A website providing information on over 20,000 works of art stolen by the Nazis from their Jewish owners during the 1930s and 1940s was launched Monday.
Much of the artwork featured on the website which includes paintings by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Gustav Klimt has never been restored to the original owners.RELATED:Metro Views: A guide to recovering Nazi-looted artBerlin museum exhibition views Hitler's hold on GermansThe website
was created by the New York-based Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC with the aim of facilitating the repatriation of the looted property.
"Most people think or thought that most of these items were repatriated or restituted," Wesley A. Fisher, director of research at the Claims Conference, was quoted by AP as saying. "It isn't true. Over half of them were never repatriated. That in itself is rather interesting historically."
Marc Masurovsky, the project's director at the museum, said the database was designed to evolve as new information is gathered. "I hope that the families do consult it and tell us what is right and what is wrong with it," he added.
Julius Berman, the chairman of the Claims Conference, said organizing Nazi art-looting records was a key step to righting an injustice.
"It is now the responsibility of museums, art dealers and auction houses
to check their holdings against these records to determine whether they
might be in possession of art stolen from Holocaust victims," he said.
The website features a wide range of art with different histories of ownership.
For instance, one painting in the database, A Harvest Scene
by Dutch-French impressionist Camille Pissaro, whose father was Jewish,
was found in 2007 in a safe owned by the deceased arts dealer of Nazi
war criminal Hermann Goering. It is currently in the process of being
reclaimed by the Rothschild family, its original owners.
However, many other paintings on the website are on display at museums
without owners while others - like the Pissarro piece before it was
found at the Zurich safe two years ago - are still unaccounted for.
AP contributed to this report