Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

Since the beginning of January there is a central point of contact in Berlin for enquiries from those whose cultural assets were seized as a result of persecution under the National Socialist regime, and their descendants. This “Help Desk” is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

Opening of the Berlin-based “Help Desk” for enquiries about cultural assets seized in the National Socialist era

Date 2020.01.09

Since the be­gin­ning of Jan­uary there is a cen­tral point of con­tact in Berlin for en­quiries from those whose cul­tur­al as­sets were seized as a re­sult of per­se­cu­tion un­der the Na­tion­al So­cial­ist regime, and their de­scen­dants. This “Help Desk” is fund­ed by the Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion­er for Cul­ture and the Me­dia.

Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion­er for Cul­ture and the Me­dia Moni­ka Grüt­ters states: “Many po­ten­tial resti­tu­tion cas­es are high­ly com­plex even with re­gard to con­tent. In or­der to fa­cil­i­tate ori­en­ta­tion for vic­tims of Na­tion­al So­cial­ist per­se­cu­tion and their de­scen­dants, who of­ten live abroad, and to pro­vide con­tact names, an ex­pe­ri­enced art his­to­ri­an is now avail­able in the Berlin ad­vi­so­ry of­fice. Those who ex­pe­ri­enced unimag­in­able suf­fer­ing at the hands of Ger­mans, ei­ther them­selves or their an­ces­tors, should not face bu­reau­crat­ic hur­dles but be giv­en as­sis­tance.”

Gilbert Lupfer, aca­dem­ic di­rec­tor on the Board of the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion, says: “Vic­tims of Na­tion­al So­cial­ist loot­ing of cul­tur­al as­sets and their de­scen­dants have for some time asked for more sub­stan­tial ex­pert ad­vice to as­sist with their search for their fam­i­lies’ cul­tur­al as­sets, to iden­ti­fy com­pe­tent con­tact per­sons and to en­able a di­a­logue at eye lev­el with mu­se­ums, li­braries and au­thor­i­ties in Ger­many. We are de­light­ed to have found a new col­league in Su­sanne Mey­er-Abich, who will cer­tain­ly bring her long-term in­ter­na­tion­al ex­pe­ri­ence and com­mu­ni­ca­tion com­pe­tence to this im­por­tant and sen­si­tive task.”

This is es­pe­cial­ly rel­e­vant, Pro­fes­sor Lupfer added, for those who do not live in Ger­many, do not speak Ger­man and are not fa­mil­iar with the prac­tices of Ger­man cul­tur­al fed­er­al­ism. “The new role of a trust­ed point of con­tact in Berlin was pre­cise­ly de­signed to fill this gap and to pro­vide ini­tial as­sis­tance and sup­port for those con­cerned.”

The art his­to­ri­an Dr Su­sanne Mey­er-Abich was ap­point­ed di­rec­tor of the Help Desk for en­quiries about cul­tur­al as­sets seized in the Na­tion­al So­cial­ist era on 1 Jan­uary 2020. She stud­ied art his­to­ry, En­glish and Ital­ian at Ruhr-Uni­ver­sität Bochum where she com­plet­ed her PhD in 1995. From 1998 to 2016 she worked for in­ter­na­tion­al auc­tion hous­es. From June 2016 Su­sanne Mey­er-Abich worked as spe­cial­ist trans­la­tor for art and cul­ture, and from Novem­ber 2016 as ed­i­tor of the Jour­nal for Art Mar­ket Stud­ies at Tech­nis­che Uni­ver­sität Berlin.

Deutsches Zen­trum Kul­turgutver­luste, Außen­stelle
Dr. Su­sanne Mey­er-Abich
Di­rec­tor "Help Desk"
Bertha-Benz-Straße  5
10117 Berlin
Tele­phone+49 (0) 30 34 65 542 49
Tele­fax+49 (0)391 727 763 6
emailhelpdesk@kul­turgutver­luste.de

The Help Desk is staffed five days per week, with gen­er­al tele­phone avail­abil­i­ty of­fered Mon­day to Thurs­days 14h to 18h (Berlin time) and by ap­point­ment, via e-mail any time.

The Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion in Magde­burg was es­tab­lished in 2015 by the Ger­man Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment, the Län­der, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the lead­ing Ger­man mu­nic­i­pal as­so­ci­a­tions. It is the main point of con­tact both na­tion­al­ly and in­ter­na­tion­al­ly in Ger­many for all en­quiries about un­law­ful seizures of cul­tur­al as­sets in the 19th and 20th cen­turies which are to­day held by col­lec­tions in Ger­man in­sti­tu­tions ded­i­cat­ed to pre­serv­ing these as­sets. The main fo­cus of the Foun­da­tion are cul­tur­al as­sets seized due to per­se­cu­tion in the Na­tion­al So­cial­ist era, es­pe­cial­ly from Jew­ish own­ers. The Foun­da­tion con­sid­ers its work an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to re­dress suf­fered in­jus­tices.