A searchable database of more than 20,000 Nazi-looted art objects has gone online.
At least half of the objects, searchable by item, artist and owner, have not been restituted to their original owners, according to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
The database is a project of the Claims Conference with technical support provided by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. It reveals the fate of each of more than 20,000 art objects taken from more than 200 private Jewish collections in German-occupied France and Belgium between 1940 and 1944. The database includes photos of the artwork being processed and stored.
The Third Reich engaged in a systematic campaign to plunder the cultural property of Europe’s Jews through theft, confiscation and forced sales.
“It is now the responsibility of museums, art dealers and auction houses to check their holdings against these records to determine whether they might be in possession of art stolen from Holocaust victims,” Claims Conference Chairman Julius Berman said in a news release issued Monday. “Organizing Nazi art-looting records is an important step in righting a historical wrong. It is not too late to restore art that should have been passed down within Jewish families instead of decorating Nazi homes or stored at Nazi sites.”
The records and historical data in the database had been dispersed among three major repositories: the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States, the Federal Archives of Germany, and the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of France.