Special Reports

Legal Issues


This is the fourth part of a series of articles on the history of the international law on restitution.

The Napoleonic Wars and their aftermath marking so strongly the beginning of 19th century were extremely important also from the point of view of the far reaching development of international law. Their influence on the law was at least twofold. On the wider and longer perspective they laid down foundations for the entirely new doctrines of the national cultural heritage and of the common heritage of mankind, which will be, in fact, fully recognized and adopted only one and a half century later. The more direct impact on the law was the final formulation, in the second half of the century, of the first legally binding statutes encompassing proposals connected with the protection of cultural property during armed conflicts suggested by writers so long ago.

How it came to the birth of the common heritage doctrine? Of course, the background for the formulation of this concept was much deeper than just the need to solve a current legal problem. To understand the uncompromising attitude of the Allies towards the issue of restitution after Napoleon's defeat, and the unusual social response it caused we have to turn back some decades and analyze the processes that occurred at the last years of the previous century. It was the end of the era of Enlightenment marked with the fall of the Bourbons. Revolution made the nation a sovereign and that fact, however complicated and shocking it could be, and certainly at once not fully understood, had to change the mentality of Europeans. It brought in result the rise of national consciousness sometimes even to the extent of nationalism. This time, the time of the formulation of the modern nations was also characterized by the development of a link between the newly isolated national groups and cultural goods belonging to them. These goods were necessary for each nation as they contributed substantially to the definition of its identity. They created a new category, a national cultural heritage - a testimony of historical tradition that gives the nation its "historical legitimation".

In the light of this changes we can more easily understand why the return of the works of art to the places from which they were removed by the French had all the attributes of a triumph. It explains the enthusiasm of the crowds of people with flowers greeting returned paintings at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, and gun salutes, pealing bells and illuminated streets to welcome works of art in Dusseldorf. In another more poetical way these feelings were earlier expressed by 39 artists living in Rome, in their famous letter emphasizing the necessity of leaving ""orks of every school under the sky that witnessed their birth, and in the environment for which they were created by their authors""

Taking all these events into account, Charles de Visscher assumed that the restitution ordered by the Allied Powers in 1815 was based "on the very general principle of the integrity of the artistic heritage of conquered nations". This observation rightly indicates, that, at least at the beginning of the 19th century, the necessity of restitution was not longer justified by the nature of the object to be returned, as it had been in the case of "res sacrae", or by the fact that the prize was recognized as "praeda illicita", because of the circumstances of its seizure. The described facts paved the way for the development of a new basis for the restitution which was to be more developed in the following century.

It is, however, not yet the end of the whole story. The extremely turbulent history of the beginning of the 19th century gave ground for the delivery of an even further reaching idea. In the decision of the Halifax Vice Admiralty Court ordering in 1813 the return of certain works of art captured by the British ship to the original owner in the United States we find something more than the effort to protect a national heritage. The Court held that "the arts and sciences are admitted amongst all civilized nations to form an exception to the severe rights of war, and to be entitled to favor and protection. They are considered not as the peculium of this or that nation, but as the property of mankind at large, and as belonging to the common interest of the whole species; and that the large restitution of such property to the claimants would be in conformity with the law of nations, as practiced by all civilized countries".

A similar spirit we can also find in another document of the epoch. Commenting the bombardment of Washington, Sir J. Mackintosh told two years later in the House of Commons: "It was an attack, not against the strength or resources of a state, but against the national honor and public affections of a people. After 25 years of the fiercest warfare, in which every great capital of the European continent had been spared (), it was reserved for England to violate all that decent courtesy towards the seats of national dignity, which, in the midst of enmity, manifest the respect of nations for each other, by an expedition deliberately and principally directed against palaces of government, halls of legislation, tribunals of justice, repositories of the muniments of property, and of the records of history - objects among civilized nations exempted from the ravages of war, and secured, because they contribute nothing to the means of hostility, but are consecrated to purposes of peace, and minister to the common and perpetual interest of all human society".

There is not enough evidence at our hand now to make fully clear what was the original background for these statements. Was it something going beyond the incidental sign of cosmopolitanism? All what we can be sure of now is that the authors of these opinions certainly can be placed among the fathers of the concept of the common heritage of mankind developed to the extent of international legal standard one and a half century later.

Despite that more theoretical achievements, described events and atmosphere created by them influenced also directly the evolution of law. It was still yet the 19th century which witnessed the adoption of the first legal acts banning destruction and looting of what is today referred to as cultural property. The socalled Lieber Code of 1863, the Brussels Declaration of 1874 and the Hague Convention of 1899 paved way to modern laws on the protection of cultural heritage in time of war. They are discussed in full detail, as well as further documents including the complex Allied Restitution Law adopted after World War II, in the author's book "Art Treasures and War. A Study on the Restitution of Looted Cultural Property, Pursuant to Public International Law", published earlier this year by the Institute of Art and Law, Leicester UK.

Wojciech Kowalski,
Department of Intellectual and Cultural Property Law,
Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Silesia, Katowice


The drafting and discussion of the Russian federal law "Cultural Property Displaced to the USSR as a Result of the Second World War and Currently Located on the Territory of the Russian Federation" took over three years to elaborate and discuss. It was the product of a complex political and diplomatic game which has now reached its culmination.

The drafting and discussion of the Russian federal law "Cultural Property Displaced to the USSR as a Result of the Second World War and Currently Located on the Territory of the Russian Federation" took over three years to elaborate and discuss. It was the product of a complex political and diplomatic game which has now reached its culmination.

On April 6, the Constitutional Court placed president Yeltsin under obligation to sign the bill on removed cultural values. On April 15, 1998 at 25 minutes past four o'clock in the afternoon the president signed the bill, so that it is now obligatory. But nevertheless Yeltsin and his team go on persisting that this legislative act harms international obligations of Russia and contradicts to standards of international law. The president consulted the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, where the question has arisen, whether the acknowledgment of the law is against the constitution. It is difficult now to give a sufficient prognosis of further events. But for now this is the most scandalous event in contemporary Russian history and history of international affairs, since this law has become a fait accompli.

Over half a century after the end of the war Russia is persistently trying to establish a legal basis for its unilateral proclamation that the millions of unique art treasures removed by Soviet troops as spoils of war - books, manuscripts, archival documents, artworks, antiques and relics - are Russian property (Art. 6 of the Russian law). Above all, this cultural property was not only state property of Germany and its allies, or the private property of individuals in those countries, but also the cultural property of countries they occupied (i.e. essentially the allies of the USSR and the victims of aggression). The exact quantity of this cultural property remains unknown to this day. For more than 50 years since the end of the war these priceless treasures have been kept in the strictest of secrecy in special repositories in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhnyi Novgorod (Gorki) and other Russian cities.

The publication of information on this issue in the late 80s and the revival of international efforts towards returning cultural property displaced during the war startled Russian parliamentarians into taking hasty unilateral steps, openly flouting international public opinion and infringing on a whole range of international conventions, declarations, agreements and treaties to which Russia, as one of the legal successors of the former Soviet Union, is a party. It is typical that even the Legal Department of the Russian State Duma took the view that the initial drafts of the law amounted to the "confiscation" of the property of others and warned of the danger of retaliatory action being taken by a number of countries. Unfortunately the spirit of the law has not been changed, despite substantial alterations to its overall structure and the wording of individual articles.

The fulfillment of the promises made to the German leadership by Gorbachev and Yeltsin in the name of the USSR and Russia in return for Germany's financial assistance and support for democratic reforms is significantly complicated by the conditions and the time-frame for the acts of restitution stipulated by the law. The return of military archives to France and the "Koenigs Collection" to the Netherlands are open questions. The hopes for the restitution of national relics to Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Poland and a range of other countries also appear most uncertain.

The Russian law directly touches the national interests of the Ukraine, particularly in terms of the cultural property evacuated from the Ukraine to Russian territory during the war and not returned since, but also Ukrainian cultural property transferred to the USSR in the scope of postwar restitution and now kept in Russia.

The evacuation of the inventory of Ukrainian museums, archives and libraries to the Eastern parts of the USSR took place under complicated wartime conditions in a state of haste and confusion. Some transports were attacked by German planes whereupon the transported cultural values vanished without a trace. The traces of the other cultural values were lost for reasons unknown. In this manner unique art collections from museums of Charkov, Nikopol and Kerc got lost on Russian territory. Items made out of precious metal and stone were also transported by special detachments of the NKVD ("Nacional'nyj Komitet Vnutrennich Del", later renamed into KGB), who did not leave any documents. The fate of many of these cultural values is yet unknown: for instance parts from the collections that were evacuated from the historical museums of Dnepropetrovsk and Chernigovsk. It is from these very museums that artefacts were brought to different places by various squads. As a result the Ukrainian cultural values appeared to be scattered over the vast territory of the Ural, Siberia and Central Asia (Kazachstan and Uzbekistan). Because of conditions of insufficient control by the ones in charge Ukrainian cultural values got lost, were stolen or embezzled at their places of storage during the evacuation. In particular certain documents give evidence to confiscation or theft of exhibits from Ukrainian museums in Tjumen, Ufa, Novosibirsk (Russia), Aktjubinsk and Celkar (Kazachstan). There were also cases where pieces from evacuated collections were exhibited in local museums in Russia, which were eventually not returned to the Ukraine. For instance we are talking about the 20 pictures of ancient weapons from the collections of the local museum of Poltava, which were exhibited during the evacuation in the Baskirskij museum in Ufa. These 20 pictures are still kept in the museum in Ufa.

In regard to this it is plain to see that the problem of finding and returning of cultural values evacuated to Eastern parts of the USSR exists and demands a solution. This is to be acknowledged by the Russian side too.

The search for Soviet cultural property in Germany was conducted by special detachments of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD). In 1945 an independent search force of the Ukrainian Academy of Science was also involved in this task. As of 1946, however, the Ukrainian specialists were removed from these tasks. Cultural property was first sent to Moscow and Leningrad for sorting and allocation, or the recipients were determined directly in Germany. When a large quantity of cultural property belonging to Ukrainian museums was found in the American zone in Bavaria in 1946 (over 1,800 boxes and parcels, found in particular in Hochstadt palace), the Ukrainian government dispatched a representative to Germany, V. Bogusevich. But the restitution section of the Supply and Reparations Authority of the SMAD refused him entry to Munich where the Collecting Point for lost cultural property was located. For a long time the Ukrainian government received no information whatsoever and was later compelled to content itself with the objects which arrived in the Ukraine from Moscow or Leningrad.

This arrangement was plainly discriminatory. According to Western researchers' figures, all in all over half a million units of cultural property were transferred to the Soviet Union. To be exact, it was 534,120 objects, 167,117 of which originated from Kiev. Other figures suggest that a minimum of 350,000 of the objects handed back to the Soviet Union belonged to the Ukraine. Evidently a significant proportion of the cultural property returned to the USSR was not returned to its rightful owners in the Ukraine but ended up in repositories in Russia. For example, in the 60s and 70s Ukrainian specialists stumbled upon a number of significant art treasures in the depots of Russian museums in Moscow, Novgorod and Perm: the 17th-century icons "St. George" and "The Espiers of the Land of Canaan", the paintings "Lazzaroni" by Jan Mille (16th century), "The Shore at Scheveningen" by Cornelius Belt (17th century), and a landscape study by an unknown Russian master. These were subsequently returned to Kiev. About 20 paintings were returned from the Hermitage to Alupka. The painting "Portrait of a Young Woman" (19th century) by A. Zhodyeyko was returned to Kharkov. It is a fact that the early 16th-century icon of the Mother of God from the Church ofllya (Elijah) in Chernigov was returned to the USSR from Dresden in 1950 and is now located in the repositories of the Tretyakov Gallery. At least 30 (in reference to other figures it could be 20) 12th-century mosaics and frescos from the Gold-Dome Mikhailovsky Cathedral in Kiev, evidently removed and taken to Germany in 1943 and returned to the USSR after the war, ended up in Russian museums in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novgorod. (The fact of the removal of the artworks from the cathedral is confirmed by German documents.) They are still kept in Novgorod in closed collections.

