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WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?

Our call is to museum managers, curators, auction house managers, elected officials and private individuals.

 

Background: The film The European Dream deals with the dreams of my grandfather - Julius Klausner and Robert Graetz a German Jews who dreamed for cultural and social integration in pre-World War II Germany, the dream and its shattering. Its protagonists, the grandchildren, are actively involved in the return of works of art stolen from their grandparents by the Nazis, for some paintings their whereabouts are unknown.

After the murder and robbery during the Holocaust, an injustice has yet to be rectified and is covered by a veil of bureaucracy and exhaustion made by many countries, including Germany.

Attempts to locate the works have, over the years, required extensive resources, provenance investigation and long, expensive and exhausting legal procedures, some of which appear in the film.

The first barrier is the auction houses which are protected according to the "Customer Confidentiality" Law for past sales; even if the claimant proves that his work is stolen work, he is still unable to demand details concerning the sales and not even about those made during the war (in cases where such information exists). So, there is almost no way to locate the current possessor of the work and demand its recovery.

Another barrier is cases where private individuals hold stolen works "and enjoy" and hide behind the Statute of Limitations Law, i.e., thirty years from the date of theft.

In addition to all that has been said, some survivors and heirs do not have the emotional capacity or financial ability to face all the government and institutional bureaucracy, some entire families have been murdered, and no one remains who can claim the works of art in their possession.

The paintings of our grandparents adorning the walls of privet houses, the walls of museums and being sold in auction houses, screaming without a voice the injustice that continues even today.

Focusing targets:

1. Abolishing the statute of limitations,

Abolishing the statute of limitations throughout Europe on privately owned works whose ownership is in doubt and bringing it to a court decision.

2. Amend the "Customer Confidentiality"

Amend the "Customer Confidentiality section by requiring information about sales for which there is a reasonable suspicion that the transaction involved stolen work.

3. The faith of the "unclaimed" works of art,

Many stolen artworks will never have rightful owners due to the simple fact that their legal owners were Holocaust victims. In many cases, there are no heirs, and in other instances, the heirs have no knowledge of these art pieces. What will be the fate of these works? Who will represent them? Who will be their rightful owner? These are weighty questions that should be brought to the public agenda.

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