AJC Applauds German Government Decision to Establish Art Restitution Task Force

November 12, 2013 – Berlin -- AJC welcomed the German government decision to appoint a task force to investigate the circumstances surrounding the recent discovery in Munich of more than 1400 artworks looted by the Nazis.

“The task force is a positive first step,” said Deidre Berger, Director of the AJC Berlin Ramer Institute. Berger, in an interview last weekend with the German online newsmagazine Focus, had urged the German government to set up a special commission to investigate the status of Nazi looted art in Germany and to oversee the return of objects to their rightful owners.

The task force announcement comes amidst growing criticism of how and why the discovery of the stolen art in Munich was kept quiet for so long.

"Holocaust survivors are aging and precious time has been lost. Everything must be done to determine the rightful owners of the paintings," said Berger. “The government must ensure that the task force has adequate resources, as it is incomprehensible that until now only one art historian was tasked to investigate the more than 1,400 pieces of art.”

Berger called for immediate transparency in the process of returning the artworks to survivors. “The government should make every effort to post on its looted art website all the artworks found in Munich,” she said.

In addition, Berger called on the German government to review all existing laws on art restitution. “The 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht is the right time to send the signal that change is necessary.”

Date: 11/12/2013 12:00:00 AM