Kunstraub in Krieg und Verfolgung
[Art Theft in War and Persecution. The Restitution of Looted and Stolen Art in the Conflict of Laws Provisions and International Law]
In the course of the Second World War, the National Socialist persecution of the Jews in the German Reich and throughout the occupation period, an art theft to an extent previously unknown occurred. The predominantly international law debate concerning the return of the looted art from the Russian Federation and its neighbouring states to Germany is for the most part unsolved to this day. International conferences in London, Washington and Vilnius have formulated recommendations and declarations of intent (soft law) for dealing with this markedly civil law problem with regard to the restitution of cultural assets from Jewish ownership. In the Federal Republic of Germany, officials have made explicit endeavours aimed at the mutual declaration of the federal government, the states and the municipalities from 1999, and also to arrive at fair and equitable solutions within the scope returning cultural assets from public ownership that were removed under the aegis of National Socialism persecution. As a comprehensive compendium, the work applies to all individuals as well as institutions which are still affected today by these problems – in museums, collections, insurance companies, and also on the international art market in galleries and auction houses. It describes in a systematic presentation – in historical as well as juridical terms – the extremely complex subject matter of art theft in the Second World War (so-called “looted art”), in marked contrast to persecution-related dispossession of cultural assents from mostly Jewish provenience. In these frequently sensitive matters concerning the restitution of war-related, expropriated and/or persecution-related, removed cultural assets, questions arising from the realm of (international) private law, the intertemporal law of restitution and indemnification as well as international law are to be answered first and foremost.