NAZI LOOTED ART & PROVENANCE RESEARCH IN THE NETHERLANDS
Erstellt für das Arbeitskreistreffen am 23. und 24. April 2015 in Weimar
I. NAZI LOOTED ART IN THE NETHERLANDS AND ITS HISTORY OF RESTITUTION AFTER WWII
a. Short history of the plundering of cultural objects during the “Third Reich”
Germany invaded The Netherlands in the night from 9 to 10 May 1940. After the capitulation, on 15 May 1940, a relatively quiet period followed in which the Nazi’s concentrated on the restoration of public order and the installment of a small civil administration, lead by Arthur Seyss‐Inquart. He initially reassured the population that The Netherlands had no Jewish problem. Persecution of the Jewish population took place through a gradual, systematic, bureaucratically regulated process of registration, isolation and deportation. On 22 October 1940, all Jewish firms had to register with the authorities, followed on 27 January 1941 by all Jewish individuals.
Before February 1941, only assets from specific groups were seized. As the Netherlands was an important safe haven and transit country for Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria, stored household effects left behind in The Netherlands were quickly put under control of the German occupational authorities as enemy property. Also, the Dienststelle Mühlmann – formally part of Seyss‐Inquart’s occupational government – was active from the very onset to gather information and ‘set aside’ and buy artworks deemed important for Germany.
During the occupation, an important amount of high quality fine art was bought, not confiscated. Various factors contributed to a 6 to 8-fold increase in price of artworks between 1940 and 1943. Dutch art traders used this opportunity to make substantial profits, even though all transactions with the enemy were forbidden and pre‐emptively declared null and void by the Dutch government in exile (Besluit Rechtsverkeer in Oorlogstijd, ‘Besluit A6’, article 10, 7 June 1940). Prices decreased after the occupation – in 1947, the prices were at a level of 180 to 240 compared to a 1940 baseline of 100.
The bulk of the looting of Jewish assets took place in the period June 1941 – June 1943. From 12 March 1941 on, Jewish firms were ‘aryanized’ and put under control of an administrator (‘Verwalter’), who could deny the art dealer control over their business and who could liquidate the firm and its assets. In august 1941 Jews were forced to deposit their monetary assets with Liro, a looting organization instituted by the Nazi’s (Lippmann, Rosenthal & Co, Sarphatistraat, named after a reputable Jewish bank in Amsterdam). On 28 May 1942, it was ordered that Jews also had to deposit all valuable items, including art, at Liro. Deportations on a large scale started in the summer of 1942. After Jewish inhabitants were deported, homes were emptied (‘Pulsed’) and the household effects sold off, transported to Germany as part of the M-Aktion, or stolen. In attempts to obtain permission to exit the country or obtain a ‘Sperre’, Jews were coaxed and coerced to sell or hand over valuable property, including artworks, to the occupational government or to persons claiming to be able to exert influence.
The Netherlands was liberated starting in September 1944 with the southern part of the country and ending with the formal capitulation of Germany on 5/6 May 1945.
Gerard Aalders, Roof. De ontvreemding van joods bezit tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog, Den Haag 1999.
Bart van der Boom, ‘Wij weten niets van hun lot’. Gewone Nederlanders en de Holocaust, Amsterdam 2012.
Jeroen Euwe, De Nederlandse kunstmarkt 1940–1945, Amsterdam 2007.
Drs. F. Hoek and J. ten Wolde, “Roof en Restitutie Joods Vermogen”, Rapport uitgebracht aan de Contactgroep Tegoeden Wereldoorlog II (2 parts, 15 December 1999).
Lou de Jong, Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog (1969–1994), online: http://www.niod.knaw.nl/nl/koninkrijk
Floris Kunert and Annemarie Marck, The Dutch Art Market 1930–1945 and Dutch Restitution Policy Regarding Art Dealers, in: Eva Blimlinger and Monika Mayer (eds), Kunst sammeln, Kunst handeln: Beiträge des Internationalen Symposiums in Wien, Wien/Köln/Weimar 2012.