It should be remembered that the first versions of the law stipulated that these states would have a 12-month period, later extended to 18 months, within which to submit their claims for the return of cultural property and provide evidence of it being their "national cultural property", as long as they had not received compensation from Germany for its loss. Furthermore, it was absolutely unrealistic for the Ukraine to furnish detailed, well-founded claims within this time-frame; not one Ukrainian expert had ever had access to the special Russian stocks. The coordination of the solution of the problem concerning missing or existing compensation for Ukrainian losses through Germany had obviously a twofold aim. On the one hand the existence of German cultural values on Ukrainian territory is of importance, since it might work as a kind of compensation itself. Either the Ukraine would loose the right to claim losses back from Russia or it would have to deliver all German cultural values to Russia in order to maintain its right. On the other hand artificial obstacles at negotiations between Germany and the Ukraine were put up, because the achievement of a compromise during them could have meant the threat of the return of Ukrainian cultural values situated on Russian territory. This is how the Russian side established the basis to have the sole right to represent all former republics of the USSR (today Independent States) in bilateral talks with Germany and other interested countries.

After the publication of critical articles in the Ukrainian press and the delivery of critical papers at academic symposiums, Russian officials were at pains to point out that the law took account of the interests of the Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. These states were to be returned their cultural national property currently located in Russia. A corresponding article was included in the text of the law (Art. 7), which is undoubtedly an important step. As a positive development it can be estimated that in the latest version of the law there is a temporal delimitation to assert the claims on behalf of the former Soviet republics and that there is no question of compensation through Germany. In this way the Ukraine received a real opportunity to get its cultural values back, that were lost during the war.

However, the Russian law provides insufficient detail on the mechanism for fulfilling these promises. The definition of "national values" is currently formulated in such a way that it could easily be narrowed to ethnic Ukrainian artefacts alone, leaving aside the large quantity of other historical and cultural treasures lost by Ukrainian museums, libraries and archives in the war years. This law is not acceptable for the Ukrainian side since it deals with "national cultural values" that were situated within the territory of the former republics of the Soviet Union until February 1, 1950. In the text of the law the argumentation of reasons for the choice of this date is missing. But the hidden intention is obvious: by doing so the Ukraine looses the right for cultural values from the Crimea to be returned, because the Crimea was "reunited" with the Ukraine in 1954. However, the issue of obtaining complete and reliable information remains a problem. Without ongoing and extensive work in the Russian stocks it will be very difficult for the Ukraine to assert its rights. It would be logical and fair to form a joint commission to search for Ukrainian cultural property. However, the law states that all expenses for examination, preservation, restoration and transportation are to be borne by the party putting forward the claim (Art. 18, item 4). This means that the moral and material damage inflicted on the Ukraine in the years of the war through the enormous loss of cultural property, and the loss of many of the records which would allow the precise losses to be established, is compounded by the expense of compensating Russia -essentially for illegally and secretly withholding it in its repositories for around 50 years and not undertaking any steps to return it to its true owners.

Russia justifies appropriation of the property removed as war booty with the necessity of compensation for the losses inflicted on the Soviet Union in the war years. This argumentation is however absolutely not convincing.

Experts are well aware of the fact that files of losses that were caused by cultural institutions of the Soviet Union in the course of military actions and occupations, were put together in a hasty manner and were the result of objective reasons (missing documents and inventory; knowledge of evacuated items a.s.o.). In many cases documents and files had a very rough and approximate character. Quite often given figures of lost items did not accord with their description on the inventory lists. Many museums, archives, and libraries then could not define their losses at all. In this regard the mass transportation of German cultural values to the territory of the USSR had nothing in common with the plan of the Allies of a quadripartite procedure of restitution, which focused on compensation of yet open losses in relation to concrete items for the amount of identical German items (i.e. an item for an item). Thus it is important to say that until the fall of the USSR a complete and precise list of lost cultural values has not been established in this manner. This kind of work in the former republics and today's Independent States has only begun in the last decade. Even the procedure of expropriation of German cultural values did not resemble the legally safe process of compensational restitution. They were taken to the USSR on a big scale without any registering of the actual losses in files. The number of removed cultural values from Germany clearly exceeded for instance the total losses of Russian museums and other institutions. At this point it should be mentioned that a list exists in Russian archives that was put together by Soviet experts at the end of 1943/ 44 in which all pieces of art from the collections of German museums are registered that were to be taken to the USSR after the German surrender. This list was established until the Red Army reached German territory and contained on the whole 2000 items. That is why it seems so paradox to account for "compensations" today when they were put together half a century ago without sufficient knowledge of the actual numbers of removed cultural values from Germany.

Typical for the Russian position in negotiations with Germany and other countries is that Russia endeavors to use general numbers for all former republics of the USSR, if we are talking about losses of cultural values and their compensation. But claiming to speak in the name of all republics of the former USSR in matters of compensation, Russia's law demonstratively ignores the right of the other states to co-determine the fate of the stocks of art treasures stolen as war booty.

According to official figures more than 427 museums on the territory of the USSR were looted during the war, of which 171 museums, i.e. 40 % of the total, were on the territory of the Russian Federation within its borders at that time (including the Crimea). In the Ukraine (without the Crimea) 151 museums were affected, although specialists also quote a figure of 174. It follows that, within current territorial boundaries, the magnitude of Ukrainian and Russian losses in terms of looted museums is approximately equal. And in terms of the quantity and value of the displaced items the Ukraine's losses are at least twice those of Russia's. According to estimates made in the first years after the war, around 300,000 exhibits (or 53 % of the total) were taken from just 21 Ukrainian museums (including individual museums in the Crimea) which comprised 28 % of the most significant museums of the USSR. This list of museums included only 15 museums of the RSFSR (14.6 % of the total), which lost around 160,000 exhibits (28.3 % of the total losses). But for some reason practically all the significant cultural property displaced to the USSR as "compensation" ended up in Russia. Actual museums, other cultural institutions of the Ukraine and private people, who had to suffer the actual losses of the war and in whose name the transportations of German cultural values to "compensate" lost and removed artefacts were undertaken, never really received anything.

It should also be recalled that in the postwar years there were no criteria or mechanisms for the affected institutions and private individuals (e.g. in the Ukraine) to seek redress for their lost cultural property from Germany and the other responsible parties. In this context Russia's competence to now lay down the terms of "compensatory restitution" is highly questionable. Although the law has been passed, it will never be implemented. For example, what relationship does the "Koenigs Collection" bear to Russian losses when the crimes of Dutch Nazis and the theft of cultural property took place on the territory of the Ukraine and Poland ("the Pieter Menten Affair")? With Hungarian cultural property moved to Russia the problem is the same - the Hungarian army operated largely in the Ukraine and it was precisely the Ukraine which suffered losses of cultural property as a result of the activities of Hungarian troops. But the Hungarian cultural property has been hidden away in Nizhnyi Novgorod (Gorki).

So it seems the goal of the displacement of cultural property to the USSR was actually something other than compensation. This fundamentally challenges the moral and legal foundations of the Russian law and raises serious doubts as to its soundness from an ethical and legal point of view.

It is plain to see that the Ukraine and other former Soviet republics which suffered in the war must have a deciding voice in determining the fate of the stocks of art treasures stolen as war booty. These are enormous cultural assets which should be reallocated fairly on the basis of international norms and democratic principles. Perhaps this problem needs to be discussed in the framework of preparations for and ratification of the general Russian-Ukrainian agreements on the division of property, debts and assets of the former USSR.

Russia's position appears particularly odious when seen in the context of the general tendency towards a compromise-oriented approach to the question of the return of cultural property, which has developed in international relations. There are a considerable number of positive examples of fruitful cooperation both in the postwar years and in recent years in particular. The search for mutual understanding in questions of restitution has been fostered by the regular international meetings of the heads of the responsible agencies with the participation of experts from many countries. This process began in the autumn of 1994 in Bremen. We hope that, in conjunction with the realities of life, it will also succeed in returning Russia to the path of constructive cooperation.

Sergei Kot, Ukrainian National Academy of Science, Kiev


Both the Kunstverein Bremen, the parent organization of the Kunsthalle Bremen, a private museum in Germany, and the Azerbaijan State Museum in Baku, claim ownership of at least eight drawings seized by the U.S. Customs Service and currently held by U.S. authorities in New York. The United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York has obtained a series of indictments concerning the trafficking in twelve of the seized drawings, estimated to be worth more than $10 million
1, and has seized additional drawings. At least eight of the twelve that are the subject of the current indictments, and possibly some of the others, are believed to have been stolen first from Bremen, at the end of World War II, and later from Baku. The drawings that have not been traced back to Bremen are presently claimed by Baku alone. This criminal case - itself significant because of the value of the art in question and the issues raised - will set the stage for a civil dispute between Bremen and Baku over ownership of the drawings.

The current criminal cases began with the arrest and indictment of Masatsugu Koga, a Japanese national, who was accused of criminal involvement with stolen goods because of his alleged role in possessing and attempting to sell the twelve drawings.2 Koga was charged with violating the National Stolen Property Act3 and for conspiring to violate the act by knowingly possessing stolen property that had crossed a state or United States boundary after being stolen and by offering the property for sale.4 Koga has pleaded guilty and appears to be cooperating in the prosecution of Natavan Aleskerova, an attorney from Azerbaijan, who has more recently been arrested and indicted for alleged receipt, possession, concealment or sale of stolen property as well as criminal conspiracy.5 U.S. Customs will retain the eight disputed drawings, along with others it has seized, until the criminal charges are resolved.

Once the criminal matters are over, the U.S. Attorney's Office can be expected to file a civil interpleader case to allow the court to decide the conflicting claims to ownership of the property. Unless there is a political solution between Germany and Azerbaijan, the two Museums can be expected to litigate their conflicting ownership claims in a civil lawsuit in New York to determine ownership and right to possession of the drawings.

