Germany: Looted art restitution project shows first results

The marble sculpture Susanna by the artist Reinhold Begas, once belonged to Jewish-German newspaper publisher Rudolf Mosse, is displayed at the 'Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, Wednesday, May 2, 2018. The sculpture is one of nine works which restituted from the collections and now are parts of Berlin's state museums. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Roger Strauch, a representative for the heirs of German-Jewish newspaper publisher Rudolf Mosse, poses in front of the marble sculpture Susanna by the artist Reinhold Begas at the 'Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, Wednesday, May 2, 2018. The sculpture, once belonged to Jewish-German newspaper publisher Rudolf Mosse, is one of nine works which restituted from the collections and now are parts of Berlin's state museums. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN — Several German cultural institutions and the American heirs of a German-Jewish family on Wednesday presented the first results of their joint efforts to restitute a vast art collection stolen by the Nazis.

Berlin's state museums found in their collections nine artworks the Nazis took from the family of Berlin newspaper publisher Rudolf Mosse, and returned them to Mosse's heirs. The museums have since bought three of the pieces, including the marble sculpture "Susanna" by artist Reinhold Begas.

The other two works sold to the state museums are a Roman child sarcophagus and a sculpture of a reclining lioness by August Gaul.

Other German museums and research institutions are involved in the huge effort to identify and return over 1,000 pieces of art that are believed to have been stolen from Mosse's family, a project called the Mosse Art Research Initiative.

"So far, we have begun research on 115 works, and have uncovered reliable information on 68 of them," project coordinator Meike Hoffmann said.

A representative of Mosse's heirs, Roger Strauch, told reporters in Berlin that the joint project was unique because of the cooperation of all the institutions involved.

"The project does not aim to cast blame," Strauch said. "Rather, we are committed to returning property to their rightful heirs, as well as being sensitive to the inevitable awkwardness involved in this process."

In other restitution cases, claims by heirs to property taken from or sold by relatives under duress during World War II sometimes have led to conflicts.

The current owners — usually museums or private collectors — have resisted returning valuable items if they don't think the proof of a family's prior ownership or Nazi involvement is strong enough to hand over the disputed pieces.

Born in 1843, Mosse was part of the Jewish community that enjoyed success in Germany before the rise of the Nazis. He was the publisher of the liberal daily Berliner Tageblatt and several other newspapers, and also owned about 130 trade magazines.

Mosse's adopted daughter Felicia inherited a collection comprising thousands of paintings, sculptures, books, antiquities and furniture when her father died in 1920. Mosse's favorite artists included Max Liebermann, Oswald Achenbach, Franz Lenbach and Adolph Menzel.

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the family was forced to flee and their property was confiscated.

Berlin's Free University, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, the German Lost Art Foundation and several art museums are contributing to the restitution project by sharing research expertise.

Project coordinator Hoffman said the results will be published on an online portal of the Free University.

People also read these

The Latest: 'La La Land' wins best picture at...

Feb 12, 2017

"La La Land" has been named best picture at the British Academy Film Awards

US vice president visits former Nazi...

Feb 20, 2017

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence toured the site of a former Nazi concentration camp

Fashion takes London by storm with Preen,...

Feb 19, 2017

London Fashion Week is nearing its climax with shows by Preen, Topshop, Mulberry and others taking...

Burberry draws on sculptor Henry Moore in fashion...

Feb 20, 2017

All eyes were on Burberry and creative director Christopher Bailey Monday night as London Fashion...

Brazil's sexy Carnival puts Pentecostal mayor in...

Feb 23, 2017

Rio de Janeiro's Carnival is known for its heavy partying and carnal delights, and that puts the...

About Us

Kayak Away aims to bring the latest news, techniques, destinations, and stories that inspire you to get on the water. We are all here together to share all the awesome tips and tricks to kayak.

Contact us: sales[at]kayakaway.com

Subscribe Now!