Joggli Meihuizen, Noodzakelijk Kwaad. De bestraffing van economische collaboratie in Nederland na de Tweede Wereldoorlog, Amsterdam 2003.
Bob Moore, Victims and Survivors. The Nazi Persecution of the Jews in the Netherlands 1940–1945, London 1997; (Dutch translation 1998).
Jacques Presser, Ondergang. De vervolging en verdelging van het Nederlandse jodendom 1940–1945, Den Haag 1965, online: http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/pres003onde01_01/
Tweede rapport Commissie van Onderzoek Liro-archieven (‘Commissie Kordes’), December 1998.
Adriaan Venema, Kunsthandel in Nederland 1940–1945, Amsterdam 1986.
b. Indemnification developments from 1945 to date
As early as June 1940, the Dutch government in exile started to prepare for measures to restore judicial order. The results were encoded on 17 December 1944 in a decree, Besluit Herstel Rechtsverkeer (E100), which regulated the recovery from enemy influence and restoration of trade, but expressly excluded compensation or indemnification by the Dutch State for victims of both enemy and allied actions during the occupation period. There were no special provisions for Jewish victims.
The primary organization responsible for implementing the restoration of rights, the Council for the Restoration of Rights, was instated on 9 August 1945. Claims could be submitted to the court department, which could intervene in civil matters, until 1 July 1951. It also acted as appeals court for restitution decisions. Property of both enemies and traitors (175.000) as well as Jewish victims (28.000) was administrated by a division of the Council for the Restoration of Rights, the NBI (Dutch Administration Institute). The NBI had the task to return objects to its Jewish owners or heirs. The Council and the NBI were dissolved on 1 June 1967. Since then, the court in The Hague is formally responsible for decisions regarding the restoration of rights, but terms of limitation have long since expired.
From 1946 on, the Dutch State was able to contribute to compensation for war damage to household effects of all inhabitants. The height of the compensation was determined by the ‘Schade‐Enquete-Commissie’ (SEC). In 1957 the German Federal Republic issued the Bundesrückerstattungsgesetz. Claims could be filed if it was plausible that looted goods were transported to Berlin or West‐Germany. Through negotiations, the Bundesfinanzministerium eventually accepted the general assumption that 80% of all Dutch Jewish household effects were transported to West‐Germany. Until June 1966, 22.655 claims were admitted for a value of DM 192 million, of which DM 179 million was paid out. For other forms of (material and immaterial) indemnification and compensation since 1945, see the publications mentioned below.
The recuperation and restitution of cultural objects such as art, ceramics, silverware etc. was initially carried out by the Government‐founded Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit (SNK). This foundation organized the recuperation of art from Germany, administered the returned artworks and handled restitution claims. It also had an interior department, which was responsible for tracking down and administering artworks from Germans and traitors in The Netherlands. In order to be able to recuperate art from Germany, the SNK issued declaration forms and the government ordered that all art that got into the hands of the enemy during the occupation was to be declared with the SNK.
Practically from 1949 onwards (formally from 1 June 1950) the responsibilities of the SNK were transferred to Bureau Hergo, part of the Ministry of Finance. Operation ceased on 1 February 1953. The recuperated artworks that remained in custody of the state were partially auctioned off. The remaining objects are nowadays part of the so-called NK-collection. They are largely stored in depot and partially on loan to museums and used to decorate government buildings.
Since the mid-90’s, there has been renewed attention for restitution of assets looted during the Second World War. The Dutch government instituted a number of committees to research the process of looting, restitution and indemnification in The Netherlands. Of the various committees, the one headed by Prof. Dr. R.E.O. Ekkart was tasked in 1997 with researching the looting and restitution of artworks. Under supervision of the Ekkart-committee, between 1997 and 2004 the Origins Unknown Agency attempted to reconstruct the provenance of all individual works in the NK-collection. The committee also issued recommendations on how to deal with claims on looted art, which formed the basis for a more generous policy on the restitution of looted art which was subsequently adopted by the Dutch government. In 2001, the Restitutions Committee was established to advise both the minister as well as other parties on individual restitution claims.