The Drawings and their History

The eight disputed drawings that come from Bremen are attributed to old masters such as Albrecht Durer, Jacob van Ruisdael and Rembrandt, and include the worldfamous "Frauenbad" (Women's Bathhouse) by Albrecht Durer.6 During the Second World War, the Kunsthalle Bremen hid its prints and drawings collections and some paintings at the Karnzow Castle for protection from air raids.7 The area of the castle became the Soviet zone of occupation and, in spite of the Kunsthalle's efforts to preserve its collection, thousands of items were taken away by Soviet soldiers, and others, including these eight drawings.8

It is not entirely clear how a portion of the Bremen losses came to be in Baku. It is reported that 14 works with Bremen stamps were offered to the State Museum in 1946 or 1947.9 Seeing the Bremen stamps, Baku authorities notified the KGB, who confiscated the artwork.10 The drawings were then hidden until 1993, when they were first exhibited.11 Around the time the Kunstverein found out that 14 drawings were in Baku, and requested their return, the drawings disappeared again as part of a reported theft of 287 works.12 Some of the Bremen drawings that were missing from Baku surfaced in New York City in 1995, when a group of the same works were shown to Sotheby's; the auction house, however, waited a day to notify U.S. authorities, so the drawings were gone and the trail cold before U.S. law enforcement could take any action.13

Most recently, at the German Embassy in Tokyo Koga offered twelve drawings allegedly originating from Germany beginning with a price of $12 million, then for a lower price of $6 million.14 Eight of the offered drawings could immediately be identified by the German Embassy in Tokyo on the basis of the catalogue of the works of art from the collection of the Kunsthalle Bremen, lost during the evacuation in the Second World War, as belonging to the Kunstverein in Bremen. The other four drawings have no connection with the Kunsthalle Bremen. Koga, a short time after, offered the same twelve drawings at Bremen to representatives of the Kunstverein. The Kunstverein offered Koga a 'finder's fee' in the amount of 10-15 per cent of the value of the eight drawings from Bremen, but this offer was rejected by Koga. Bremen had notified U.S. law enforcement of the possibility that the drawings were in New York. U.S. Customs then arranged a sting operation, which led to the seizure of the first twelve drawings.15

The Criminal Proceedings

In a prelude to the civil dispute between Bremen and Baku, Natavan Aleskerova filed a motion to dismiss the criminal charges, arguing that the eight Bremen drawings were lawfully seized from Germany. She bases this argument on the proposition that the Allied Control Council and the Soviet Military Administration in Germany authorized seizures of cultural property from Germany.16 (The Kunstverein Bremen disputes any claim that seizure of the drawings was lawfully authorized).

In addition, Thomas Hoving, the former Director of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and New York art dealer Frederick G. Schab have submitted affidavits to the New York court in support of Aleskerova, questioning the attributions of the drawings and stating that they appear to be in poor condition.17 In court papers, Hoving stated that he found the drawings to be "seriously questionable from the standpoint of condition and attribution".18 Based on these affidavits, Aleskerova's counsel has argued that the drawings are fake and cannot support a criminal prosecution.19

The Court has denied Aleskerova's motions to dismiss so, in the absence of some agreement between Ms. Aleskerova and the prosecutors, these issues will be heard again when the case comes to trial, presently scheduled for June 29, 1998.

A Federal Interpleader Action

Once the drawings are no longer needed as evidence in the criminal case, their fate will be in the hands of a federal judge who will decide whether the drawings will return to either Germany or Azerbaijan. In the United States, only the judicial branch of the federal government can decide conflicting claims of ownership and the method used to resolve ownership disputes is an interpleader action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 22 or 28 U.S.C. 1335, 1397, 2361. In this type of action, a party or 'stakeholder' holding property to which there are multiple claimants may ask the court to decide the issue of ownership. If the stakeholder has no interest in the property, the claimants are left to contest amongst themselves the ownership issue.

One of the purposes of interpleader is to protect the stakeholder from liability.20 By asking the court to decide ownership, the stakeholder, such as the federal government in this case, avoids the risk of being the subject of a later suit for returning the property to the wrong claimant. Thus, one of the requirements for an interpleader action is that there are two or more claimants who are 'adverse', i.e., each claims an exclusive right to the property.21 If there are not multiple adverse claimants, the stakeholder is at less risk and is less likely to require the protection of the court.

The Kunstverein is not unfamiliar with the procedure of an interpleader action. In 1995, it recovered three drawings also stolen from the Castle Karnzow at the close of the Second World War. In that case, I represented the Kunstverein in its recovery of the drawings from Yuly Saet, a Russian refugee who offered the three drawings to art dealers in New York. A dealer informed Constance Lowenthal, then Director of the International Foundation for Art Researching New York, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations seized the drawings from Saet in a sting operation. When the government decided not to prosecute Saet, the FBI turned the drawings over to a federal district court in New York to decide ownership. The court, recognizing the facts supporting the Kunstverein's claim of ownership, decided on the Kunsthalle's unopposed motion for summary judgment that the drawings should return to Bremen.


The presently-pending criminal case will not decide ownership of the drawings as between Baku and Bremen. However, once the criminal case is over, that dispute can be expected to be aired, including the raising of the question of whether the taking of the drawings at the end of WW II was opportunistic looting by individuals or official trophy-taking. If found to be the latter, the Court may have to decide the lawfulness of the Soviet taking of private cultural property.

The author is counsel to the Kunstverein Bremen and the Kunsthalle Bremen.

Thomas R. Kline , Lawyer,
Andrews & Kurth L.L.P., Washington D.C.

N o t e s:
1 Benjamin Weiser, $10 Million in Looted Art is Recovered, N.Y. Times, Sept. 10, 1997, at A3.
2 Id.
3 18U.S.C. 2311, etseq. (1970).
4 Section 2314 of Title 18 of the United States Code prohibits the importation of merchandise known to be stolen at the time of import. Id. At 2314. It specifically states that "(w)hoever transports, transmits, or transfers in interstate or foreign commerce any goods, wares, merchandise, securities or money, of the value of $5,000 or more, knowing the same to have been stolen, converted or taken by fraud" shall be in criminal violation of the act. Id. At 2314 (Supp.1997).
5 Jo Ann Lewis, Twice-Stolen Art Takes A Twisted Trail to N.Y., Wash. Post, Oct. 21, 1997. Ms. Aleskerova's husband, Aydyn Ali Ibragimov was also accused of this crime in the same indict-ment, but U.S. authorities have not apprehended him. Under the U.S. legal system, the indictment is merely a formal accusation, and the accused retains the presumption of innocence unless and until proven guilty.
6 Jo Ann Lewis, Duerer, Drawing a Hot Bath, Wash. Post, Oct. 26, 1997, at 09.
7 Constance Lowenthal, U.S. Customs Recovers Old Masters Drawings, I FAR Report, Oct. 1997, at 4.
8 Id.
9 Mamed Mamedov, Did Bul-Bul-Ogly start whistling?, Moskovskii Komsomolets, October 1, 1997.
10 Id.
11 Id.; Jo Ann Lewis, Twice-Stolen Art Takes A Twisted Trail to N.Y., Wash. Post, Oct. 21, 1997.
12 Id.; Mamed Mamedov, Did Bul-Bul-Ogly start whistling?, Moshovskii Komsomolets, October 1, 1997. Minister of Culture of Azerbaijan, Polad Bul-Bul-Ogly reportedly claimed that the stolen works were not authentic. Id.
13 Jo Ann Lewis, Twice-Stolen Art Takes A Twisted Trail to N.Y., Wash. Post, Oct. 21, 1997.
14 Id.
15 Jo Ann Lewis, Duerer, Drawing a Hot Bath, Wash. Post, Oct. 26, 1997, at G9.
16 Reply Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss Indictment dated January 12, 1998 citing Nikolai Nikandrov, The Transfer of the Contents of German Repositories into the Custody of the USSR, in "Spoils of War" 117-20 (Elizabeth Simpson, ed, 1997).
17 Affidavit of Thomas Hoving dated January 14, 1998; Affidavit of Frederick G. Schab dated January 14,1998.
18 Affidavit of Thomas Hoving dated January 14, 1998.
19 Reply Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss Indictment dated January 12, 1998 at 2-5.
20 7 Charles Alan Wright, et al., Federal Practice and Procedure 1704 (2d ed. 1986).
21 28 U.S.C. 1335; 7 Wright, supra, 1705.

Museum Losses


The aeroplane motor collection of which parts are exhibited in Cracow The largest aviation museum in the world was once situated in Berlin, which is largely unknown today. The "Deutsche Luftfahrtsammlung" (German Aviation Collection) was in Alt-Moabit Street near Lehrter Station, housing more than 120 planes, 200 engines, pictures, models, cups and many other things. When Berlin became more and more threatened with bombing raids by the allies, a plan was developed to transfer this museum. Fritz Petereit, who was born in Treptow on the Rega river, an employee at the airport's society was commissioned to plan the transfer. Due to his origins he was convinced that Pomerania was one of the safest areas in the German Reich. Thus, in June and July 1943 the museum was evacuated to a great extent and everything was shifted either by train or trucks to safe places. Petereit remembered in this context transportations to Treptow, where three or four aeroplanes were stored in the pottery Ernst Bordt of Bollenburg and in the storeroom of the Laabs Brothers carpentry in Großen Küte Street. Many aeroplane engines were kept in the dance hall of a restaurant in Darsow, between Gummishof, Levetzow and Dargislaff. Two aeroplanes were removed to Hammer, between Schonlanke and Scharnikau; further aeroplanes were likewise taken out to Schlachau, possibly to the drying places of a brickyard. Several aeroplanes were stored in Ratzebuhr, north of Schneidemühl. Finally, the Quast Guest House of Neuhofen, between Fihiene and Scharnikau, was the storing place of three or four aeroplanes. After 40 years Petereit understandably could not remember further storing places.

View into the large exhibition hall with the aeroplane Dornier DO X in the center

For at the end of the war only 24 aeroplanes of the "Deutsche Luftfahrtsammhmg" were discovered by the Poles, the question arises what has happened to the remaining ca. 100 planes. Surely many were destroyed during fights. Since the museum also housed quite modern airplanes, some of them may have been taken away by the Russian Army. It would be of great importance to know whether the reader can remember anything relating to this matter. Who possibly had noticed in the summer of 1943 something concerning the transportation of aeroplanes? Did anybody notice aeroplanes in the storerooms or dance halls of their villages?

In connection with the museum's further extension and the current negotiations between the Federal Government and the Polish Government concerning the return of cultural objects, it would be of great importance to obtain more information and perhaps to receive some pictures, too.

Holger Steinie, German Museum of Technique, Berlin

Correspondence may be addressed to: Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, Holger Steinie, Head of the Aviation Department, Trebbiner Str. 9, 10963 Berlin.

Library Losses


It is not for the first time that the international newsletter "Spoils of War" covers the subject of the "Catalogue of Trophy Books from the Sarospatak Reformed College's Collection Currently Kept in the Collection of the Nizhny Novgorod State Regional Scientific Library" (NGOUNB). We are happy to inform the reader that the catalogue has been published in an edition of 500 copies. 1 he NGOUNB has received 100 copies out of the mentioned 500 to be distributed, another 100 have been passed on to the Hungarian Cultural Center in Russia, and the remaining copies are at the disposal of the Library for Foreign Literature (VGBIL) - the main compiler of the catalogue.

The fulfillment of the project was possible due to the financial support of the Open Society Institute in Budapest. The descriptions of the old-printed editions of the 15th-18th century - most of which are in either Latin or old Hungarian - were made within a very short period of time. All-in-all, there are 1,300 items of printed editions and seven items of manuscripts.

This collection from the Sarospatak Reformed College, which as a result of World War II was transferred to the Nizhny Novgorod Library, is, obviously, a unique selection of works: we identified many editions only by turning to reference books containing information exclusively about Hungarian printing production. Among the books of the 16th century identified on the basis of the Hungarian National Bibliography there was a number of books of which only a single copy survived. Of course, having a very clear idea of how precious the editions we worked with are, we, the staff of the Scientific and Research Rare Books Department of the VGBIL, tried to do our work very thoroughly, permanently keeping in mind that the catalogue will return to mankind cultural values which for a long time have been considered irrevocably lost.

From the very beginning the bibliographic project was planned to be international. At the first stage of the work on the catalogue we used the list drawn up by our Hungarian colleagues who had visited the Nizhny Novgorod Library prior to our visit to this library, and it was they who attributed part of the trophy books stored in Nizhny Novgorod to the Sarospatak collection. At the final stage of the work we received assistance from the Hungarian bibliographer L. Nad. Unfortunately, we could not take into account all of his remarks to our bibliography, mainly because by the time of his letter's arrival the catalogue already was at the printer. This is why only the most important passages could be corrected.

