Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Germany and Israel Will Cooperate on Nazi Looted Art

Germany and Israel agreed to cooperate on finding the heirs to art that was stolen or looted from Jews during the Nazi era.

German Minister of Culture Monika Grutters and her Israeli counterpart, Limor Livnat, signed an agreement on Sunday in Jerusalem on the terms of their cooperation aimed at correcting decades of injustice, the German news agency dpa reported.

Through the sharing of databases and training of experts, German and Israeli authorities will work together in search of the provenance of works whose fate during the Third Reich remains unclear.

The agreement is an outgrowth of revelations of a controversial collection of more than 1,000 works confiscated from the Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt in 2012. Under pressure from international organizations representing survivors and their heirs, Germany established a task force of experts to research the provenance of hundreds of works, including some by Picasso, Matisse, Beckmann and others. The task force includes German, Israeli and U.S. experts.

Gurlitt died in April at 81, leaving the entire collection to the Art Museum Bern Foundation, Switzerland. It is unclear whether the museum will accept the gift, which includes the duty to continue the provenance research.

Earlier this year, Ronald Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress, decried the slow pace of research and restitution to the heirs of Jewish collectors, many of whom had works stolen or confiscated, or were forced to sell them at low prices before attempting to flee Nazi Germany.

In 1998, 44 countries — including Germany — signed the Washington Declaration committing themselves to seeking long-lost artwork that ended up in museums and other public collections. But the pace has been painfully slow, some say, because museum directors are reluctant to spend money and personnel on research that could lead to the loss of works from their collections.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning journalism this Passover.

In this age of misinformation, our work is needed like never before. We report on the news that matters most to American Jews, driven by truth, not ideology.

At a time when newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall. That means for the first time in our 126-year history, Forward journalism is free to everyone, everywhere. With an ongoing war, rising antisemitism, and a flood of disinformation that may affect the upcoming election, we believe that free and open access to Jewish journalism is imperative.

Readers like you make it all possible. Right now, we’re in the middle of our Passover Pledge Drive and we need 500 people to step up and make a gift to sustain our trustworthy, independent journalism.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Our Goal: 500 gifts during our Passover Pledge Drive!

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.