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Huge hide of Nazi art plunder found - David Guyatt - 04-11-2013

According to the BBC news the father mentioned in the below article was part of a Nazi art dealer network centred in Bavaria and was personally engaged in the looting of art during the war.

The BBC expert who was interviewed adds that there are some additional important questions to be answered, including the fact that this horde was discovered two and a half years ago, but has been kept quiet by Bavarian authorities. The latter also haven't returned the art to respective owners who have been searching for it for 75 years.

All told there were 1500 paintings in the horde at a value of 1 billion euros.

Quote:German police recover 1,500 modernist masterpieces 'looted by Nazis'

Works by Chagall, Klee, Matisse and Picasso worth up to £860m had been considered lost until raid on flat in Schwabing
[Image: Hitler-Shows-Off-Purged-A-009.jpg]German art purged of modernism, impressionism and cubism is shown off by Adolf Hitler and propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels (far left) in Berlin in 1939. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

About 1,500 modernist masterpieces thought to have been looted by the Nazis have been confiscated from the flat of an 80-year-old man from Munich, in what is being described as the biggest artistic find of the postwar era.
The artworks, which could be worth as much as €1bn (£860m), are said to include pieces by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Paul Klee, Max Beckmann and Emil Nolde. They had been considered lost until now, according to a report in the German news weekly Focus.
The works, which would originally have been confiscated as "degenerate art" by the Nazis or taken from Jewish collectors in the 1930s and 1940s, had made their way into the hands of a German art collector, Hildebrand Gurlitt. When Gurlitt died, the artworks were passed down to his son, Cornelius all without the knowledge of the authorities.
Gurlitt, who had not previously been on the radar of the police, attracted the attention of the customs authorities only after a random cash check during a train journey from Switzerland to Munich in 2010, according to Focus. Further police investigations led to a raid on Gurlitt's flat in Schwabing in spring 2011. Police discovered a vast collection of masterpieces by some of the world's greatest artists.
The artworks are thought to have been stored amid juice cartons and tins of food on homemade shelves in a darkened room. Since their seizure, they have been stored in a safe customs building outside Munich, where the art historian Meike Hoffmann, from Berlin university, has been assessing their precise origin and value. When contacted by the Guardian, Hoffmann said she was under an obligation to maintain secrecy and would not be able to comment on the Focus report until Monday.
According to Focus, Cornelius Gurlitt, described as a loner, may have kept himself in pocket over the years by occasionally selling the odd artwork. Several of the frames in the flat were empty. He is thought to have sold at least one picture a painting called Lion Tamer by Beckmann since his flat was first raided by the police. On 2 December 2011, the painting was sold for €864,000 at an auction house in Cologne.
At least 300 paintings in the collection are thought to belong to a body of about 16,000 works once declared "degenerate art". Others are suspected to have been owned by fleeing Jewish collectors who had to leave belongings behind.
One Matisse painting used to belong to a French art dealer, Paul Rosenberg, whose granddaughter is Anne Sinclair, the TV journalist who is also the ex-wife of the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Rosenberg was renowned for representing Picasso, Georges Braque and Matisse.
Sinclair and her family have been campaigning for the return of looted Nazi treasures for years. "We are not willing to forget, or let it go," Marianne Rosenberg, another granddaughter, told the New York Times in April. "I think of it as a crusade."
Gwendolen Webster, an art historian who has spent time studying works from the Nazis' "degenerate art" collection, told the Guardian the significance of the find was "absolutely staggering for historians" but opened a legal can of worms.
One of the reasons why German customs may have been sitting on their find for such a long time is that they can expect a huge number of claims for restitution from around the world, with all the diplomatic difficulties that entails.
Descendants of Jewish collectors who were blackmailed or simply robbed of their works by the Nazis may now be able to legally claim ownership of some of the works in Munich.
The looted art trove may help to shed light on one of the more obscure chapters in Nazi Germany's history. Modernist art was banned soon after the Nazis came to power, on the ground that it was "un-German" or Jewish Bolshevist in nature.
From spring 1933 right up to the start of the war, exhibitions of the art toured the country, showcasing works that are now considered classics of expressionism, surrealism, cubism and Dada. Records of which artworks the authorities had looted from where are incomplete. "It was complete anarchy," says Webster.
Hildebrand Gurlitt, who had been a museum director in Zwickau until Hitler came to power, lost his post because he was half Jewish, but was later commissioned by the Nazis to sell works abroad. The discovered loot may show that Gurlitt in fact collected many of the artworks himself and managed to keep them throughout the war.
After the war, allied troops designated Gurlitt a victim of Nazi crimes. He reportedly said he had helped many Jewish Germans to fund their flight into exile, and that his entire art collection had been destroyed in the bombing of Dresden.

Huge hide of Nazi art plunder found - Magda Hassan - 04-11-2013

David Guyatt Wrote:According to the BBC news the father mentioned in the below article was part of a Nazi art dealer network centred in Bavaria and was personally engaged in the looting of art during the war.

The BBC expert who was interviewed adds that there are some additional important questions to be answered, including the fact that this horde was discovered two and a half years ago, but has been kept quiet by Bavarian authorities. The latter also haven't returned the art to respective owners who have been searching for it for 75 years.

All told there were 1500 paintings in the horde at a value of 1 billion euros.
Wow! Huge amount!

Quote:The works, which would originally have been confiscated as "degenerate art" by the Nazis or taken from Jewish collectors in the 1930s and 1940s, had made their way into the hands of a German art collector, Hildebrand Gurlitt.

