Winter Semester 2023/2024
The History of Restitution after 1945
Date: 20 October 2023, 11.15 a.m. to 12.45 p.m: digital; 24 November 2023, 9.15 a.m. to 4.45 p.m.: in-person; 15 December 2023, 9.15 a.m. to 4.45 p.m.: in-person; 12 January 2024, 11.15 a.m. to 12.45 p.m.: digital
Start: 20 October 2023
Venue: Dubnow Institute/Leipzig University and digital
Seminar Language: German
The destruction, theft, and expropriation of Jewish cultural property was a constant component of the Nazi regime’s attacks on the Jewish populations of Europe. Following the Europe-wide persecution and murder of Jews, Jewish cultural property, including the art collections of Jewish collectors and private individuals, appeared to have been scattered, shattered, and extinguished. The history of location, recollection, and restitution already began in 1947 with the establishment of the organization Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, which was supported by Jewish intellectual such as Hannah Arendt, Gershom Sholem, and Salo Baron. That same year, the American occupation forces laid the foundations for the restitution of art and cultural property with United States Military Law 59, which remains in effect to this day. Nazi-looted art comprises around 600,000 artworks literally looted or confiscated in the course of persecution measures. In 2012, the Gurlitt case attracted international attention to the fact that significant works of modern art have still not been returned to their original Jewish owners or their descendants. Nazi-looted art can still be found today in museums and galleries or with art collectors and private owners. Provenance research has at least managed to assert itself in publicly funded museums, now also including research on art stolen during the colonial period. Yet the process of locating and restituting Nazi-looted art seems to be dragging on. An exhibition will be dedicated to the history of restituting cultural property, especially Nazi-looted art after 1945. The seminar will focus on texts, biographies, legal concepts, and paradigmatic portrait collections.
Literature: The seminar reader will be made available at the beginning of the semester.
Open to mature age students: no
Participation is limited to 20 people.