Nazi-looted art to be given to the Jewish community if owners can't be found
Art stolen from Dutch Jews during the Second World War will be returned to the Jewish community unless their original owners and descendants can be determined, the government announced. Jewish art and other property were commonly looted by the Nazis.
"Jews were forced to sell their art under often appalling conditions. The moral imperative is to do justice to that. The pieces we cannot return and for which we can no longer find relatives of the rightful owners will be returned to the Jewish community," Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven told Nieuwsuur.
In order to find the original owners, the Cultural Heritage Agency is going to reexamine more than 3,700 art pieces that were returned to the Netherlands by the Allied Forces after the war. It concerns paintings, drawings, furniture, crockery and carpets, among other things.
"We as a government were too passive about it. We want an active government that informs people and actively investigates," Van Engelshoven said.
Jewish organization Centraal Joods Overleg (CJO) called the Cabinet’s decision a breakthrough. "We are very happy with that because this is the only fair decision. These were stolen from the Jewish community and they should be able to get them back," CJO representative Ronny Naftaniel said.
Many of the government's previous attempts to identify original owners were unsuccessful. The owners of hundreds, possibly even a thousand art pieces are no longer traceable, CJO estimated.