In 2017, the Foundation Board of the German Lost Art Foundation decided that no proposal-based provenance research should yet be carried out in the area Soviet Occupation Zone/GDR as it is in the area of Nazi-looted property (and from 2019 in the area of cultural goods and collections from colonial contexts): instead, basic research should first be undertaken in order to be able to put identified (or alleged) cases of expropriation correctly into context in the first place so as to identify their frequency, systematic nature and motivation.
In order to be able to conduct this basic research in a targeted manner and avoid the randomness of incoming proposals, the decision was made to pursue so-called cooperation projects. For this purpose, the German Lost Art Foundation finds academic partners who are able offer special expertise in dealing with a particular gap in research, who have already carried out preliminary work on the subject, who dispose of special sources or who are particularly well qualified to undertake the research task. The two partners involved in each case then jointly develop a project that covers a clearly defined gap in knowledge in the research area.
As such, the basic research cooperations themselves are not yet provenance research projects or in-depth inventory assessments. Instead, all of these pilot projects are intended to elaborate the structures of organised cultural property expropriations in the Soviet Occupation Zone and the GDR (methods, actors, those affected, groups of objects, objectives), provide overviews and case studies, determine the archive situation (quantity, locations, possibilities/difficulties of research), index important records and generally help create a basis for putting later provenance research into context.
The Department of Cultural Property Losses in Europe in the 20th Century is the point of contact.