The catalogue has an extensive reference system as there are: alphabet index, index of places where the edition was published (geographic index), language index. Besides the printed form, there is an electronic version of the catalogue, and any user of the internet can get acquainted with it.

The five months of our work on the catalogue have been intensive, but now that the work is done we are happy to feel involved in the process of Russia's drawing together with the world community as an equal member, which does not try to conceal what is stored in its library's collections because this belongs to everyone. The catalogue of the Hungarian misplaced books is a symbol of the restitution process which is rather slow and difficult but nevertheless moves forward.

Evgenia Korkmazova, Bibliographer, Library for Foreign Literature, Rare Book Collection, Moscow


In order to attract attention to the international restitution program and to propagandize a rich experience of work with captured and rare book collections, the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature (VGBIL) has developed a comprehensive program about how to work with rare and captured book collections, ensuring maximum accessibility of resources by using traditional methods and new technologies. The program is to be implemented in 1998.

The program comprises seven projects:

1. Creation of the internet accessible electronic version of the "Spoils of War" journal on the VGBIL server.
2. Creation of the internet accessible electronic database of the owners' inscriptions of rare and captured books in the VGBIL rare book collections.
3. Creation of a printed version of the Index of Former Owners of Books from the VGBIL rare book collections.
4. Creation of a panel exhibition of materials on book owners based on the VGBIL rare book collections.
5. Creation of an electronic catalogue of the Dutch printed editions of the 16th-17th century from the VGBIL collections and installing it on the VGBIL server.
6. Organization of training seminars for the biggest holders of captured literature in five Russian provincial towns, including traveling panel exhibitions, launching workshops on dealing with rare and captured book collections, delivering lectures on using new technologies for a better accessibility to collections.
7. Creation of an electronic text library of the VGBIL rare books collection.

All parts of the program are due to receive regular coverage on the VGBIL server. For a better implementation of this task the program suggests the installation of a special regularly updated www page.

Project 1: The electronic version of the "Spoils of War" journal

Objective of this project is to work out a Russian electronic version of the journal for introducing it to internet users and, possibly, free of charge distribution of the journal by e-mail.

The Russian language electronic version (translation into Russian of the four printed issues) will be formed by using an electronic model obtained from the publishers and the conversion of this model into HTML format for further development to establish research and reference elements.

Electronic versions of the journal will be established within three months from the start of this project and will be installed on the VGBIL server for free access at http://www.libfl.ras.ru.

Project 2: Creation of the internet accessible electronic database of the owners' inscriptions of rare and captured books in the VGBIL rare book collections

Objectives of this project are: Creation of a card index of rare and displaced book's owners (no less than 300 records); producing software to establish a database providing possibilities of reference by owner signs and standard fields of bibliographic record; translation of card index into electronic form; scanning of 600 images of title pages and owner's inscriptions; coordination of database and images for further reference, using browsers via internet.

An electronic database comprising Dutch, German, Latin, French, Italian and Polish entries will be established within 4 months from the beginning of this project and will be placed on the VGBIL server for free access at http://www.libfl.ras.ru.

Project 3: Creation of a printed version of the index of former owners of books from the VGBIL rare book collections

Objective of this project is the creation of a printed version of the index of former owners on the basis of the index produced in project 2.

Project 4: Creation of a panel exhibition of materials on book owners based on the VGBIL rare book collections

Objective of this project is to create a traveling panel exhibition of rare book owners in order to promote rare and captured book collections of the Library for Foreign Literature.

The traveling exhibition will be used as a separate issue as well as a part of the general restitution program of the Library for Foreign Literature. Three months will be needed to establish this exhibition.

Project 5: Creation of an electronic catalogue of the Dutch printed editions of the 16th-17th century from the VGBIL collections and installing it on the VGBIL server

The VGBIL has a rather significant collection of books printed in the Netherlands between the 16th and 18th century (more than 1500 items). The collection includes not only masterpieces of famous printers (such as Elzevier, P. Mortier etc.), but also quite ordinary editions, some of which are completely unknown to bibliographers in the world. This collection also contains a number of captured editions. The catalogue will be of great interest from both scientific and restitutional standpoints.

An electronic version of this catalogue comprising about 600 titles, including bibliographic descriptions, owners' inscriptions, artists' and engravers' names as well as reproductions of the title pages and some illustrations, will be the first step in a complex program of research in the field of the Netherlands book collections in Russia.

The electronic version of the catalogue is due to be established within 6 months from the start of the project and will be installed on the VGBIL server for free access at http://www.libfl.ras.ru.

Project 6: Organization of training seminars for the biggest holders of captured literature in five Russian provincial towns

Objective of this project is to organize training seminars in five Russian towns (Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Ekaterinburg, Voronezh and Saratov), where the libraries are in possession of rich rare and captured book collections. These seminars will promote the restitution program in four directions:

- delivering lectures on the restitution program and on problems of the accessibility of collections

- conducting workshops on dealing with rare book collections (preservation, cataloguing, promotion of the collections, etc.)

- conducting workshops on using new technologies and the internet in opening and making accessible rare and captured book collections with demonstration of electronic resources, created in the framework of the program

- producing a panel exhibition of rare and captured book collections.

Training seminars will be held every one and a half months starting immediately after the production of the main part of the electronic editions and the panel exhibition. Four specialists from the VGBIL will participate in each seminar.

Project 7: Creation of an electronic text library of the VGBIL rare books collection

In order to establish an electronic full text library of the rare book collection it is necessary to launch a special file server providing storage for plenty of digital texts. The server will be accessible via internet. The server will be filled with the most interesting digitized rare editions of the 16th century from the Netherlands available in the Library for Foreign Literature.

The scanner will be used to digitize the editions, because it provides a high level of preservation of rare books and a high quality of images. An appropriate software will be used for further work with the images.

The actual volume of the fully digitized editions of high historical and bibliographic importance would be 5 books of a total of 1500 pages/ images. Each digital edition will be followed by an article and a bibliographical list of later editions of the text with selected images of title pages and illustrations. Later this library will include the editions of the 17th and 18th century.

The creation of the electronic library will not only ensure the preservation of rare books but will also provide a high accessibility to the collection. Additional bibliographical information will allow to observe the development of each edition. This kind of electronic edition will be unique for the internet. The implementation of this project will take twelve months.

We are glad to announce that the Library for Foreign Literature and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation are working closely together with the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science on the implementation of these projects.

This cooperation is a great example of mutual understanding and effective activities that will, no doubt, make information much more accessible.

Svetlana Gorokhova, Head of the International Relations Department,
Library for Foreign Literature, Moscow

For further information please contact:
Elena Krepkova (French speaking). Deputy Director General, phone: +7 095 915 3621, fax: +7
095 915 3637, e-mail: KREPKOVA@libfl.msk.su,
Svetlana Gorokhova (English speaking). Head of the International Relations Department,
phone/fax: +7 095 915 7200, e-mail: OMS@libfl.msk.su,
both at the Library for Foreign Literature, 109189 Moscow, Nikoloyamskaya Street 1.


This article refers to a contribution by Maciej Matwijow, a librarian at the Ossolinski Foundation in Wroclaw, in "Spoils of War", No. 3, December 1996, pp. 14-15.

In the past 50 years, claims to the Ossolineum in Lviv fluctuated with the political situation in Poland. Lately, President Kuchma's visit to Poland in the spring of 1996 gave rise to many articles implying the Ukrainian President's consent to return the Ossolineum collection to Poland. But before we apply the word 'return' we should be aware that the case of the Ossolineum collection is a very special one. We should remember that: 1) Count Ossolinski in his testament donated his collection to the city of Lviv; 2) since its legal registration in 1827 as a regional library, the Ossolineum was supported by the Galician Sejm (Parliament); 3) all collections that were bought or given as gifts were acquired in situ; 4) at the time of the founding of the V. Stefanyk Library of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in 1940, the collection of the Ossolinski Library constituted 430,000 of the more than one million books, manuscripts, ancient prints, etc. from other Ukrainian libraries, and some 500,000 from such Ukrainian institutions as the Shevchenko Scientific Society and the People's Home; 5) there are no documents from the 1946-47 period assigning the Ossolineum to Poland signed by the Polish side, only a talk about a "present to the Polish people". Today the V. Stefanyk Library with over seven million units is housed in seven buildings throughout the city, one of which - the central administrative building - is occupying the site of the former Ossolineum Library.

Although the collection was at its original location, nevertheless, against legal rules, there were six removals of books, manuscripts, and art collections to Poland. The first action took place on March 18, 1944. Thirty-five trunks of the most valuable literature from the Ossolineum Library (1,255 manuscripts, 2,226 deeds, 1,167 ancient prints) were removed to Kraków together with the Chartoryisky, Pavlykovsky and other collections. The second transport to Krakow is dated October 1, 1944 (969 manuscripts, 381 deeds, 859 ancient prints, 2,371 drawings from the Ossolinski Library and from other Lviv libraries). The shipment also included ancient church prints from the Lviv University Library. Of the 450 incunabulae, only 46 remained in Lviv. Original drawings by the ingenious German artist Albrecht Durer also disappeared at that time. Later they reappeared in the American zone of the occupied

Germany and were sold on the international market. We also know from the letters ofM. Gembarovieh, former head of the Ossolinski Library, that more than 40 trunks of books, also containing a number of Soviet books in the fields of technology, economics, statistics, and military science, were removed at that time.

The third shipment took place under the German occupation. The collection was transported to Aldensbure and then partly destroyed by the Soviet occupational troops. What later has been sent to Moscow and what went to Poland is unknown.

By Stalin's order (July, 1946) the fourth shipment of literature from the academic library took place. All legal transactions were carried out through Moscow. According to Gembarovieh, not only Polish books, but also books from Ukrainian publishing houses were transported to Poland, altogether some 150,000 units (108,000 prints, 7,068 manuscripts, 34,464 ancient prints).

The fifth shipment of literature occurred in December 1946. It contained 67,381 units, including documents and manuscripts. In addition 208 exhibits were taken to Poland from the Picture Gallery, 197 from the Historical Museum, 65 from the Art and Craft Museum (today the Ethnographical Museum at the Ethnological Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine), 272 works of art from the Kyiv museums (e.g. Panorama Ratslavska). The art load weighed more than 124 tons and required 13 railroad wagons.

In 1987, under Gorbachev's order, the sixth transfer from the Lviv Stefanyk Library was carried out. Fifty books were delivered to Jaruselski personally, and 2,400 to the city of Wroclaw.

There are also Ukrainian collections in Poland. The most valuable church manuscripts and ancient prints of the Peremys'ka Kapitula should be mentioned first. After the war they were dispersed throughout several Polish towns. The fate of the "Kholm Kapitula collections" is unknown. Thousands of Ukrainian documents are in the Public Library in Warsaw. Correspondence of outstanding Ukrainian personalities and a number of Ukrainian newspapers are preserved at the Central Military Archives. Large archival collections from Halychyna (birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.) are stored in Krakow. This is only a partial list of Ukrainian documents being preserved in archives and libraries in Poland. There is also a large number of Ukrainian cultural artifacts (icons, paintings, archeological objects, etc.) presently in Polish museums and other collections.

