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Nazi loot in UK set to be returned

The Holocaust (Stolen Art) Restitution Bill [1] looks likely to become law. This opens a new special case in Acts of Parliament such as the British Museum Act that govern museums – defining a type of artefacts that the museum can legitimately deaccession from their collections

ITN [2]

Nazi art set to be returned
Last update: Sat Jul 11 2009 09:08:33

Artworks looted by the Nazis that have ended up in UK galleries could be returned to their owners.

Labour’s Lord Janner of Braunstone, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said around 20 looted pieces are believed to be held in national collections.

His Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Bill would plug a legal loophole preventing them from being returned to their rightful owners.

Under the Bill, which covers bodies such as the British Museum and the Imperial War Museum, the Spoliation Advisory Panel will assess whether a work of art was looted and recommend to the Culture Secretary if it should be returned.

The legislation has already cleared the Commons, where it was steered through by Labour’s Andrew Dismore (Hendon), chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Lord Janner told peers: “My entire family in Latvia and Lithuania, every one of them, was murdered by the Nazis and had all their possessions stolen by their killers. So I understand very well the need for survivors and their descendants to be able to reclaim at least some of what they have lost.”

He added: “There must be consensus for there to be restitution. This Bill cannot operate where there is any disagreement.”