Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

The search for Nazi-confiscated property – Provenance research in Saxony-Anhalt

First public conference in Saxony-Anhalt, the federal state in which the German Lost Art Foundation is based

Date 2016.12.12

Ex­em­plary prove­nance re­search projects in Sax­ony-An­halt were pre­sent­ed at the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion’s con­fer­ence in Magde­burg. In a project run by Ot­to von Gu­er­icke Uni­ver­si­ty, for ex­am­ple, files were opened up at Sax­ony-An­halt state archive and used to com­pile in­for­ma­tion on Nazi-con­fis­cat­ed ob­jects, names of vic­tims and names of per­sons in­volved in ex­pro­pri­a­tions in prepa­ra­tion for prove­nance re­search. The prove­nance re­search project at the Kul­turhis­torisches Mu­se­um at Schloss Merse­burg was al­so pre­sent­ed as an ex­am­ple of a prac­tice-ori­ent­ed project. “The ini­tial check project cur­rent­ly be­ing con­duct­ed at five small and medi­um-sized mu­se­ums and ad­min­is­tered by Mu­se­umsver­band Sach­sen-An­halt is an im­por­tant step to­wards fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of the prove­nance re­search field,” ex­plained Prof. Uwe M. Schneede, mem­ber of the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion ex­ec­u­tive board, in the pres­ence of the Sax­ony-An­halt Min­is­ter of Cul­tur­al Af­fairs, Rain­er Ro­bra.

“We are al­so pleased to be able to an­nounce at this con­fer­ence that the Foun­da­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive board has ac­cept­ed the fund­ing re­quest from the Bib­lio­theksver­band Sach­sen-An­halt li­brary as­so­ci­a­tion,” con­tin­ued Schneede. The li­brary as­so­ci­a­tion will launch an ini­tial check project with the ap­proved fund­ing an­nounced to­day. The aim is to es­tab­lish whether the his­toric book hold­ings in pub­licly fund­ed mu­nic­i­pal li­braries (in Magde­burg, Dessau, Sanger­hausen, Wernigerode and Zerb­st) are sus­pect­ed of con­tain­ing cul­tur­al as­sets seized as a re­sult of Nazi per­se­cu­tion (Nazi-con­fis­cat­ed prop­er­ty). The ini­tial check can sub­se­quent­ly de­ter­mine whether or not there is a need for fur­ther, long-term prove­nance re­search. This is the first project of this kind to be car­ried out by a li­brary as­so­ci­a­tion.

“The projects pre­sent­ed here to­day re­flect the cur­rent in­creas­ing aware­ness of the need for prove­nance re­search in Sax­ony-An­halt,” said Schneede in his sum­ming up. In his clos­ing speech, he al­so high­light­ed the tasks, aims and ob­jec­tives of the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion.

The Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion is the na­tion­al and in­ter­na­tion­al con­tact part­ner for all mat­ters per­tain­ing to un­law­ful ex­pro­pri­a­tions in Ger­many in the 20th cen­tu­ry. The search for Nazi-con­fis­cat­ed prop­er­ty is the fo­cal point of the Foun­da­tion’s work, as this con­fer­ence on prove­nance re­search in Sax­ony-An­halt has im­pres­sive­ly demon­strat­ed.