Ze'ev Elkin 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Foreign Ministry has urged the German government to find “not only a legal solution but a just solution” to the restitution of a trove of Nazilooted artwork seized in Munich, the deputy foreign minister said last week.
Ze’ev Elkin’s comments in the Knesset on Wednesday represented the first time that the government publicly acknowledged involvement in the case, in which German authorities found 1,406 pieces of artwork in the apartment of the son of a Nazi art dealer.
“It is our historical task as the heirs of the people whose property was looted by the Nazis – and some of them were murdered – and of course we will do anything to restore these properties to their private owners or heirs,” Elkin said.
He added that Israel represents the “whole Jewish world” in its mission to return the artwork to its heirs or, if no heirs can be found, to put the paintings in a Jewish museum in Israel or in Germany.
An attorney who represents one of the claimants in the case praised Elkin’s comments.
“This is the beginning of a process to undo the decades of confusion in settling art cases.
There is a need for Germany to clarify the legal system so that these claims can be resolved quickly. Germany has been a leader in restitution in the past.
There is too much confusion,” Mel Urbach said in a statement.
The art controversy began last month when the German government acknowledged that it had seized the artwork.
Restitution experts believe that a substantial part of the trove was art stolen from Jewish art collectors.