The matter of the return of cultural valuables that were plundered and transferred from country to country due to military occupation during the Second World War is being considered at the highest levels of world organizations. Today, we have favorable conditions for active partnership in science and culture and there are outstanding technical possibilities for cooperation (photocopying, microfilming, network of communications such as internet). Therefore I think that we will gain more in preserving cultural heritage for humanity by establishing good relations than by claims. The Lviv Stefanyk Library is open to everybody. Scientists and scholars from all over the world take advantage of it. The main task of librarians today is to improve the maintenance of library treasures, their restoration and preservation for future generations, and to protect them from irreparable harm.

Larysa Krushelnytska, Director of the Lviv Stefanyk Scientific
Library of The National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Lviv


During the last years the general public has begun to show a special interest in the fate of cultural values displaced during World War II. The Russian government established the State Commission on the Restitution of Cultural Values under the chairmanship of the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation. The Commission includes expert groups on archival, library, and museum collections, which cooperate with similar groups in other countries.

In 1995 the Center on the Problems of the Transferred Book Collections was created at the National Russian Library in St. Petersburg.

The task of the Center is to coordinate the activity of institutes investigating the fate of the Russian library collections which were lost or transferred during World War II: to determine the losses, to detect the ways of the outflow, the search, the preservation of the collections and separate printing works and their return after the war. The Center also deals with the investigation of the fate of not only Russian book collections but also of the collections of other countries somehow affected by the problems of displaced books.

At the moment the Center begins to fulfill its tasks and invites to cooperation all the libraries and organizations ready to help in the creation and the updating of a joint data base, in the formation of the list of book losses and of the availability of the transferred collections.

The Center on the other hand is ready to give information about the books which belonged to your institution and to offer consultations in the field of transferred book collections. Please feel free to contact us if your institution is interested in cooperation with the Center and let us know the name of your contact person in this field.

In October 1998 the Russian National Library, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Russian Library Association plan to hold the 3rd Conference on the history of Russian libraries: "Libraries During World War II: Displaced Collections, Research and Reconstruction Problems".

Regional ethnographers, librarians, professors and teachers, the members of commissions in search of lost cultural property in Russia and abroad have been invited to participate in this conference. All issues related to the intricate fate of the Russian book collections during World War II and right afterwards (transfer of the most valuable collections, book restitution issues, the fate of evacuated collections) will be discussed at the conference.

We would be grateful for any information about book losses, transfers and restitutions of book collections, stamps and inscriptions of lost libraries and any other findings and discoveries of experts. All these facts would be useful to reconstruct the library history of this complicated period.

The organizers of the conference are unfortunately not in a position to cover your travel and accommodation expenses. Would you, please, contact us as soon as possible if you intend to take part in the conference. In order to book a hotel room for you, we need to receive your request before September 1, 1998. We very much hope that you will be able to participate in the conference.

Irina Matveyeva, Head of the Center on the Problems of
the Transferred Book Collections, Russian National Library, St. Petersburg

For further information please contact Irina Metveyeva at the following address:
Center on the Problems of the Transferred Book Collections
Russian National Library
Sadovaya St., 18
St. Peterburg, Russia, 191069
phone and fax: +7-812-1105861
e-mail adress: mb@glas.apc.org


This is the second part of a series of articles by Jonathan Petropoulos, based on his book "Art as Politics in the Third Reich" (Chapel Hill, London 1997, ISBN 0-8078-2240-X). The last part will appear in "Spoils of War" No. 6.

Hermann Göring, declared in 1939 to be Hitler's successor as leader of Germany, had the second largest collection among the Nazi elite. The inventory of art in his possession at war's end extended to over 1,375 paintings, 250 sculptures, 108 tapestries and 175 objects of art. 1In the 1950s, Göring's collection was estimated at DM 680 million.2 He thus had grounds for boasting to his captors at Nuremberg that his was the finest private collection in Europe.3 Most of the works were housed in his favorite residence, Carinhall, though his other properties also contained parts of the collection.4 Like Hitler, the Reichsmarschall had a number of agents employed (under the supervision of the director of the "Kunstsammlung des Reichsmarschalls" Walter Andreas Hofer). The two leaders' agents competed with each other to both purchase and plunder artworks. The emphasis of Göring's collection lay on Renaissance painting, Dutch and Flemish old masters, and the court art of 18th century France, as he granted precedence to Hitler for 19th century art. Highlights of his collection included Cranach the Elder's "Venus and Amor" (one of 19 Cranachs that he owned); Rembrandt's "Portrait of the Artist's Sister" (one of five works by the artist in Carinhall); Watteau's "Pretty Polish Girl" (plundered in Poland); Fragonard's "Young Girl with Chinese Figure" (taken from the Rothschilds by the ERR in France); and Velazquez's "Infanta" (which was purchased in the Netherlands). Göring, it should be noted, had the self-confidence to indulge his own tastes and collect Impressionist art. This proclivity extended to Pierre Bonnard's vibrantly colored "The Work Table", and three of Van Gogh's more conservative works, "Sunflowers", "Bridge at Aries", and a drawing of a landscape.5 In private, the Reichsmarschall did not feel constrained by the official aesthetic guidelines.

Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, the government figure most responsible for supervising the cultural production during the Third Reich, focused his collecting efforts on contemporary art. Initially sympathetic to German Expressionism, he placed Ernst Barlach's sculpture "Man in the Storm" in his office in 1933 (and later moved it to his Schwanenwerder home in 1936) and revealed an interest in patronizing the painter Emil Nolde. Hitler vetoed the idea of supporting Nolde, and Goebbels indeed abandoned his public support for modern art. Yet like a number of the other top leaders, he did not always feel the need to toe the party line privately (even though he had played a key role in articulating this line). As the Barlach sculpture in his residence suggests, or, to take another example, his commissioning of a portrait from the former member of the Berlin Secession Leo von Konig, who painted in an Impressionistic style, Goebbels subscribed to the notion that he was above many, if not all of the rules.6 Yet like many other NS leaders, Goebbels publicly played the role of patron of contemporary Nazi art: he made an annual visit to the "Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung" (Great German Art Exhibition) in Munich in order to purchase artworks, and like his cohorts, he was allowed to make his selections prior to the opening of the exhibition, so as to acquire the better pieces.'7 Goebbels would typically buy 25 to 50 works from the show, using a part of the one million Reichsmarks budgeted by the Propaganda Ministry for artistic patronage.8 He also exploited his other official positions to enhance his collection. One example, which stems from his being the "Gauleiter" (district leader) of Berlin, was his arrangement of a long-term loan of two Rembrandt portraits. The contract Goebbels signed stipulated that the works would hang in his Lanke home, and, for reasons not entirely clear, the Propaganda Minister arranged for RM 100,000 to be transferred to the city administration (it was evidently some kind of deposit).9 During the war, Goebbels employed agents to buy artworks for him who were quite active in Western Europe: for example, a Hans Makart work entitled "Siegfried's Death", Jan van Goyen's "Landscape in the Woods", and Hubert Robert's "Landscape", were all bought in Paris in 1943 and 1944.10 Goebbels also made use of various international contacts; notably, in 1942, he bought Van Dyck's "The Holy Family" for 150,000 Swiss francs from Theodor Fischer, the Lucerne-based dealer who had auctioned off the purged "Entartete Kunst" (Degenerate Art) in 1939.11 As there is no comprehensive inventory of Goebbels collection, it is difficult to ascertain the exact size of his holdings. Considering his financial resources and penchant for luxury (like other members of the Nazi elite he had multiple residences which were lavishly appointed), it is evident that he possessed a significant collection.12

Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Foreign Minister from 1938 to 1945, made careful lists of the artworks that he and his wife owned for insurance purposes. He had married the daughter of Germany's most important wine merchant (Henkell), and artworks graced their Dahlem villa at an early point. In 1932, Annelies Ribbentrop inherited an important work by Fra Angelico, a portrait of the Madonna, which the couple took with them to London when the ambassadorial appointment came through in 1937.13 In attempting to pass himself off as a cosmopolitan aristocrat, Ribbentrop, with the active support of his wife, bought a significant number of French works, including Boucher's "Group of Three Girls"; Gustav Courbet's "Landscape at Ornans" and "Bathing Woman"; André Derain's "Head of a Woman"; and Claude Monet's "Landscape with Railway".14 Ribbentrop, however, was clearly under Hitler's sway, and accordingly he collected 19th-century Austro-Bavarian painting: works by Waldmtiller, Thoma, Defregger, and Makart were in both his home and his Wilhelmstraße office.15 The Ribbentrops' collection was divided into officially sanctioned works (including a number by contemporary Nazi artists) and more modem pieces: for example, paintings by Gustave Moreau and Giorgio de Chirico, were in their Dahlem home.16 Over 110 works are listed in their inventories.

Heinrich Himmler proved less adventurous in his taste, if not in his methods of acquisition. The Reichsführer-SS bought a great deal, making regular visits to the "Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung" in order to purchase artworks.17 He went so far as to engage a specialist to locate artworks and negotiate purchases: SS-Sturm-bannfuhrer Wilhelm Vahrenkamp served as Himmler's personal agent throughout the war.18 Himmler also utilized the police and plundering agencies under his purview to obtain pieces. The confiscation of Jewish-owned artworks began in Austria after the "Anschluß" (annexation of Austria, March 1938) and in the Altreich in the wake of the "Kristallnacht" (crystal night, November 1938): Himmler's forces in the SD ("Sicherheitsdienst", Security Service) and the Gestapo not only carried out these measures, they also oversaw the storage and safeguarding of the confiscated art. By 1941, they had achieved sufficient order in terms of cataloguing the artworks and training a staff to permit the liquidation of the inventory. The Gestapo organized the process, giving Hitler's agents the first choice. Many of the remaining works were sold by an obscure and mysterious agency called the Vugesta (an acronym for "Vermögens-Umzugsgut von der Gestapo" or Property Removed by the Gestapo). The Vugesta employed art historians and dealers to appraise the pieces, and auction houses such as the Dorotheum in Vienna and Adolf Weinmuller in Munich assisted in the sale of those works not destined for museums or Nazi leaders.19 The revenue went to the Reich (or the federal government) by way of the Finance Ministry.

Himmler's personal taste leaned toward German and Dutch works. As mentioned above, he patronized Nazi artists, but he also admired landscapes and genre paintings from the preceding century.20 One document from February 1944 lists 69 works under the heading "Bestandsaufnahme der Ölgemälde des Reichsführers-SS" (Property List of Oil Paintings of the RF-SS), which were almost entirely Dutch landscapes (many of the works are cited as "anonymous", an indication, perhaps, of either their unexceptional quality or the hasty manner in which they were acquired).21 Better-known artists in Himmler's collection include Teniers, Jordaens, and Durer. Himmler also avidly collected "vor- und fruhgeschichtlich" (pre- and early historic) pieces, such as Viking swords and spears with runic inscriptions.22 His research foundation Das Ahnenerbe (translated by the International Military Tribunal as Ancestral Heritage Research Organization), which investigated early Germanic culture and anthropology from the Nazi perspective, helped Himmler to pursue the archaeological objects.23

Baldur von Schirach, the Reich Youth Leader who became the "Reichstatthalter" (Governor) in Vienna, also possessed a noteworthy collection. He bought art from a variety of sources both inside the Reich and abroad. His contacts in the Netherlands, including a friendship with the plunderer Kajetan Muhlmann, proved especially useful, as these sources delivered a number of works, including: Breughel the Younger's "Winter Landscape"; Van Gogh's "Field with Poppies"; and what was believed to be a Vermeer, "Man with a Tall Hat".24 Schirach also purchased art from a number of Austrian galleries, including a Renoir from the Welsh Gallery in Salzburg. Postwar investigators have alleged that he patronized the Vugesta - the Lucas Cranach "Madonna and Child" found in his possession has been cited as one such example.25 It had belonged to a Jewish Austrian family named Gomperz before being seized by the Gestapo. Schirach evidently bought the work from the Vugesta in 1942. In another case Schirach consulted with both Hitler and Posse, ostensibly to ensure that there be no conflict with the Linz program, about personally acquiring a work by Breughel the Younger, "Wolf Attacking Shepherds", which belonged to Ernst Pollak, an Austrian Jew; the piece was placed in the Reichstatthal-ter's official residence on the Hohe Warte overlooking Vienna.26 Despite his immoral methods of collecting, Schirach had progressive views about art by Nazi standards. Utilizing his budget for the "Special Assistance for the Purpose of Advancing Individual Artists", he patronized figures who were on the fringe of acceptance in the Third Reich (opponents even rumored that he was helping Emil Nolde, which appears an unfounded claim).27 In 1943, Schirach expressed this sympathy for more modern artistic styles by way of sponsoring a show entitled "Junge Kunst im Deutschen Reich " (Young Art in the German Reich); this support elicited protests from the conservative camp, most notably from Alfred Rosenberg, and Schirach was sternly rebuked by Hitler, suffering a loss of prestige and power.28 In short, he had failed to respect the public-private dividing line which was central to the regime.

