Sunday, November 19, 2006
In The Name Of Humanity, Do The Right Thing Germany !!
Germany Aims for Better Restitution Process for Nazi-Looted Art
The German government has invited museum directors and legal experts to Berlin on Monday to discuss claims for art bought or seized by the Nazis. Museums hope to play a more active role in the restitution process.
Germany's Culture Minister Bernd Neumann has invited leading museum representatives and legal experts to the Berlin Chancellery on Monday. A government spokesman said Neumann wanted to get an idea of the situation facing German museums for artwork unfairly bought or confiscated by the Nazis before and during World War Two.
Museum directors have said they are going into the meeting with no demands, but rather suggestions on the major problems at hand concerning restitution. A top item on their list is so-called "provenance" research, which traces the origins of a piece of art.
"We believe more funds need to be invested into this kind of research," said Mechtild Kronenberg, director of the German Museum Association -- a sentiment shared by the Jewish Claims Conference. It said that provenance research was a key factor to help come to terms with the consequences of the Nazi's art theft.
"But German institutions in particular should not lag behind internationally established standards," the Conference said in a position paper, such as those of US and British museums.
However, there is only one researcher working full-time on provenance, Ute Haug at the Hamburg Kunsthalle. Two other museums, the Dresden State Art Collections and the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, have art historians investigating their collections, but in part-time or temporary positions. It is a small contribution to this kind of research considering Germany is home to several thousand museums.
Promises aren't footing the bill
Haug said she hoped the Berlin meeting would make the situation more transparent for Neumann, as the problem itself is nothing new. Already in 1998, the "Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets" took place, which addressed issues surrounding the restitution of assets confiscated between 1933 and 1945.
"For eight years, these difficulties have been known, for eight years there has been no money for provenance research, and for eight years there have been restitutions which could have gone better," Haug said.
Art Hostage comments:
The bottom line is: " every work of art deemed unlawfully obtained by any institution must be handed over to the aggrieved party"
If the said institution wants to purchase the work of art back, it must be funded by a special restitution fund and they must buy it back publicly, thereby acting in good faith and in a transparent manner.
The cost may well run into hundreds of millions for the German Govt, but will, I am sure be worth Billions in positive publicity.
A study worth researching would be the cost of buying all the disputed works of art back via public auction, against the benefit of a positive publicity generated by a campaign to promote the New Germany.
Anything less will be viewed by academics, the media, and the general populace, as a feeble attempt to "Airbrush" history and avoid Germany's International obligations.
Furthermore, any attempt by the German authorities to deny one cent of the true value of the disputed works of art will result in a political backlash, not least by the Jewish lobby in America.
Rather than just the cost of buying these works of art back publicly, the backlash will cost the German economy billions, and the goodwill built up over many years post 1945.
This is not just a question of honourable restitution, it is a matter of principal that offers to the world the true meaning of 21st century Germany,God forbid, the "Sonderweg" in the cellar, whose name is "German Nationalism?"