Responsibilities and specific tasks of the German Lost Art Foundation
The German Lost Art Foundation is a central point of contact in Germany for all matters pertaining to cultural goods which were unlawfully seized.
The Foundation supports provenance research through research grants.
The main activities of the Foundation focus on cultural assets confiscated by the National Socialists through persecution, particularly those from former Jewish owners (so-called “Nazi confiscated art”). The Washington Principles of 1998 serve as the basis of its efforts in this field, to which end Germany officially pledged to fulfil its historic and moral obligations in a Common Declaration in 1999. The Foundation’s Lost Art Database that is publicly accessible registers search requests and found reports for cultural assets in this field.
Through the Lost Art Database, the Foundation also publishes cultural property that was unlawfully seized, removed or relocated as a result of the Second World War (“wartime losses”). The starting point for the repatriation of cultural property displaced by war is international law, in particular the Hague Conventions of 1907 and of 1954.
Another field of activity of the Foundation is cultural property losses during the Soviet occupation and in the GDR. Irrespective of claims and the applicable legal situation, this is about coming to terms with historical processes, structures, and methods of the authorities, institutions and actors involved as well as the history of the victims or the aggrieved parties of state-operated art and cultural property confiscations.
As of April 2018, the Foundation is also active in the field of cultural goods from colonial contexts.
The German federal government, the Länder of the Federal Republic of Germany and the three national associations of local authorities established the German Lost Art Foundation on 1 January 2015 as an incorporated foundation under civil law with headquarters in Magdeburg.
Strengthening and expanding provenance research
By providing independent financial assistance to research projects, the Foundation promotes the study of:
- The history of artworks and other museum items, books and archived materials
- The fates of the victims
- The roles of all other active participants
The Foundation is dedicated to:
- Creating the conditions necessary for basic research
- Cooperating with university and non-university research institutions
- Establishing training programmes for provenance researchers as an integral component of Art History
- Supporting continuing education measures for museum staff
Building national and international transparency
- Documentation of search requests and found-object reports from domestic and foreign reporters in the area of “Nazi-looted property” and “wartime losses” via the Lost Art Database
- Documenting research findings
- Publishing academic and scientific works
- Coordinating and staging conferences and events
- Conducting press and public relations activities
Advising and networking
- Providing advice and support to public and private institutions and individuals in order to achieve “fair and just solutions”
- Mediating and forwarding inquiries to the responsible federal, state and municipal authorities
- Collaborating with non-profit provenance research organisations in Germany
- Supporting the independent “Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property”