Fair and just solutions
In the context of efforts to return cultural assets confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution (known as Nazi-confiscated art), the international “Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art” of 1998 and the German “Joint declaration of the Federal Government, the federal states and the local authority associations on finding and returning Nazi-confiscated cultural assets, in particular those formerly in Jewish possession” of 1999 stipulate that “fair and just solutions” should be found between the involved parties in order to bring closure to open questions and disagreements.
2. Finding a fair and just solution
In light of this requirement, in practice the question often arises of what form a fair and just solution might take.
First the aspects of the case in question must be considered. For example, the object under discussion may have been preserved, maintained or publicly exhibited over a long period of time by a cultural heritage institution.
Once the circumstances have been established, the next question is which type of fair and just solution would be appropriate in the specific case. There exists a broad range of “fair and just” solutions in addition to restitution. The object under discussion could, for example, be returned and then bought back by the previous owner or possessor in order to e.g. continue to store and publicly present it within a collection. Alternatively, the object under discussion could be restituted subject to specific agreements (for example that it be made available for a particular exhibition). Another option is that the cultural asset remains with the current possessor or present owner and the rightful owner receives compensation for it. Furthermore, the parties might consider concluding a loan agreement—particularly for a longer period of time—regarding the restituted item. A further possibility is that the object remains with the present owner subject to a requirement to explain/transparently present its provenance, particularly the injustice of its confiscation and the fate of its former owner. Depending on the specific circumstances of the respective case, other compromises beyond the aforementioned models may also constitute a “fair and just solution”.
A number of different sources can help the involved parties find a fair and just solution. Of note is for example the publication series by the former Magdeburg Coordination Office, which lists a wide range of practical case studies outlining fair and just solutions implemented in the past. The database “Provenienzdokumentation” of the Federal Office of Administration moreover contains decisions on individual restitution requests relating to artworks belonging to the Federal Government. Further references to case studies, publications etc. can be requested from the Lost Art Foundation or are made available by the Foundation in an appropriate manner.
Example of a fair and just solution:
2018: Painting "Eisgang" by Max Beckmann restituted and and bought back by the Städel Museum from the heirs of Fritz Neuberger:
2017: Federal Government enables purchase of a painting by E. L. Kirchner—Grütters: Positive example of a fair and just solution in accordance with the Washington PrinciplesPressemitteilung der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien vom 31.03.2017 (PDF, 154 KB)
2016: Painting “Italienische Familie” (1837) by Wilhelm Krafft returned by a Düsseldorf auction house to the heirs of Max Stern:
show article: Düsseldorfer Auktionshaus returns paintings by Wilhelm Krafft to the heirs of Max Stern …
2016: Oil painting “Blumenstrauß” by Narcisse Virgilio Díaz de la Peña returned by the city of Cologne to the heirs of Felicia Lachmann-Mosse and of Walter Westfeld:
2016: Drawing „Felsige Waldlandschaft mit weitem Ausblick“ (around 1610/15) by Isaak Major restituted and bought back by Kunsthalle Bremen from the heirs of Dr. Arthur Feldman:
show article: Kunsthalle Bremen returns drawing from the collection of Arthur Feldmann, and subsequently repurchases it …
2013: 2000 volumes (almanac collection) returned and then purchased by Klassik Stiftung Weimar from the heirs of Arthur Goldschmidt:
show article: Klassik Stiftung restituiert Almanach-Sammlung …
2013: Compensation for the painting „Makabre Szene – Dachgarten der Irrsinnigen“ (Joachim Ringelnatz) paid by Clemens-Sels-Museum Neuss to the heirs of Paul Westheim:Empfehlung der Beratenden Kommission in der Sache Westheim ./. Neuss (PDF, 8 KB)
2012: Painting „Blumenstrauß in einer Tonvase“ (workshop of Jan Breughel the Elder) returned by Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen to the heirs of Julius Kien:
show article: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen restituieren ein Blumenstillleben aus der Werkstatt Jan Brueghels d. Ä. …
2012: Painting “Waldlichtung mit kleinem Weiher” (Carl Blechen) returned by Fürst-Pückler-Museum of the city of Cottbus to the Sommerguth heirs:
show article: Restitution von Carl Blechens Gemälde "Waldlichtung mit kleinem Weiher und liegendem Hirten" …
2012: Compensation for the painting “Leuchtturm mit rotierenden Strahlen” (P.A. Seehaus) paid by Kunstmuseum Bonn to the Flechtheim heirs:
show article: Einigung zwischen den Erben von Alfred Flechtheim und dem Kunstmuseum Bonn Paul Adolf Seehaus, Leuchtturm mit rotierenden Strahlen …
2012: Two watercolors (Lehmbruck) returned to the heirs of Paul Westheim and then repurchased by the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz:Pressemitteilung SPK vom 27.01.2012 (PDF, 41 KB)
2011: Painting “Bildnis einer jungen Damen” (C. V. von Vogelstein) returned by Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden to the Commission for Looted Art in Europe:
show article: Galerie Neue Meister der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden übergibt als Raubkunst identifiziertes Gemälde an die Nachfahren der früheren Eigentümerinnen …
2011: 70 books returned by Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin to the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung:
show article: Restitution von NS-verfolgungsbedingt entzogenem Kulturgut an die Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in der Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin (ZLB) …
2008: Compensation for the painting “Portrait der Familie von Dithfurth” (J.J.A. von der Embde) paid by the state of Hesse to the Baumann heirs:Empfehlung der Beratenden Kommission in der Sache Baumann ./. Hessen (PDF, 40 KB)
2001: Tora shield returned by Jüdisches Museum Fürth to the Dottheim Brooks heirs, who subsequently made it available to the museum on permanent loan:Beitrag Purin in Koordinierungsstelle, Band 1, S. 106ff (PDF, 168 KB)
2001: Cäsar Hirsch Library returned by Tübingen University Library to rightful owners:Beitrag Reifenberg in Koordinierungsstelle, Band 1, S. 232ff (PDF, 522 KB)
2001: Six books returned by Marburg University Library to the heirs of Max Wolf:Beitrag Berger in Koordinierungsstelle, Band 1, S. 294ff (PDF, 40 KB)
since 1993: Approx. 140 books returned by Bremen State and University Library to previous owners:Beitrag Babendreier in Koordinierungsstelle, Band 1, S.38ff (PDF, 303 KB)
DZK_fair-just-solutions.mp4 (MP4, 158MB)
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