From 1998 onwards, Dutch museums have been investigating heir collections. Under auspices of the Museums Association, initial research was carried out in 1998–1999. In 2009, the Museums Association initiated a second round of research by asking the Dutch museums to ascertain whether their collections contained works of art of which the provenance indicated that were possibly stolen, confiscated or sold under duress between 1933 and 1945. The research is still ongoing, and initial results were published on 29 October 2013.
Gerard Aalders, Roof. De ontvreemding van joods bezit tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog, Amsterdam 1999.
Gerard Aalders, Berooid. De beroofde joden en het Nederlandse restitutiebeleid sinds 1945, Amsterdam 2001.
Bockxmeer, J. M. L. van, P. C. A. Lamboo en H. A. J. van Schie, Archieven joodse oorlogsgetroffenen, Den Haag 1998.
Boudewijns Guido en Perry Schrier, Eindresultaten van het onderzoek naar de herkomstgeschiedenis van de NK-collectie, CD-ROM, Stichting RKD 2006.
Evelien Campfens, Annemarie Marck, Eelke Muller, Recht auf Umwegen. Die Niederländische Restitutionskommission, in: Osteuropa, 56 (2006) 1–2, page 415–432.
Evelien Campfens (ed.), Fair and just solutions? Alternatives to litigations in Nazi-looted art disputes: status quo and new developments, The Hague 2015.
Drs. F. Hoek and J. ten Wolde, “Roof en Restitutie Joods Vermogen”, Rapport uitgebracht aan de Contactgroep Tegoeden Wereldoorlog II (2 delen, 15 december 1999)
W. Klein, Het rechtsherstel gewogen: vragen mét en zónder antwoord (27.01.2000).
Eelke Muller and Helen Schretlen, Betwist Bezit. De Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit en de teruggave van roofkunst na 1945, Zwolle 2002.
Nationaal Archief, Inventaris van het archief van de Raad voor het Rechtsherstel, afdeling Rechtspraak, toegang 2.09.48.02.
Rapport Museale Verwervingen 1940–1948 (December 1999), online: http://www.musealeverwervingen.nl
Report Commissie Ekkart, Herkomst Gezocht, Zwolle 2006.
Reports restitutiecommissie, online: http://www.restitutiecommissie.nl/en/publications.html
Reports Bureau Herkomst Gezocht, 1999–2004, online: http://www.herkomstgezocht.nl/eng/nkcollectie/index.html
Tweede rapport Commissie van Onderzoek Liro-archieven (‘Commissie Kordes’) (December 1998).
Several of the publications mentioned above can be consulted online through the website of the Dutch Government at http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/tweede-wereldoorlog/teruggave-tegoeden-tweede-wereldoorlog
The publications of the Museums Association can be consulted online at http://www.musealeverwervingen.nl
II. ESTABLISHMENTS FOR THE INTERESTS OF VICTIMS, RESEARCHER, MUSEUMS ETC. CONCERNING NAZI LOOTED ART
General assistance with research on looted art is provided by Perry Schrier of BHG:
Bureau Herkomst Gezocht
Prins Willem Alexanderhof 20
2595 DE Den Haag
Individual claims are handled by the Restitutions Committee:
Adviescommissie Restitutieverzoeken Cultuurgoederen en Tweede Wereldoorlog
2501 CN Den Haag
The RKD is the centre for art historical research in The Netherlands:
Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie
Prins Willem Alexanderhof 5
2508 CE Den Haag
The RCE is the custodian of the Dutch State Collection, including the NK-collection:
Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed
3800 BP Amersfoort
a. Information on an object or artist
Het Nederlands Instituut voor Kunstgeschiedenis (RKD) in The Hague is an institution, open to the public, with an extensive library and a lot of documenation on art history:
- Database of artists
– Press documentation on artists, dealers and collectors (not online)
– Hofstede de Groot-fiches: Fiches with descriptions of paintings and their whereabouts, noted by art historian C. Hofstede de Groot, mostly c. 1890–1930
– Database of the photographical archive of works of art
– Photographical archive of works of art (more extensive than what is online)
– Database of portraits and their whereabouts
– Photographical archive of portraits, searchable by family name or artist (more extensive than what is online)
– The library, with a lot of annotated (sale) catalogues (the catalogues themselves cannot be consulted online)
Nationaal Archief in The Hague
The inventory of the archive of the Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit, that was in charge of the recuperation and restitution in the Netherlands http://www.gahetna.nl/collectie/archief/ead/i …
This archive also contains lists of works of art, and names of their Jewish owners, who were forced to turn in their belongings at the Lippmann Rosenthal Bank (for short: LiRobank). See for the LiRo-lists no. 714–717.
