Germany must introduce a law specifically aimed at facilitating the return of Nazi-looted art, the head of the World Jewish Congress said Thursday after meeting with top German officials. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said there were still thousands of priceless artworks in the hands of individuals and museums that were stolen from Jews under the Third Reich and said the country was not legally equipped to handle such cases.
“One of the main reasons that these problems still exist is that there is no law in Germany that addresses the restitution of looted art,” he said at a museum documenting the Nazi terror. He noted that Germany had already negotiated compensation on “the difficult issues of slave labour, stolen bank deposits and insurance policies”. “I encourage Germany to deal with Nazi-looted art in the same comprehensive manner,” he said, calling the works “the last prisoners of World War II”. Lauder said he pressed this point in talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Justice Minister Heiko Maas. The onus should be on museums, not the victims of Nazi plundering, to search their collections for stolen works and track down their rightful owners, he said.
“Austria has done this. France and Holland have made steps in this direction and the UK has a commission that is available to examine claims and advise the government on restitution,” he said. “But this is Germany, where the crime began. More is required.” Lauder reiterated a call he made in an interview with AFP in November for Germany to lift a 30-year statute of limitations on reclaiming stolen property, and for the formation of an international commission that would help process claims and examine public collections in Germany for stolen works. The state of Bavaria said this month it was drafting a national law to eliminate the statue of limitations that some art collectors have used to protect their holdings from claims stemming from the Nazi era. Lauder welcomed the draft law, which is to go before the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament which represents Germany’s 16 states, on February 14, as “evidence of good faith”. ‘Hundreds of lawsuits’ He made the proposals after the revelation late last year that the son of a prominent Nazi-era art dealer had hoarded more than 1,000 valuable works in his Munich flat, many of which may have been extorted or stolen from Jewish collectors. A lawyer for the man, 81-year-old Cornelius Gurlitt, told German media this week that he was in talks with individual families about their claims with the aim of reaching “fair and equitable solutions”.
Lauder, however, warned that the Gurlitt case was likely to spawn “hundreds of separate lawsuits”. He said a claims commission would “rationalise the process and hopefully keep these claims out of the courts”. And he criticised the fact that a board of advisors known as the Limbach Commission, set up by Germany to help resolve ownership disputes, could only offer non-binding recommendations. Lauder said the Nazis had kept detailed records so that in most cases provenance could be determined. On Wednesday, the government’s top official for cultural issues, Monika Gruetters, told parliament that Germany plans to double public funding for restitution efforts following widespread criticism of its handling of the issue, and streamline the claims process. She added that Germany was prepared to include Jewish representatives on the Limbach Commission. The WJC, which Lauder has chaired since 2007, represents 100 Jewish communities outside Israel. The billionaire philanthropist and art collector, son of the cosmetics mogul Estee Lauder, set up a foundation in 1987 with the goal of rebuilding Jewish communities in central and eastern Europe devastated in World War II.–World-Jewish-Congress-President-Ronald-S–Lauder-?goback=%2Egde_2293836_member_5835019909641289732#.Uu03__ZzuW1[/url]
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  1. Looted art is a term often reduced to refer to artwork plundered by the Germans during World War II in Europe.[1][2][3] However, the Nazis were neither the first nor the last to loot art on a large scale. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is on record with the following quote:
    “ “The plunder and looting of art and other treasures was not limited to the Third Reich…. The Soviet[4] and American[5] armies also participated, the former more thoroughly and systematically, the latter at the level of individuals stealing for personal gain.

    In July 1862, Francis Lieber, a professor at Columbia College, who had worked with Halleck on guidelines for guerrilla warfare, was asked by Halleck, now General-in-Chief of armies of the Union, to develop a code of conduct for the armed forces. The code of conduct, published as General Orders No. 100 on April 24, 1863, signed by United States President Abraham Lincoln, later became known as the Lieber Code[9] and specifically authorized the Armies of the United States to plunder and loot the enemy – a mindset that Hitler’s armies copied one century later. The Lieber Code said in Article 36: “If such works of art, libraries, collections, or instruments belonging to a hostile nation or government, can be removed without injury, the ruler of the conquering state or nation may order them to be seized and removed for the benefit of the said nation. The ultimate ownership is to be settled by the ensuing treaty of peace.”[18][19] Russian and American forces relied on similar frameworks when they plundered Germany after the defeat of the Nazis.[6]

    1. Thank you for your comment. Yes, you are correct the looting was everywhere. However, you seem to be leaving out the accord that all countries signed in 1997 to do whatever was necessary to return nazi looted art and repatriate, especially to the Jews.

      I have no understanding why you are quoting law from the civil war. the only law of pertinence which is ridiculous to be in effect from the civil War is that a Veteran can not pay an attorney more than $10 for representation. which is why there are 900,000 backlogged cases in the VA system. I know. I defend our valiant heroes on a pro bono basis at the Veteran’s Supreme Court in Washington DC.

      1. The reason being is that the USA approved of Plundering just as all nations have in war time, the United States Government still has plundered art, it has not returned it.

        Russian and American forces relied on similar frameworks when they plundered Germany after the defeat of the Nazis.[6]

        From what I can gather from your posts, you seem to be Anti-German, like you have a hate for anything German except of course the art you can make a buck from that. It seems that Germans always lie when they write about art, but of course only you write the truth.

        1. Dear Josef-Peter,

          I’m German, I’m anti-nazi that’s for sure. And the Germans DO APPEAR TO BE ALWAYS LYING about there shameful history or the entire world organizations would not be constantly litigating against them. They sure didn’t waste time making a Degenerate Art show they intend on sending around the world as fast as they could generating big monies-covering up the Gurlitt affair for two years and then slapping this exhibition together in three months-between the revelation of the find and the release of the Monuments Men movie. Yes, we’ve already covered the ground that i agreed with you that looting was going on everywhere and still is stoday, it’s just called forgery.

          if you’d like to comment on anything new, please do but we won’t be covering this territory again. this is not LinkedIN and while I welcome all comments that aren’t spam, I will not be dragged into harangues. it would be unfair to other readers and very distracting from new research.

          And Peter-Josef, I published a book, it’s on Amazon, many people write books. if you’d like to buy a copy please feel free, it’s titled The Secret Cipher of Albrecht Durer. I can’t imagine what kind of problem you would have of publishing new research, it only took 7 years to organize. there have been many free give aways of the book.

          this is a rhetorical question, requiring no response. Are you German? If yes, are you potentially defensive about your country’s horrendous historical past? if German and not willing to admit that history is a story of conqueror’s who distort the truth-it’s all propaganda, and I’m publishing verifiable facts which highlight myths that have been preciously guarded for centuries, there really is nothing more to discuss.



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