close motorway

Thousands of litres of beer were spilled on a motorway near Duisburg in western Germany on Monday night, when a truck carrying several hundred crates of Bitburger toppled over, shutting the Autobahn. READ  

Court allows patients to grow their own cannabis
Photo: DPA

Court allows patients to grow their own cannabis

Seriously ill patients will be allowed to grow their own cannabis at home for medicinal purposes, a German court ruled on Tuesday. READ  

Seven German family members killed in Gaza
An Israeli strike on Gaza City on Monday. Photo: DPA

Seven German family members killed in Gaza

UPDATE: Seven members of a German family living in Gaza City were killed in an Israeli air strike on Monday evening. READ  

Workers in Germany pay record tax sum
Photo: DPA

Workers in Germany pay record tax sum

Workers in Germany are paying a record amount of tax into government coffers, according to figures published on Monday. Those on an average wage of €40,000 pay almost twice as much tax in Germany as they would in the United States or Australia. READ  

Netflix to launch in Germany in September
Laverne Cox, star of Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Photo: EPA/PETER FOLEY

Netflix to launch in Germany in September

Netflix revealed plans on Monday to launch in Germany in September this year, bringing the popular movie and TV streaming service to one of the world’s biggest markets. READ  

Steinmeier: We'll raise pressure on Russia
An armed separatist walks past the bodybags of victims of the MH17 crash. Photo: EPA/IGOR KOVALENKO

Steinmeier: We'll raise pressure on Russia

Germany's foreign minister said Monday the EU will "raise the pressure" on Russia over the Ukraine crisis following the downing of Malaysian flight MH17 with a suspected missile. READ  

No foreigner road toll for German borders?
Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (l) and Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer are fighting over the "foreigner toll". Photo: DPA

No foreigner road toll for German borders?

Bavaria’s interior minister has called for German border regions to be exempt from a controversial project to charge foreigners to use the country’s roads, sparking a row within his own party. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Jobtalk: How innovative is Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Joachim Löw: A career in pictures
Photo: Submitted
Society
Is this expat cat the world's oldest?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Germany's week in pictures: July 12th - July 18th
Photo: DPA
National
Heatwave to bring highs of 36C to Germany
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Should Germany follow France and ban the burqa?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Which workers is Germany short of?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten best expat jobs in Germany: Which one would you choose?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: Shutterstock
Features
Some of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make in German
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,227
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd