April 24, 2024

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The report found that most countries had made “little or no progress” in returning artworks looted by the Nazis.

The report found that most countries had made “little or no progress” in returning artworks looted by the Nazis.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published by Art newspapereditorial partner of CNN Style.


More than half of the countries that signed a declaration endorsing the Washington Principles — a set of standards intended to guide the return of works of art looted by the Nazis — have made “little or no progress” in returning stolen property in the 25 years since the principles. It has been formulated, according to new a report It was released by the World Jewish Redemption Organization (WJRO) on Tuesday.

The restitution framework was formulated during the Washington Conference on Holocaust-era Origins in 1998 and consists of: 11 non-binding principles It aims to guide countries with different legal systems through issues relating to art seized during the Nazi era in the context of their own laws. These principles also encourage countries to identify and research cultural property that may have been transferred to them during that period World War II And return works that were looted, confiscated, or sold under duress.

Of the 47 countries that ratified the 2009 Terezin Declaration, which includes the principles, seven countries made significant progress, three countries made significant progress, 13 countries made some progress, and 24 countries made little or no progress, according to For Tuesday's report.

“This report underscores the urgent need for progress in reclaiming artistic and cultural properties,” WJRO President Gideon Taylor said in a statement. “Reclaiming rights from public bodies or individuals is not just about returning what was taken. It is about reconnecting families and communities to their heritage. Over the past 25 years, there has been great progress, but we still have a lot of work to do.

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The rankings were based on whether a country had conducted historical research into the recovery of artworks seized during World War II, researched the provenance of its own collections, established a process for filing claims on potentially looted artworks, or conducted a significant number of Of compensation.

Countries determined to make significant progress in implementing the Washington Principles are Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The 13 countries that have made some progress are Argentina, Belgium, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland and Serbia.

Frederic Florin/AFP/Getty Images

A 2022 exhibition at the Palais de Rohan Museum, in Strasbourg, France, will feature artworks owned by Jewish families and looted by the Nazis during World War II.

According to the report, most of the countries that signed the Terezin Declaration made little or no progress at all. These include Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Russia, Spain and Turkey.

The release of the report coincided with an event held by WJRO and the US State Department in New York, during which US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a keynote address via video endorsing best practices in the recovery of arts and cultural property. By 22 countries, led by countries with dedicated Holocaust envoys. This marks the first government document on Holocaust recovery to be passed in nearly 15 years, a move WJRO said will help advance the recovery of artistic and cultural properties.

In the 25 years since the Washington Principles were established, source research has achieved significant successes, thanks in part to the digitization of the archive and improved access to it. Most signatory countries have also conducted at least some historical research, and there is more information about how cultural property was looted during World War II, according to the report.

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However, the report notes that museums around the world still “continue to ignore” research, adding that in most countries, verifying the provenance of a collection is not a core part of museum practice. The Washington Principles were drafted with the goal of covering private collections as well, but there has been much less progress in recovering works now held by individuals, the report found. There is still significant scope for improving provenance research, transparency and facilitating recovery claims when it comes to private collectors, according to the report.

Stuart E. said: Eisenstat, special advisor to the US Secretary of State on Holocaust issues, said in a statement: “Transparency is key to the fair and equitable recovery and return of artistic and cultural property looted by the Nazis to survivors and their heirs.” “The recently adopted best practices share lessons learned, including the importance of conducting and publishing research on provenance, removing legal barriers to property recovery, and recognizing that looted artwork includes pieces sold under duress.”

The report found that while claims processes have been implemented in many countries, the number of cases handled and the number of successful compensation cases typically remain low. Only five of the 47 countries that supported the Terezin Declaration have established a restitution committee to deal with claims. The report also found that there is greater public awareness of cultural property that was owned by Jewish communities before World War II, but in many cases, these objects remain in private hands rather than being part of the collective heritage of the Jewish people.

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“For us Holocaust survivors, (these) works of art are part of our cultural heritage, part of our lives, and part of our past,” US Ambassador Colette Avital, head of the Center for Holocaust Survivors’ Organizations in Israel, said in a statement. Statement published by WJRO. “They are the silent witnesses to the lives and loves of individuals, families and communities cruelly murdered and whose memories we cherish.”

Read more stories from Al Fan newspaper here.