You may have read the headlines recently. Just about a month ago, a veritable treasure trove of artwork was discovered in the apartment of an 80-year-old German, who was the son of an art collector who had ties to the Nazi hierarchy during World War II. It is a well-known fact that the Nazis persecuted the Jewish community whenever they had a chance, and besides stripping them of their basic human dignity, they also conveniently relieved them of many of the artworks that they had collected over the previous decades. Art from such famous painters as Picasso, Chagall and Renoir was deemed by the Nazis to be “degenerate,” at the very least contrary to the Aryan ideology that they were trying to instil. As a result, they confiscated thousands of paintings. A large percentage of them had been thought to be lost to history, but lo and behold, almost 60 years after the war was over, a large cache of them has been found again.
It’s Not All About Money
It goes without saying that the over-1,500 pieces of art that were found in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, practically just by chance, represent an almost incalculable value in purely monetary terms. But for the descendants of those families who had their priceless possessions taken away from them, it is not a question of money – it is a question of retribution and a sense that a piece of their past has been returned to them. Naturally, it will take a long time, perhaps years, to figure out exactly who the rightful owners are of each individual piece. With over 1,500 of them to catalogue and trace back to the original owners, this appears to be a monumental task. A specialist from Art Recovery International, Christopher Marinello, describes the assembled collection of art as the crème de la crème. His company, which tries to assist in mediating situation such as this when supposedly lost artworks are rediscovered, represents the descendants of a few of the families who are suspected to have been looted by the Nazis.
Retribution From the Holocaust Is Not Over
You can be sure that there are many people in the Jewish community who have not forgotten the atrocities that were committed during the Holocaust by the Nazis. Somehow, though, time heals a lot of wounds. However, when there is a discovery such as the one that was made recently, appearing on headlines all over the world, it serves as a reminder that the pain and loss from the Holocaust is still not over. Who knows what other invaluable pieces of art are stashed away in some dark closet, just waiting for the light of day? The history of art looted by the Nazis may very well be far from over.
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Image attributed to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/6578301355/