While we would like to think that World War II is so far behind us, many are being confronted by it again. Many German art collectors are now facing the question if their art collections were really theirs to begin with. Many now don’t want stolen art from the Jews during the war to be hanging in their homes. The German government has now announced that they will be subsidizing efforts to return art to their original owners from a fund around 3.6 million dollars. Other families have been stepping forward and attempting to find those who used to own the works of art, paying investigators to go through paintings, silver, gold, etc. According to German law, the heirs of the original Jewish owners must rely on the good will of private collectors; unlike museums who are required to reach and communicate with heirs. Unlike earlier generations, the current generation is more aware of restitution and are more willing to reach the original owners.
Learning about many works of art in my art history class, I was often troubled with the amount of works that were taken during World War II. I have thought for awhile that the efforts should be more aggressive and people need to realize where their “family heirlooms” are coming from. I wonder if some people will be resistant to this effort and hide their art instead of giving it to the original owners.
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