There were many other National Socialist leaders who also possessed substantial collections. The limitations of space, in some cases, incomplete data, prevent a thorough account here of the holdings of the entire NS elite. Yet it is clear that the following individuals actively collected art: Robert Ley, the head of the "Deutsche Arbeitsfront" (German Labor Front); Arthur Seyss-Inquart, who became the Reichskommissar for the occupied Netherlands; Martin Bormann, who headed the party Chancellery and served as Hitler's secretary; Wilhelm Frick, the Minister of the Interior; Hans Frank, the Governor General in Poland; Erich Koch, the Gauleiter of East Prussia (and later Reichskommissar in the East); Joseph Bürckel, also a Gauleiter, who moved from Vienna to the Saarland-Lorraine in 1940; Julius Stretcher, the Gauleiter of Franconia and publisher of "Der Stürmer"; and Albert Speer, the architect and Minister of Armaments.29 This is but a preliminary list of those who amassed collections: pursuing art was clearly a widespread and significant phenomenon.

But why did they collect art? One can surmise a number of reasons, and these can be arranged with regard to their importance. The foremost motivations were ideological ones: art collecting conformed to the political and racial conceptions of the leadership corps. Here, of course, Hitler set the tone and provided the example for his subordinates. Their emulation of Hitler in this respect constituted an instructive manifestation of the "Führerprinzip" (leadership principle): issues or projects which captivated Hitler's attention also interested his subleaders. The pressure to conform to Hitler's conception of a NS leader was both explicit and constant. Goebbels made note of this in many of his diary entries, as for example his remark of June 16, 1938 that "the Fuhrer regrets very much that some of our Gauleiters have so little understanding of art".30 If Hitler had not collected art, it is unlikely that this phenomenon would have spread so widely among his subleaders. In a more subtle manifestation of the Fuhrerprinzip, the transformation of Hitler's personal collection into an official (or national) project helped justify the subleader's practice of blurring the distinction between private and official. Collecting they followed his lead in using ministerial and party funds for acquisitions that were personal in nature.

Art collecting for the Nazi elite was, however, much more than a means of emulating the dictator; it derived further significance by being tied to a number of ideological precepts. The statements of the Nazi propagandists stressed that the Aryan was the creator and bearer of culture. To be Aryan meant to be cultured, so the Nazis styled themselves as men of culture. This ideological and essentialist projection of a cultural being is recognizable in the personae of the members of the Nazi elite: the artist-architect Hitler; the writer-intellectual Goebbels; the patron of the theater and arts as that Goring fancied himself; the mystic-scholar Himmler, who was attuned to cultural as well as to racial origins; the poet and bibliophile Schirach; the recreational Heimat-painter Julius Stretcher; or Heydrich, the accomplished violinist. In short, nearly all the elite had interests in the cultural sphere. Hitler's concern that his men be cultured went so far that he prescribed dosages of "culture" for the party faithful. Albert Speer recounted one instance in his memoirs of how during the obligatory attendance at Wagner's "Die Meistersinger" during the 1933 Nuremberg rally, a number of the lower-ranking leaders failed the cultural litmus test by falling asleep.31 To display such ignorance of culture ran counter to behavior expected from the top Nazi leaders, who, for the most part, played the role of the cultured Aryan in an eager, if yet Undigested, manner by attending exhibitions, operas, and concerts. Before long, they came to view themselves as not only sensitive to the arts, but as capable of determining the nation's cultural policies.

Jonathan Petropoulos, Loyola College, Baltimore (Maryland)

N o t e s:
1 Theodore Rousseau, Consolidated Interrogation Report No. 2: the Göring collection (OSS Report, September 15, 1945), 174.
2 Heinrich Fraenkel and Hermann Mannvell, Hermann Göring (London 1962), 263.
3 Rousseau, Consolidated Interrogation Report No. 2, 174.
4 In addition to Carinhall, Göring had a castle called Veldenstein near Bayreuth, a hunting lodge in Eastern Prussia called Romintern, a Berlin villa in the Leipzigerstraße, a castle at Mautendorf near Salzburg, a chalet near Hitler's Berghof, a model farm named Gollin near Berlin, and Ringen-walde, an 18th-century manse also near Berlin.
5 For more specific discussions of Göring's collection, based on the OSS report penned by Rousseau, see Haase, Kunstraub und Kunstschutz, 86-153, and Kurz, Kunstraub in Europa, 78-90, 158-173, 339-342. See also the documents in the Getty Center for the Humanities, Douglas Cooper papers.
6 Goebbels' portrait is reproduced in Bruno Kroll, Leo von König (Berlin 1941).
7 Photographic albums produced by the museum staff to chronicle Goebbels' purchases are now located in the Library of Congress's Adolf Hitler Collection. See the volumes entitled "GDK 1939 (and 1941)": Lichtbilderalbum liber von Herrn Reichsminister Dr. Goebbels angekaufte Arbeiten.
8 For Goebbels' Mittel zur Förderung Künstlerische Zwecke, see Bundesarchiv Koblenz (BAK, Federal State Archive), R2/4868, Bl. 321-24: a Vermerk of Dr. Hofmann of the RMVP (Reichsministerium fur Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda), Abteilung Bildende Kunst (Art Department), January 8, 1940.
9 BAK, R55/698, Bl. 100: a RMVP Vermerk, November 4, 1941.
10 BAK, R55/423, Bl. 48-50: a list of 48 objects bought from the RMVP, undated. See also R55/667, Bl. 1-46: a list of objects purchased in France by RMVP representatives. The January 30, 1945 receipt for the Makart is noted in R55/1392, Bl. 69.
11 BAK, R55/667, Bl. 30: a memorandum from Dr. RolfHetsch of the RMVP Abteilung Bildende Kunst to Goebbels, April 10, 1942.
12 Goebbels had three sumptuous residences in or near Berlin: Schwanenwerder, Lanke, and his Dienstwohnung (official residence) in the Hermann Göringstraße. In 1942, he bought "a feudal estate", to use Heiber's words, called Mehlsdorf (although he never lived there). Helmut Heiber, Goebbels: A Biography (New York 1972), 228-31 and 310-11.
13 BAK, NL/163, Binder 7, has many documents pertaining to Fra Angelico, which the Ribben-trops technically shared with Annelie's brother. For Ribbentrop's extravagant remodeling of the German embassy in London, and the elaborate security precautions surrounding the Fra Angelico, see Paul Schwarz, This Man Ribbentrop (New York 1943), 204. For a list of the numerous other artworks taken to the London embassy by the Ribbentrops, see BAK, R2/Anhang, Akte 25.
14 The best inventory of the Ribbentrops' collection is BAK, NL/163, Binder 8, which includes numerous photographs. With respect to the Ribbentrops' admiration for French art, they purport-ediy attempted (without success) to engage Andre Derain to execute portraits of family members. See Simon, The Battle for the Louvre, 98.
15 Note that Ribbentrop also had official funds for the purchase of artworks. BAK, R2/1290, for the letter of two Finanzministerium employees discussing the Foreign Minister's budget: Burmeister wrote to Baccarich, July 10, 1943, "es stehen dem Auswärtigen Amt zur Austattung des Hauses des Herrn Reichsaußenminister in der Wilhelmstraße aus Sondermittein mehrere Millionen Reichsmark zum Ankaufvon Gemälden und sonstigen Kunstgegenständen...".
16 Note that a number of these modern works belonging to the Ribbentrops are listed in BAK, R170/1457.
17 For an example of Himmler visiting the GDK in Munich, see BAK, NS19/3165: a note of August 29, 1942 from the Persönlicher Stab des RF-SS to "Erika", which describes Himmler's visit the previous day where he bought approximately 20 pieces.
18 For documents pertaining to the employment of SS-Sturmbannführer Vahrenkamp, see BAK, NS19/3055, as well as Vahrenkamp's Berlin Document Center file.
19 For a discussion of the Vugesta see OMGUS 5/347-3/3. See also the files in the Oberfmanzdi-rektion (Munich) (OFD), Binder IV, Bl. 69, where Posse wrote to Dr. Herbert Seiberi on the "Institut fur Denkmalpflege" (Institute for the Preservation of Historic Monuments) about purchases from the Vugesta. For an example of the cooptation of art historians, the employment of Professor Dr. Otto Reich by the Gestapo to appraise the Gomperz collection in Vienna, is noted in OFD, Binder XA/127: a letter from Zabransky to Reimer, September 18, 1943. The Vugesta in Vienna, which was headed by a Karl Herber, was located at the Bauernmarkt. See the files in the Österreichisches Staatsarchiv (Austrian State Archive): the Verwaltungsarchiv (Administration Archive) file on the Vugesta.
20 For an example of Himmler's support for contemporary artists, see the documentation concerning Himmler's commission to the sculptor Anton Graul to create a statue entitled "Liebende" (Lovers) for the Wewelsburg castle, in BAK, MS 19/3 086, documents from the period July 3, 1944 to March 9, 1945.
21 For the three page list of oil paintings belonging to Himmler (and being stored by the Firma Hees & Rohm, Leipzigerstraße), see BAK, NS 19/36666, February 26, 1944.
22 For examples of Himmler purchasing early Germanic artifacts, see BAK, NS21/Binder 227, where a Prince Juritzky in Paris is negotiating the sale of valuable objects of this nature (letters dated December 15, 1941 and March 23, 1942).
23 Michael Kater, Das Ahnenerbe: Die Forschungs- und Lehrgemeinschaft in der SS (Heidelberg, Ruprecht-Karl Universitat doctoral dissertation, 1966). Das Ahnenerbe undertook 45 research projects, most of them cultural in orientation. See International Military Tribunal, Trial of the Major War Criminals (Nuremberg ITM 1947), vol. XLII, 78-79; and Simon, The Battle of the Louvre, 11.
24 Schirach evidently paid the art dealer Alois Miedl 800,000 florins for the Vermeer, although the work is not listed in the artist's catalogue raisonné. See Jean Vlug, Objects removed to Germany from Holland, Belgium and France during the German Occupation on [sic] the Countries (OSS Report in conjunction with the Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit, December 25, 1945), 103-4. Henriette von Schirach described receiving an early Renaissance painting from Miedl (whom she calls "M") in Holland during the war. Henriette von Schirach, Der Preis der Herrlichkeit (Wiesbaden 1956), 220. For more on Mtihlmann, see Petropoulos, "The History of the Second Rank: the Art Plunderer Kajetan Mühlmann", in Contemporary Austrian Studies IV (1995), 177-221.
25 For information pertaining to the purchase of Renoir, as well as the commerce with the Vugesta, see the Allied Authorities' interrogation of Schirach in OMGUS, 5/347-3/3.
26 See Kurz, Kunstraub in Europa, 62.
27 For Schirach's purchases as Reichstatthalter in Vienna, see the Österreichisches Staatsarchiv, Archiv der Republik, files on Kunstwesen und Ankauf, 1940-1954, 15B-1 (Karton 71). See also Schirach's memoirs, Ich glaube an Hitler (Hamburg 1962), as well as the account of his official for artistic matters in Vienna, Walter Thomas Anderman (real name Walter Thomas), Bis der Vorhang fiel: Berichtet nach Aufzeichnungen aus den Jahren 1940 bis 1945 (Dortmund 1947), 140-46. For claims that Schirach aided Nolde, see the accusation of Robert Scholz (Alfred Rosenberg's artistic adviser) in BAK, NS8/243, Bl. 96-97: an Aktennotiz to Rosenberg, November 16, 1942.
28 For Schirach's patronage of the "Junge Kunst" exhibition, which included the purchase of a number of works, see Osterreichisches Staatsarchiv, Archiv der Republik, Bundesministerium fur Unterricht, 1789-1943, No. U71. The best scholarly discussion of the episode is in Jan Tabor, "Die Gaben der Ostmark", in Hans Seiger, et. at., eds. Im Reich der Kunst: Die Wiener Akademie der Bildenden Kunste und die faschistische Kunstpolitik (Vienna 1990), 293-94. See also Schirach, Ich glaube an Hitler, 228.
29 See Jonathan Petropoulos, Art as Politics in the Third Reich (Chapel Hill 1996).
30 The quotation in the original reads, "Der Führer bedauert sehr, daß einige unserer Gauleiter sowenig Verständnis für die Kunst haben". See Joseph Goebbels, Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels: Sämtliche Fragmente, vol. Ill, 457.
31 Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich (New York 1969), 99.


