Art looted From The Jewish was unabashedly handed back to the Nazis!
In the unfortunate and torturous times of the world war, the economies suffered, the men, women, and the children suffered, but so suffered the world of art too. Thousands of works of exquisite art and masterpieces were brutally looted from the Jewish families by the Nazis. These were then recovered by Monuments Men after the Second World War was over with an intent to restore them to their rightful owners. The recent researches however point to something terrible. These works of art instead of being reinstated to their original owners were in fact sold.
Bavaria’s State Painting Collections was entrusted by the Monument Men before they left Germany with 10,600 works of art that were to be returned to their rightful owners. It is only recently that the London based Commission for Looted Art in Europe or Clae has revealed that these works were either given away or sold to Germans, many of whom were in fact prominent Nazis instead. As per the statements given by Anne Webber from Clae, the claims made by the relatives of the Jewish owners or requests for information are even today stonewalled quite blatantly mostly.
It was during the process of investigating an artwork by Jan van der Heyden titled Dutch Square that is presently owned by the cathedral of Xanten, North Rhine- Westphalia that Clae uncovered this rude piece of history. The painting originally was owned by a Jewish Kraus family who had to flee Vienna in the year 1938 which led to their possessions being seized by and sold for the benefit of the Nazi administration.
This painting titled Dutch Square was sold to Heinrich Hoffmann who was not only the personal photographer for Hitler but was also the father- in- law of the Reich Youth Leader Baldur von Schirach. When the war got over, the collections of all the prominent Nazis including that of Hoffmann were all seized by the allies and then handed over to the Monuments Men. Before the Monuments Men returned to their countries, they passed on a collection of thousands of such artworks to the Bavarian state along with the responsibility of restituting them.
The Bavarian State Paintings Collections, however, instead of returning these priceless works to the original owners, returned these masterpieces to the Nazis who had looted or immorally acquired these earlier, or sold them to other collectors or buyers. Hoffmann’s daughter Henriette von Schirach bought back furniture pieces, carpets, and dozens of artworks including the Dutch Square. The rest of Hoffmann’s collection was subsequently bought back by other family members. Reichsmarschall Herman Göring’s wife, Emmy Göring, filed her claims too. As per Webber, the further research to confirm or contradict her success in this was blocked when Bavarian State Paintings Collections declined request by the researchers for permission to access the records.
Webber further goes on to comment that it was indeed odd that the Hoffmann family was able to get almost everything back that they claimed as their own, with little to no proof of ownership. This process of “reclamation” by the family carried on for almost two whole decades. However, the Jewish families from whom these treasures were looted by the Nazis, had to go through a tedious process of producing innumerable proofs of ownership.
Henriette von Schirach is believed to have sold off Dutch Square within months of reclamation to the Xanten cathedral community. Grandson of the Kraus couple from whom the painting was unethically taken has provided watertight proof of ownership of the painting, but the Xanten Cathedral community has rejected this claim.
Webber also states that the survivors of the Kraus family claim to have approached every German institution possible only to be denied any form of justice.