What is the German Lost Art Foundation and what is its mission?
In order to aid the search for cultural assets and especially those of Jewish provenance which were illegally obtained through Nazi persecution ("Nazi confiscated property"), the German federal and state governments and leading municipal associations established the "Deutsche Zentrum Kulturgutverluste" (the German Lost Art Foundation) on 1 January 2015 as a civil-law foundation with headquarters in Magdeburg, Germany. The Foundation is based on Washington Principles of 1998, which Germany pledged to implement in its Joint Declaration in 1999. The Foundation is responsible for continuing and expanding the activities of the former Magdeburg Coordination Office and the former Office of Provenance Research in Berlin. It sees itself as the national and international contact partner for matters related to the illegal confiscation of cultural assets in Germany. Locating and identifying cultural assets seized by the Nazi regime comprises the focus of its activities. The Foundation is also responsible for investigating the war-related removal or relocation of cultural assets (so-called “looted property”) as well as the loss of cultural assets under Soviet occupation and in the GDR.
What are the tasks of the German Lost Art Foundation?
Strengthening and expanding provenance research
By providing financial assistance to research projects, the Foundation contributes to advancing research into the history of cultural assets, the fates of the victims and the roles of all other associated individuals during the years of National Socialism. The Foundation is committed to establishing cooperative partnerships with university and non-university research institutions, training provenance researchers as an integral component of higher education, and supporting continuing education measures for employees of museums, libraries and archives.
The German Lost Art Foundation strives to enhance transparency at the national and international level by documenting lost and found reports via the Lost Art Database, collecting, analysing and presenting research findings of projects funded by the Foundation, publishing academic and scientific works, organising conferences and events, and conducting press and public relations activities.
Advising and networking
In accordance with its funding policies, the German Lost Art Foundation provides advice and support to public and private institutions and – under certain circumstances – individuals as well. The projects, funded by the Foundation, generally strive to determine whether particular works should be classified as cultural assets illegally seized from Jewish owners as result of Nazi persecution ("Nazi confiscated property"). The Foundation mediates and forwards inquiries to the responsible federal, state and municipal authorities, and collaborates closely with non-profit provenance research associations.
It also serves as the head office of the independent "Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property".
What tasks are not the responsibility of the German Lost Art Foundation?
The German Lost Art Foundation is not responsible for conducting provenance research of its own. It provides advice and funding in accordance with its respective funding policies to public and private institutions, and – under certain circumstances – private individuals, so that they can conduct provenance research on their own collections.
The Foundation is not responsible for the restitution of works, nor is it active in any legal advisory function. The research findings, funded by the Foundation, may serve as the basis for making decisions on matters of restitution, on which the present owners have final say.
How long has the German Lost Art Foundation existed and where is it located?
The German Lost Art Foundation was established as a civil-law foundation by the German federal and state governments and leading municipal associations on 1 January 2015. Its headquarters are located in Magdeburg, Germany.
Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste
Telephone: +49 (0)391 727 763 0
Telefax: +49 (0)391 727 763 6
Who oversees and finances the German Lost Art Foundation?
The German federal and state governments and three leading municipal associations are responsible for overseeing the German Lost Art Foundation. On the basis of a financial agreement between the German federal government, represented by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, and the states of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Foundation receives a funding budget each year to cover its operating costs.
Who heads the German Lost Art Foundation?
Since May 15, 2020, the German Lost Art Foundation is headed by the executive board, Prof. Dr. Gilbert Lupfer (PDF, 62 KB) who already has been the honorary chairman since April 1, 2017. Up to May 14, 2020 Rüdiger Hütte was the full-time chairman.
How is the Foundation structured and organised?
The German Lost Art Foundation is a civil-law foundation with a legal capacity. It is headed and publicly represented by the executive board. The highest decision-making committee is the Foundation board which is chaired by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Prof. Monika Grütters. The position of chairperson alternates between federal and state oversight every three years. An international board of trustees, chaired by the Secretary General of the Cultural Foundation of German States, Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, advises and supports the activities of the executive and Foundation board. The funding committee, chaired by Dr. Hermann Simon, founding director of the Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum, is responsible for recommending funding to research proposals.
The Foundation is comprised of four separate departments. View the organigram below (PDF, 7 MB) for more details.
How much funding did the German Lost Art Foundation receive in 2018?
According to its business plan, the Foundation receives 5.95 million euros from the German federal government (represented by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media) and another restricted grant amounting to 61,000 euros from the Land Saxony-Anhalt in the 2018 financial year. The Foundation possesses capital assets totalling 50,000 euros.
Whatever became of the Koordinierungsstelle Magdeburg (Magdeburg Coordination Office) and the Bureau for Provenance Research in Berlin?
As soon as it was established, the German Lost Art Foundation took over the tasks of the Koordinierungsstelle Magdeburg (Magdeburg Coordination Office) and the Bureau for Provenance Research in Berlin. Both organisations, along with their staff, were integrated into the Foundation.