July 12, 2006

British government asks for opinions on returning Nazi loot

Posted at 8:59 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

For some time now, the British Government has been talking about making changes to the acts governing many of Britain’s major museums & galleries. The change being considered is to allow the return of looted artefacts taken stolen by the Nazis which ended up in British Institutions.
Last year, there were two high profile cases, that of the Benevento Missal in the British Library & that of the Feldmann paintings in the British Museum, which would have been directly affected by such a change in the law.
Now the government’s Department of Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) is at last inviting public opinion on the issue before they consider the details of such a change in the law.
Any changes in the limiting anti-deaccessioning rules that govern so many British institutions are to be welcomed, allowing more flexibility in the restitution of artefacts when required. One thing that I have never understood about these proposals for a change to the law is why the change should be limited to such a specific period in time – excluding any equally valid cases that occurred before or after specific dates.

BBC News

Last Updated: Monday, 10 July 2006, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
Public’s views sought on Nazi art

The government “would like to enable the return” of art stolen during the Nazi era, culture minister David Lammy has said.

In recent years, some items that ended up in UK collections have not been returned to their owners because of legal restrictions.

Now the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is asking the public whether the law should be changed.

But it said it was “not possible to say” when new laws will be introduced.

The public consultation was prompted by an independent panel that decides claims about art plundered during the Nazi era.

The Spoliation Advisory Committee, established in 2000, has so far ruled on five claims concerning looted art being held in UK collections.

In two cases, they decided objects should be returned to their owners but subsequently discovered that the law prevented such an action.


Last year, the panel recommended that the law should be changed.

Announcing the public consultation, Mr Lammy said: “The government remains committed to doing all it can to correct some of the terrible wrongs that were committed during the Nazi era.

“The Spoliation Advisory Panel has helped bring many of these injustices to light and has proposed fair and equitable solutions throughout.

“We would now like to go one step further by enabling the return of items to the heirs of the original owners where this seems appropriate.”

Members of the public who wish to express their views on the issue can write to the DCMS until 10 November.

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