b. Genealogical and biographical information
The registry of births, deaths and marriages from 1811
Website of the National Archives in The Hague
Database of various Dutch archives, searchable by family name
Website on the Dutch sources from Family Search
Website Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie in The Hague
Biographical information from various Dutch sources
Website of the Jewish genealogical dictionary
Community for Jews in the netherlands, also searchable by family name
Database of digitalised Dutch newspapers from the 17th up to the 20th century
c. City Archives
d. Information on a dealer or collector
Nederlands Instituut voor Kunstgeschiedenis (RKD) in The Hague
– Database of dealers and collectors
– Press documentation on artists, dealers and collectors (not online)
– Several archives (some are open to the public and some are not) of Dutch dealers and collectors, such as Goudstikker, Bachstitz, Hoogendijk, Thurkow, Wisselingh & Co, Nieuwenhuyzen (not online)
– The inventory cards of the dealer
– The library, with lots of annotated (sale) catalogues (the catalogues themselves cannot be consulted online)
Website of Herkomst gezocht, with recuperated objects, also searchable by family name
Information on the dealers/collectors Chabot, Goudstikker, Gutmann (Goodman), Koenigs, Lanz, Larsen, Mannheimer, Mautner, Von Pannwitz
Archives of the dealers Duits, Nystad and Oude Kunst Gallery (Cramer)
Dutch restitution cases, searchable by family name
Inventory of the archive of Stichting Nationaal Kunstbezit, also searchable by family name
List of dealers that sold recuperated art on sales between 1948 and 1952
Website showing the objects with unclear provenances from Dutch museums, also searchable by family name
The library of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, with a lot of annotated (sale) catalogues (the catalogues themselves cannot be consulted online)
IV. SELECTION OF RESTITUTION CASES IN THE NETHERLANDS
The Goudstikker-case has gained the most interest of all restitution claims, but the case is historically very a-typical, because it concerns an art dealership which was taken over when the original owner died shortly after leaving the country. The interesting question in this case was whether the case was already brought to a final close, first as a result of the deed signed by the widow of Jacques Goudstikker in the 1950’s, and secondly as a result of the judgement of the The Hague court in 1999 following an attempt of the Goudstikker-heirs to reclaim the collection through the regular court system.
Cases with a clear link to Germany are for example:
Adelsberger: A Nürnberger toy manufacturer whose family settled in Amsterdam:
Alsberg: A carpet from the house of Dr. Max Alsberg, a well-known lawyer during the Weimar-republic who fled to Switzerland and subsequently committed suicide. His widow settled in the UK in 1939. The carpet was put in storage in The Hague and seized by the German authorities as enemy property.
Arnhold: Case concerns artworks owned by a persecuted German-Jewish banker, which are from the former ownership of his business partner Dr. Paul von Schwabach, and stored in Amsterdam at the time.
Oppenheimer: Artworks auctioned from the collection of the German Margraf / Van Diemen art dealer complex.
Rosenbaum: Jewish art dealers originally from Frankfurt, who re-settled in the Netherlands during the 1930’s and were once again run-over by the German attack in 1940.
Stern: A Jewish art dealer who was the owner of Galerie Julius Stern in Düsseldorf. After fleeing Germany in December 1937, Stern established another art dealership, first in England and then, in 1940, in Canada.
Von Pannwitz: Jewish-German/Argentinian aristocrat with close ties to the German emperor in exile sells artworks to Göring in exchange for an exit visum.