In April 1998, "Back to Dresden. An Exhibition of Formerly Missing Works of the State Galleries Dresden" opened at the Georgenbau of the Dresden Palace. The exhibition, organized by Uta Neidhardt, focuses on works of art which had been lost in context with World War II events but could return to their former owners over the years.

Jan von Goyen "Winter at the River", 1643. Return in 1974.
Found when the widow of a second hand dealer had the painting restored with the intention to sell it

Rather than to show only artworks returned to the Dresden Picture Gallery as planned in the beginning the scope has been enlarged to comprise six further museums in the end. On display is therefore a wide range of objects belonging to the seven state galleries Collection of Sculptures, Armoury, Department of Prints and Drawings, Museum of Arts and Crafts, Collection of Porcelain, Gallery of Old Masters and Gallery of New Masters: ca. 60 paintings, among them works by Cranach and the Meister of Frankfurt, a large group of Egyptian pieces of the Collection of Sculptures, ca. 70 drawings and several volumes of graphic art of the Department of Prints and Drawings, ca. 50 splendid weapons of the Armoury, four works of the Arts and Crafts Museum and several 18th and 19th century pieces of Meißen porcelain of the Collection of Porcelain. The great variety of what has been lost and regained until today is shown standing as pars pro toto for the still missing.

As varied as the appearance of the exhibits, they all share a common fate: the winding ways of getting lost and being found. As far as one is able to reconstruct nowadays the events which took place at the end of World War II or its aftermath, varying conditions can be linked up to the fate of the diverse art collections of Dresden. The collections were stored in more than 50 different depositories, parts of them had already been transferred to larger depositories such as Castle Pillnitz.

Most of the artworks had not been under control, if only for a short time, and were consequently endangered by a lack of restorers' care or theft, i.e. by local people. First thefts happened around May 9, 1945 during the surrender of the depositories to representatives of the Soviet army. Four paintings stolen could be recovered in the 60s after a press campaign initiated by the former director Hans Ebert. Other thefts by members of the Soviet forces took place during the phase of the Soviet control of the collections. This can be concluded from some of the individual 'return stories' of objects. After the shipments of a large part of the collections to the Soviet Union organized by the 'trophy commissions', the return of the remaining contents of the depositories to Dresden lasted until the end of the 40's. During this period valuables also disappeared. It was in the mid-50's after the return of large quantities of artworks from the Soviet Union to Dresden, when an account of the losses published became actually possible serving as the basis for further research. A special problem which had to be faced by the researchers represented those works which returned from the Soviet Union but ended up by chance in other German collections where their actual provenance remained in the dark. Three monumental Egyptian Lion sculptures, for instance, were situated in the National Gallery Berlin until the mid-60's. In the late 80's "Waldweg uber eine kleine An-hohe" (Forest Path over a Small Hill) by Alexander Keirincx returned which had originally been in the Bavarian State Galleries, then was given to the art gallery Moritzburg in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt.

Meister of Frankfurt Alterpiece, ca. 1500.
Recovery in 1997 from the South German artmarket

So each piece has its own individual story. This is vividly illustrated by a letter addressed to the Picture Gallery Dresden, in which an elderly lady tells how she came in the possession of two missing artworks. Her mother's restaurant had been confiscated becoming the headquarters of Soviet troops. When the occupation ended the Russians 'gave' her two pictures. Not matching her taste, she stored them for years in her linen cupboard and left them to her daughter who intended to hand them back to the legitimate owners. These paintings of Egbert van der Poel and Bernhard Halder are now exhibited as result of a generous gesture.

Up to this day ca. 450 paintings are still missing as part of a total of thousands of objects. On the other hand, a number of missing objects could return during the last decades. The most recent examples, Cornelius van Poelenburgh "Landschaft mit der Ruhe aufder Flucht nach Agypten" (Landscape with Rest on the Flight into Egypt), Johannes van Haensbergen "Felsenlandschaft mit Badenden Frauen" (Rocky Landscape with Bathing Women), Allaert van Everdingen "Kleine Felsenlandschaft" (Small Rocky Landscape), were officially presented on the opening day of the exhibition. They are only mentioned as an exception, no photos could be published on such short notice in the otherwise lavish catalogue.

This exhibition might encourage other institutions to also document their losses and returns in form of an exhibition. The efforts of the museum staff to document, research and finally publish the lost and found works are a success in itself. The idea of presenting the results to the general public takes the initiative one step further. Giving an overview of the so far achieved implicitly also expresses the hope to appeal to those who might still have knowledge of traces and whereabouts or are even in possession of artworks. To see the findings of the search makes Dresden worth a visit for everyone interested in the topic.

Christiane Kienie, Coordination Office of
the Federal States for the Return of Cultural Property, Magdeburg

The author thanks UtaNeidhardt for her advice and friendly support.
For the catalogue see the Bibliography.
The exhibition runs until July 12, 1998 at the Georgenbau of the Dresden Palace.


In official documents and academic writings a group of 12th-century mosaics and frescos from the former Gold-Dome Mikhailovsky Cathedral in Kiev has traditionally been considered to be among the most significant losses of Ukrainian cultural property displaced as a result of the Second World War.

The foundations of the Cathedral were laid in 1108 by the Kievan prince Svyatopolk as the main church of the Monastery of St. Dimitri. Its construction was completed in 1113. It is considered to have been majestic, one of the most outstanding pieces of architecture not only of ancient Kiev, but also of Europe as a whole. Soon the whole monastery complex came to be known as "Gold-Dome Mikhailovsky" after the cathedral. During the 17th and 18th centuries the cathedral was rebuilt in the baroque style, but the underlying construction remained the same. In the middle and the second half of the 19th century ancient mosaics and frescos were discovered in the cathedral, which caused a proper sensation in academic circles; their high level of artistic refinement suggested that their creators were experienced master-craftsmen well acquainted with the techniques and traditions of Byzantine art. Among them was the famous Kievan icon-painter Alimpy Pechersky.

In 1934-1936 this unique monument of ancient art and architecture was pulled down and blown up at the behest of communist leaders of the Ukraine sent from Moscow. Scholars, artists and intellectuals insisted that urgent last-minute work be done to remove the most valuable mosaics and frescos, which were then given over to the museums of Kiev. In the years until the war practically all of them were kept in the Sophia Architectural Heritage Area. A number of the mosaics (the "Eucharist composition") were set into the walls of the Cathedral of Saint Sophia in Kiev, the remaining fragments were committed to the Heritage Area store. According to documents which came to light in 1940-41, the overall quantity of historical material from the Gold-Dome Mikhailovsky Cathedral in storage in complete or fragmentary form amounted to eight mosaics and between 27 and 31 frescos.

When the Second World War began the store of the Sophia Architectural Heritage Area was not evacuated. Kiev was occupied by the Germans. After liberation the Extraordinary Commission to Establish the Damages Caused by the Aggressor (1943-44) mentioned in its files that the occupying authorities had taken away the mosaics and frescos of the Mikhailovsky Cathedral. But the information given was incomplete and inexact - it turned out that a total of 14 frescos and mosaics were removed, of which only three frescos are mentioned: "The Virgin Mary", "The Archangel Gabriel" and "The Prophet Zechariah". These works are now located in Kiev. It thus follows that a part of the cultural treasures removed by the Nazis was returned to the Ukraine. However, the exact circumstances of the removal and later restitution of these ancient Ukrainian frescos and mosaics remain obscure. It is also unclear what became of the larger part of the displaced works, which were considered lost and were included in search lists.

Research conducted in the last few years has allowed the course of events of the war and post-war years to be reconstructed with a good deal of accuracy. Thus it has also been possible to trace the paths of the ancient mosaics and frescos displaced from Kiev.

During the German occupation the Sophia Heritage Area had to close down. But representatives of the German authorities took a particular interest in the content of its store. The custodian, Pavel Yemets, tried to hide the keys to the building where the archives and stocks were kept, but he was arrested by the Gestapo. After several days in their hands he surrendered the keys to representatives of the occupying authorities.1 Several works of art from the Mikhailovsky Cathedral were removed from the Heritage Area and handed over for exhibition purposes to the Museum of the National Institute of Pre-History and Early History ("Museum des Eandesinsti-tutes fur Vor- und Fruhgeschichte") established in Kiev in late 1941/early 1942. These included a fresco of a six-pointed Russian Orthodox cross, and three ornamental frescos.2

Evidently the German specialists carried out their work according to the lists and descriptions in the archives of the Sophia Heritage Area. This can be seen in the documents of the Rosenberg Task Force ("Einsatzstab Reichsleiter A. Rosenberg") on the removal of cultural treasures from Kiev. In particular there is a report by the Ukrainian branch of the Task Force dated December 2, 1943 which includes detailed lists of objects evacuated from the Heritage Area (referred to in German as "Architekturmuseum") and the Local History Museum.3 Along with ancient engravings, maps, drawings, plans, and photographic negatives and positives of architectural monuments, the lists also included artworks, among them one authentic mosaic and 27 frescos from the former Mikhailovsky Cathedral - a total of 28 such works of art. Each was put into a box of its own. The boxes from the Sophia Heritage Area were marked "AM". For the mosaic and almost all of the frescos the lists give the type of artwork, its dimensions, its condition (all "good") and a note as to its, authenticity ("orig."). They were taken from Kiev on October 7, 1943 in two railway wagons - "Munchen 92811" and "Kassel 76248". The special train with the cultural treasures was sent to Krakow where it was planned that they would be thoroughly examined, photographed and re-packed. One of those who accompanied the train was the famous Ukrainian scholar and museologist Petr Kurinnoi. It is possible that this was not the only transport of cultural monuments from the Mikhailovsky Cathedral, but to date no other documents have come to light.

