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Germany Funding Private Collectors’ Search for Nazi Looted Art in Their Collections

History By
German Art Collectors Struggle With Searching Their Collections for Looted Nazi Art
While a lieutenant checks his list in the background, 7th army soldiers carry three valuable paintings down the steps of Neuschwanstein Castle at Fussen, Germany, on May 22, 1945, where they were a part of the collection looted by the Nazis from conquered countries. (Bettmann/Contributor)


When the Nazis sent millions of European Jews to the ghettos and concentration camps during World War II, they also looted countless homes, stealing priceless collections of fine art and other valuables.

In the decades since the war, a number of crusading historians have made their their life’s work tracking down this stolen art.

According to The New York Times, after the war, most private art collectors in Germany didn’t examine their collections to determine if any of the works of art were stolen. But a younger generation of art collectors—including descendants of the original art collectors themselves—are trying to right a historical wrong. Per the Times, “to persuade more collectors to undertake [stolen art] research, the German government has announced it will begin subsidizing such efforts, using money from a national fund of 3.4 million euros [about $3.6 million].”

Now families also looking for looted art can now potentially search private collections as well as public ones. But it’s all in the hands of the private art collectors, who have to make their collections available for the initiative.

For the story of one Jewish family member’s search for his descendant’s looted art collection, watch the PBS News Hour video below.