Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

The Foundation

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.

Spe­cif­ic tasks

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”


DZK_Prove­nanceRe­search.mp4 (MP4, 174MB)

The film is avail­able for down­load free of charge. It may be used and dis­trib­ut­ed un­der the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 li­cense.
© Deut­sches Zen­trum Kul­tur­gut­ver­lus­te, bild­bad