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Correction: France-Holocaust Theft story
Question of the Day
It is not clear to whom Neumann sold them, and the route they took to show up in French museums is unclear. They found places at the Louvre, the Museum of Modern Art of Saint-Etienne, the Agen Fine Arts Museum and the Tours Fine Art Museum.
Neumann’s grandson, Tom Selldorff, was a young boy in 1930s Vienna when he last saw his grandfather’s collection. At 82, the U.S. resident is going to get them back and wants to pass a piece of his Austrian grandfather’s heritage down to his children.
“Tom is 82 years old… So time is important; they need to act quickly,” said Muriel de Bastier, Art Chief of the Spoliation Victim’s Compensation Commission, a French government body that helps families all over the world get back their stolen work.
The other painting, “The Halt” by Dutch painter Pieter Jansz Van Asch, was stolen by the Gestapo in Prague in 1939 from a Jewish banker, Josef Wiener, who was later deported and died in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
After the war, the painting was confused with a work owned by a Frenchman and erroneously sent to Paris, so Wiener’s widow’s efforts to locate the painting in Germany were fruitless.
For years it hung in the Louvre, until the family finally tracked it down online in the mid-2000s. After problems identifying the painting were cleared up, then-French Prime Minister Francois Fillon gave the family the green light to give it back last year.
Other Jewish owned property was “legally” appropriated by the state itself. Some 100,000 houses were seized and sold to non-Jews between 1940 and 1944, as the Vichy government copied the Nazi’s anti-Semitic policy of “Aryanization” _ of displacing Jews from society. The French state then pocketed the money.
A national exhibit at Paris’ Shoah Memorial confronts the issue for the first time, tracing the 1941 creation of a commission that enforced the seizures _ often with the help of volunteers, coldly called “administrators.” They exercised full rights over the property of Jewish families.
All around the country, billboards, posters and classified ads in newspapers popped up calling on the public to buy the stolen property.
The exhibit features one which reads “For Sale: Beautiful bourgeois home,” or another in bold writing: “Sale of Jewish property… Belonging to (an) Israelite.”
The exhibit’s curator, Tal Bruttman, said this is the only time in history where the state actually called on the whole nation to take part in anti-Semitism.
“It’s a crucial story that’s not been told before,” Bruttmann said. The exhibit runs until Sept. 21.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP
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