Israel Museum launches site for works stolen in WWII

Holocaust survivor: This is the first time a Jewish museum seeks to return Holocaust art.

August 26, 2007 22:25
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The Israel Museum has launched an on-line catalogue of works of art and Judaica looted during World War II and given to the museum after the war, the museum announced Sunday. The Jerusalem museum houses several hundred works stolen during the Holocaust that either have no record of prior ownership or came from institutions that did not survive the war. The property was originally given to the Bezalel National Museum, the Israel Museum's predecessor, by the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization, which was charged with reclaiming stolen Jewish property and which transferred many works of art and Judaica to Jewish institutions in Israel and around the world. The works were subsequently moved to the Israel Museum in 1965, when the museum was founded. The on-line catalogue - accessible on the Israel Museum's Web site, - provides information on paintings, drawings and Judaica objects, and includes images, titles of works, names of artists (if known), countries of origin (if known), dimensions and other identifying characteristics. The Web site, which is entitled World War II Provenance Research On-line, was launched in cooperation with the newly-established Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets in Israel, which had pressured the museum and other public institutions in Israel to publicize the information in accordance with the law. Avraham Roet, head of the restitution organization, praised the museum on Sunday for fully acceding to the request to list the information after initially balking at the move. "This is a major moral accomplishment for the state of Israel," said Roet, a Holocaust survivor. Roet said that this was the first time that a Jewish museum was searching for heirs for artwork stolen in the Holocaust and given to Jewish organizations after the war. The new Web site provides instructions for requesting property restitution.

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