Print Yom Tov Tsahalon

Restitutions / Notifications

Public or private institutions in Germany wishing to inform us of a restitution or any other just and fair solution can report a restitution here. We also provide background information and current examples of returns.

Notification of Restitutions

We appeal to all museums, libraries, archives and other collections in Germany to inform the Foundation of restitutions or other just and fair solutions in connection with cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution and to use this online reporting channel for this purpose. Please send us at least the information that you use for your press and public relations work.

Private institutions are of course free to use the online reporting channel if they wish to share details of a just and fair solution or restitution.

Please note that registration is only possible for those who are employed by or authorised to register on behalf of the respective institution. For this reason, we would ask you to register using an official institutional e-mail address, not a private one. Private individuals who have restituted an object and would like to inform us of this, please send an e-mail to restitution@kulturgutverluste.de.

Felder mit * sind Pflichtangaben

Online-Meldeformular

Um eine Restitutionsmeldung zu tätigen, benötigen Sie einen gültigen Zugang.
Hier können Sie sich registrieren.

Please Note

The information provided will be collected, stored, processed and used exclusively in connection with and in fulfilment of the Foundation’s statutory tasks. Insofar as personal data is involved, the collection, storage, processing and use of this data is carried out solely to the extent permitted by the provisions of the Federal Data Protection Act. Otherwise, use of the online reporting channel is entirely voluntary.

Please only report restitutions or other just and fair solutions that you have not previously reported to the Foundation or to the former Koordinierungsstelle (Coordination Office) Magdeburg, which was merged into the Foundation in 2015. The register that has been kept to date will be supplemented and continued, not replaced.

Background

Millions of items of cultural property were looted during the National Socialist era. Jewish citizens in particular often lost all their possessions – not just valuable art collections but also mementos and everyday objects such as crockery, furniture and books. It is impossible to estimate how many objects changed hands illegally between 1933 and 1945. Nor is there any reliable answer to the question of how many such items have been returned to their rightful owners since the end of the Second World War.

Since the Washington Principles of 1998 and in particular the Joint Declaration (Common Statement) of 1999, public institutions in Germany are under moral obligation to search their holdings for cultural property that was seized as a result of persecution during the National Socialist era and to return it to its owners, or else to arrive at some other “just and fair” solution. Numerous works of art, books and other cultural properties have been since restituted by cultural heritage institutions.

The German Lost Art Foundation supports public and private museums, libraries, universities, archives and also private individuals in clarifying the origin of their collections.

Just and Fair Solutions

In practice, the question often arises as to what a just and fair solution might look like in concrete terms. In addition to physically returning the object, restitution followed by repurchase on the part of the previous owner is also possible: this enables the item of cultural property to remain in a collection and be presented to the public, for example. It is also conceivable for the object to be restituted subject to special terms and conditions (such as the option to borrow it for an exhibition), for it to remain with the current owner with the claimant receiving compensation, or for a loan agreement to be concluded regarding the restituted object. In some cases, the parties agree that an object can remain with the current owner, providing the latter is transparent about the provenance and provides information on the fate of the former owner.

There are a variety of sources that provide guidance on arriving at a just and fair solution: The series published by the former Koordinierungsstelle (Coordination Office) Magdeburg lists numerous practical cases containing details of the just and fair solutions arrived at over the past years. Information on the spectrum of just and fair solutions and the arrangements they involve are also to be found in the Provenance Research Manual. Further references to past cases, publications etc. are available from the German Lost Art Foundation.

Mit dem Laden des Videos akzeptieren Sie die Datenschutzerklärung von YouTube. Find out more
Video laden

The film is available free of charge for download.
It may be used and distributed under the licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.
© German Lostart Foundation, bildbad

Restitution Register

The Foundation keeps an internal register to document restitutions and other settlements in relation to cultural property seized as a result of National Socialist persecution. Since such solutions are arrived at on a decentralised basis and there is no legal obligation to report returns in Germany, this register does not claim to be complete. The information also contains details that were communicated confidentially. For this reason, the published number of restitutions known to the German Lost Art Foundation is only a generalised figure.

To date (End of November 2023), a total of 9.585 museum objects and 31.905 library materials and archive documents, which have been returned to their rightful owners since the end of the war, have been recorded. However, these restitutions also include bundles of items, the scope of which cannot be determined in more precise detail because of the sources.

As regards Nazi-confiscated property, more than 7.459 cultural goods in the museum sector have been restituted in Germany since the Washington Principles of 1998. In terms of counting objects, collections have been recorded individually. There are also more than 24.483 books and other library materials, as well as an amount of archive documents that is difficult to quantify in numerical terms.

In numerous instances, findings from research projects funded by the Foundation have resulted in restitution. See here for some recent examples:

Reports on the subject

Dr. Jorge Feuchtwanger (heir) and Dr. Mathias Weniger (Head of Provenenz Research at the Bavarian National Museums) with one of the restituted items of silverware.
Restitution of five silver objects to Jewish heirs at the Bavarian National Museum in Munich
The Di­rec­tor Gen­er­al of the Bavar­i­an Na­tion­al Mu­se­um, Dr. Frank Matthias Kam­mel, hand­ed over five items of sil­ver­ware orig­i­nal­ly owned by Therese Lipp­mann, Ol­ga Maier and Dr. Karl Son­nen­thal to the lat­ter’s heirs.
Four of these ornamental façade stones were found in the attic of the museum during the research process.
A stroke of luck for the clover leaves – Aschersleben Museum returns cultural assets
As­ch­er­sleben Mu­nic­i­pal Mu­se­um is to resti­tute sev­en­teen ob­jects to the lo­cal Ma­son­ic lodge Zu den drei Klee­blät­tern on 13 April 2022, this year’s Prove­nance Re­search Day.
Prayer book
Jewish Museum of Westphalia restitutes prayer book to rightful heiress
After more than 80 years, Susanne Woodin (90) from Great Britain has recovered a valuable prayer book from her family estate: The "Machsor al kol ha-Shanah" is a prayer book for the whole year and dates back to 1851.