The AP reports on the debut of a new database built out of Nazi records that will help trace works of art looted during World War 2:
Holocaust survivors and their relatives, as well as art collectors and museums, can go online beginning Monday to search a free historical database of more than 20,000 art objects stolen in Germany-occupied France and Belgium from 1940 to 1944, including paintings by Claude Monet and Marc Chagall.
The database is a joint project of the New York-based Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
The database is unusual because it has been built around Nazi-era records that were digitized and rendered searchable, showing what was seized and from whom, along with data on restitution or repatriation and photographs taken of the seized objects, the groups told The Associated Press.
Bloomberg’s Catherine Hickey points out that a huge portion of the 20,000 objects have not been restituted and the overall estimate of stolen art is 650,000 objects:
About half of the listed art works haven’t yet been returned to the original owners or their heirs, according to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which together with the United States Holocaust Museum is the organizer of the project. As an example, a search on Rembrandt revealed that 10 works still hadn’t been restituted.
The database provides access to the Nazis’ detailed records and photographs of the objects plundered in occupied France by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (E.R.R.), a task force authorized by Adolf Hitler to loot art across Europe. The E.R.R. set up in France soon after the invasion and sorted its booty at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, from where it shipped the best to Germany and sold less highly esteemed works.
“Families robbed of their prized art works can now search this list to help them locate long-lost treasures,” Julius Berman, the chairman of the Claims Conference, said in an e- mailed statement. “Organizing Nazi art-looting records is an important step in righting a historical wrong.”
New Online Resource Debuts for Nazi-Era Looted Art (Associated Press)