The special train arrived in Krakow on October 18. The objects from Kiev were kept there for several weeks. However, the accompanying Ukrainian specialists were only granted restricted access and limited opportunities to work on the objects. The German documents mention Ratibor (Raciborz) as a possible further destination for the objects. If one considers that a large proportion of the displaced stocks of Ukrainian museums were later stockpiled in the ancient castle in the German town of Hochstadt, it is reasonable to assume that this is where the ancient Ukrainian mosaics and frescos from Kiev were ultimately taken. Eye-witnesses recall that P. Kurennoi and other Ukrainian specialists arrived in Hochstadt from Krakow in early 1944, following deliveries of cultural property of Ukrainian museums.

After the capitulation of Nazi Germany Hochstadt was in the zone of American Military Administration, and the cultural property that was found there was processed at the Munich Collecting Point. In the course of the post-war restitution process the possessions of Ukrainian museums were handed over to the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD), but the card-index of the Munich Collecting Point does not indicate any mosaics or frescos from Kiev. (It should be noted that the form and content of the American documents is so general in nature that it has not been possible to identify any of the objects which have since been returned to Kiev.) It must be emphasized that the Ukrainian specialists who came from Kiev in 1947 to identify objects that had been taken from Ukrainian museums were refused permission to travel to Munich by the SMAD.4 The Ukrainian objects were then collected in Berlin in the "Derutra" storehouses where they were processed by Russian museum experts. It is known that on November 7, 1947 a special-purpose train was dispatched from Berlin for Moscow with 11 wagons containing a total of 2,500 boxes of valuable museum objects. In a separate special train eight further wagons with stocks from Ukrainian museums were sent to Kiev.

This cultural property arrived in Kiev at the end of 1947 and was received and distributed by a special commission headed by A. Viktorov. This work was conducted from January 4 - March 15, 1948. The commission's tiles indicate that there was a mosaic from the Mikhailovsky Cathedral which was "in an advanced state of disintegration".5

Another source which records the return from Germany of cultural monuments from the Mikhailovsky Cathedral are the records of the handing over to the Sophia Heritage Area of frescos which had arrived from Germany. These files, compiled by the special commission mentioned above, are dated June 25, 1949, i.e. over a year after the return of the objects to Kiev. According to these files 10 boxes contained frescos, almost all of which were badly damaged, and three of which contained nothing but fragments. It was established that the boxes contained five depictions of persons (of the eight that had been removed) - "The Prophet Zechariah", "The Virgin Mary", "The Archangel Gabriel", an unknown saint, and the legs and feet of a figure (evidently the lower part of the fresco "The Prophet Samuel"); a representation of a six-pointed Russian Orthodox cross, a symbolic ornament, and four sets of fragments which the commission was unable to identify at the time.6 Since the restoration of these representations in 1950-51 they have been on exhibition and also in storage in the stocks of the Sophia Heritage Area.

Some figures state that the USSR was returned 26 boxes containing objects from the Mikhailovsky Cathedral. To this day it has not been possible to establish the full circumstances of their return.

It is very interesting in this context that a significant number of the mosaics and frescos from the Mikhailovsky Cathedral have appeared in major Russian museums - the Tretyakov Gallery and the Museum of History in Moscow, the Russian Museum and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, and the Architectural Heritage Area Museum in Novgorod. They include the symbolic representational frescos "Saint Nico-las" and "The Martyr Sebastian", a mosaic with the representation of an unknown saint, as well as four fragments of ornamental frescos and no less than eight of ornamental mosaics. This figure may in fact be much larger - in addition to the two fragments seen by the author in the Hermitage (St. Petersburg), nine further fragments which relatively recently arrived from Novgorod have come to light in the Hermitage. It is worthy of note that until recently the majority of these cultural monuments were neither put on exhibition nor mentioned in publications. And information about frescos from the Mikhailovsky Cathedral kept in Novgorod is still being kept secret now, although the author has copies of five photographs of fragments of ornaments, three of which have been positively identified by comparison with published photographs from the pre-war archives of the Sophia Architectural Heritage Area in Kiev.

It is known that after the arrival in Moscow of the special train with Soviet cultural property sent from Berlin in 1947, some of the wagons continued on to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). It has been established that the freight taken to the depot at Pavlovsky included boxes with cultural monuments from the Mikhailovsky monastery. We should note that one of the Soviet experts who carried out the distribution of the stocks of Soviet museums collected at the "Derutra" storehouses in Berlin was the famous Leningrad art historian Anatoly Kuchumov.

Thus a part of the mosaics and frescos from the Mikhailovsky monastery which were returned to the USSR were not handed back to their rightful owner - the Sophia Heritage Area in Kiev - but were dispersed over a number of museums on Russian territory.

On April 17, 1998 in Kiev a public hearing was held on the fate of the missing frescos and mosaics from the Mikhailovsky Cathedral, at which a group of authors (Sergei Kot, Yury Korenyuk, Tatyana Sebta and Ksenia Marinyak) presented documents on the history of the displacement and the current location of valuable relics. The participants in this discussion called for the cultural monuments to be returned from Russia to the Ukraine.

Sergei Kot, Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, Kiev

N o t e s:
1 Central State Archive of the Supreme Organs of Government of the Ukraine ("Tsentralny derzhavny arkhiv vyshykh organiv vlady Ukrainy", CDAVOLJ), F. 4802, Op.l, Spr. 602, List 3.
2 Ibid at F. 3676, Op. 1, Spr. 225, List 274.
3 Ibid at List 271-274.
4 Ibid at F. 4762, Op. 1, Spr. 155, List 55-56, 65; Central State Archive of Voluntary and Civic Organisations ("Tsentralny derzhavny arkhiv gromadskykh ob'iednan") F. 1, Op. 23, Spr. 2818, List 1-2.
5 CDAVOU, F. 4762, Op. 1, Spr. 203, List 88-89.
6 Archive of the State Architectural Heritage Area "Sofiysky Muzey" ("Arkhiv derzhavnogo arkhitekturno-istorichnogo zapovidnyka Sofiysky muzey").


This review of the Russian press draws on the "Restitution File" maintained by O.M. Ivlieva, Chief Bibliographer of the Information Center at the Library for Foreign Literature, Moscow (contact phone: +7-095/915 -3636).

My last review of the Russian press which appeared in the previous issue of "Spoils of War" covered the period up to the visit of the Russian President B.N. Yeltsin to Baden-Baden on April 17, 1997 and his official meeting with the German Chancellor Kohl. With regard to the restitution of cultural property the media focus in the first quarter of 1997 was on the discussion of the Federal Law on Cultural Values Removed to the USSR as a Result of World War II and Located on the Russian Territory. On May, 15 the Federal Assembly followed the State Duma overruling the presidential veto on the law of "trophy values" and voting again for the law to be enacted. It was then expected that President Yeltsin would appeal to the Constitutional Court in respect to the lawfulness of passing the bill because of its inconsistency with articles of the Russian Constitution. The president, however, took an "unexpected decision": he returned the law to the Federal Assembly because he felt there had been a breach of order during its passage, the Upper Chamber having voted by roll call. Thus, by the end of 1997 the law on removed cultural property had not yet been passed.

After April 17, 1997, the debate on restitution issues in the Russian press took a quieter course, with only two splashes occurring during the review period. The first was in connection with the April 1997 summit and the second, in mid-May, was in connection with the Federal Assembly voting to pass the law on removed cultural property over the presidential veto, and the finding in Germany of a fragment of the notorious Amber Room.

The Russian media were unanimous in branding the Kohl-Yeltsin meeting as a failure as far as the restitution issue was concerned. The titles of articles are eloquent enough: "Doubtful triumph in Baden-Baden" (Nezavisimaya Gazeta), "Why did Baden-Baden never turn into another Rapallo?" (Literary Gazette), "Yeltsin and Kohl gambled in Baden-Baden" (Vek), etc. Even a gift from "my friend Boris" (eleven folders from the Walter Rathenau archive) could not wash away the bitter taste of the German disappointment with the lingering uncertainty about the future of cultural property found within the Russian Federation. Only two articles attracted my attention. In the first, entitled "A law that defeats its purpose" (Moscow News No. 15, April 13-20, 1997), Nikolai Afanas'evsky, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, states in no uncertain terms that this law instead of solving the question of ownership of removed cultural property, merely complicates Russia's relations with most European states. The second, "From the scary to the shameful" (Moscow News, No. 16, April 20-27, 1997), is by the late Lev Kopelev (a Russian emigre author) who calls for general humanity and common sense saying justly that "to deprive a whole nation, to deprive the coming generations of treasures of their national art, to take revenge on both forefathers and ancestors, to take revenge on millions of men for crimes that were committed by ten thousand degenerates is unfair, unlawful, and downright inhuman".

In mid-May, as mentioned above, the Russian press was highly vocal again on the issue of "trophy art". Almost every central newspaper contributed to the more than 30 articles on this subject. The discussion seemed to focus on the discovered fragment of the Amber Room, which during the postwar period has become a symbol of all cultural losses of Russia. One of the four colored-stone mosaics that had formed the center-pieces of the amber panels was discovered in Bremen, raising, of course, the question of ownership of the panel and whether it would be returned to Russia. In addition, several papers carried articles giving sensational versions of the whereabouts of the Amber Room itself. One frequently mentioned location is the so-called Fox Mountain in the Czech Republic where, according to one witness, boxes containing the Amber Room had been hidden, the entrance to the cave being blocked up and mined. The immediate task is to identify the precise location of the cave and to clear the mines. Another site is Ordruf in Germany where during the war work a standby capital for Nazi Germany was being built. According to Alexander Nadzharov, the author of an article in the "Ogonyok"-magazine, this repository is well known to many Russian political leaders, including the president and vice-president, but for reasons best known to them the Amber Room has not been unearthed yet. It is all due to Russian bureaucrats being so inactive, feels Alexander Nadzharov.

One article of this review period stands out among the publications that continued to discuss the federal law on removed cultural property. "The people must have their say" (Pravda, May 8, 1997, p. 6) by Oleg Kudryavtsev, DSc (Hist.) makes a case for deciding the fate of the cultural values by a referendum and warns that should we allow a revision of the outcome of the Second World War, if only in regard to the issue of removed cultural property, "next we shall be faced with the territorial question".

During the summer period, despite a general lull in the country's politics the media turned out an occasional article on restitution topics. They included brief notes giving new versions of the whereabouts of the Amber Room, views on the fate of the Federal Law, and information about the "nazi gold" allegedly unearthed in archival papers; a discussion of the Pushkin Museum's title to the Franz Koenigs collection of drawings and the Trojan gold.

The authors are generally repetitive. They include Nikolai Gubenko, former Minister of Culture of the U.S.S.R. and an active supporter of the new federal law, Irina Antonova, director of Moscow's Pushkin Museum, the Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Mikhail Shvydkoy, and the journalists Alexander Nadzharov, Yury Shpakov, Tatyana Fedotkina, Sergey Volkov, and Lev Bezymen-sky.

To sum up, from the media discussion in 1997 it is hard to tell how the problem of removed cultural property will ultimately be resolved. But it is my hope that a sober approach and humanity will prevail because these spiritual values must belong to all.

Evgenia Korkmazova, Library for Foreign Literature, Moscow