The Nazis were perfectly aware of their value then and would not just confiscate them but sell them, mostly overseas, and keep the money.

Quote:Gurlitt, who had not previously been on the radar of the police, attracted the attention of the customs authorities only after a random cash check during a train journey from Switzerland to Munich in 2010, according to Focus.

What do they mean by a random cash check? Did his cash cheque bounce? Were they seeing how much cash every one had on the train? And why would that matter anyway? Confused...

Quote:Hildebrand Gurlitt, who had been a museum director in Zwickau until Hitler came to power, lost his post because he was half Jewish, but was later commissioned by the Nazis to sell works abroad. The discovered loot may show that Gurlitt in fact collected many of the artworks himself and managed to keep them throughout the war.
After the war, allied troops designated Gurlitt a victim of Nazi crimes. He reportedly said he had helped many Jewish Germans to fund their flight into exile, and that his entire art collection had been destroyed in the bombing of Dresden.

Clearly, money is color blind for some Nazis. He probably did help a few families but I think he charged a very high rate. I wonder if he claimed insurance for the loss of them in the bombing?

Huge hide of Nazi art plunder found - David Guyatt - 13-11-2013

Uh-oh. More plundered art found.

Quote:12 November 2013 Last updated at 13:23Share this page

German police check new art haul near Stuttgart

[Image: _71072213_gerartjointindex464.jpg]These are among the Munich trove: Otto Griebel's Child at a Table and Otto Dix's Lady in a Loge
Continue reading the main storyRelated Stories

Police and art experts are checking 22 artworks found in southwest Germany which may be linked to the huge hoard of art treasures seized in Munich.
The regional broadcaster SWR says most of the 22 works are valuable paintings. Some may have been looted by the Nazis.
On Saturday Paris Match magazine published a photo of a man alleged to be Cornelius Gurlitt, the Munich collector. He was spotted in Munich.
So far 25 of the Munich works have been listed on the website
Gurlitt connectionOn Saturday police in Baden-Wuerttemberg removed 22 artworks from a flat in Kornwestheim, a town near Stuttgart. They are now being examined at a secret location.
The flat belongs to an 80-year-old man, who is a brother-in-law of Cornelius Gurlitt and, like him, a former art collector.
Four of the paintings are believed to have been acquired from Mr Gurlitt, SWR says.
Stuttgart police said the 80-year-old was not suspected of any crime and had himself contacted the police to get his collection stored in a safe place. The intense media interest in the Gurlitt case had made him anxious, SWR reported.
More than 1,400 artworks were found at the Munich flat of Mr Gurlitt in March 2012.
The total value has been estimated at about 1bn euros (£846m; $1.35bn).
German authorities showed images of some of the works, by famous artists such as Marc Chagall, Otto Dix, Max Liebermann and Henri Matisse. But they have not yet published a full list and the officials stressed that a painstaking investigation is now under way.
Some of the Munich works may have been stolen from Jews and kept in Nazi collections during 1933-1945.


Huge hide of Nazi art plunder found - David Guyatt - 13-11-2013

Perhaps this would be the right time to speak of a story I was once told by a disillusioned cop.

This policemen had gone to a large country mansion on the borders of Suffolk and Essex, in the UK, investigating another incident. Inside the empty old mansion he found a large collection of artworks stacked around the rooms. The mansion was owned by a well known British high street charity, that had some interesting connections. The name of the charity was that of a person who worked for the Special Operations Executive in WWII.

The lady concerned went on to become a Baroness in the House of Lords. Her title, curiously, included Warsaw in Poland and the village of Cavendish in Suffolk. The latter is interesting, if for no other reason than Cavendish was the home of John Cavendish, the progenitor of the Duke of Devonshire. There is a lot of interesting history here. Again curiously, Anthony John Cavendish was a former MI6 officer and a member of Le Cercle - although not, apparently, related to the Duke of Devonshire - aka Peregrin Anthony Morny Cavendish.

Huge hide of Nazi art plunder found - Peter Lemkin - 13-11-2013

I had heard that the two stashes of art treasures were related and of about the same size and value [i.e. a total of ~2 Billion Euro or more!], that is real money. The report also said that as it usually takes years to decades for someone to prove ownership and fight it through court; and as most original owners are dead or will soon die; and as many of their family do not know exactly which paintings their parents or grandparents, etc. had - only that they had one from this painter or two from that...etc.....that it was likely some entity would set up a museum for all the unclaimed art - and remove and return as they are successfully reclaimed. The two year doing nothing [or was that 62 years?] does make one wonder what is really going on...and if even the museum will ever happen. The Amber Room, taken from Peterhof in Skt. Petersberg, is still missing - as are SO MANY other treasures of art and architecture. Someone has them. Like the Nazi and Japanese Gold.....the truth of how much, where, and who had control /HAS control is not for the public to know - or even know about.

Huge hide of Nazi art plunder found - David Guyatt - 15-11-2013

It's probably just me, but do I find there to be a curious double standard going on with the above story, as to the one below?

I do.

Not to mention plundering ancient treasures from Northern Iraq by German archeologists 100 years ago, as opposed to being plundered from Germany almost 70 years ago at the end of WWII.

What difference 30 years make...

Quote:Court rules 3,000-year-old gold relic to be returned to German museum

Family lore says Holocaust survivor, who brought the tablet when he settled in US, got it by trading cigarettes to a Russian soldier
[Image: 8e4a4fe8-3f1e-4046-bc57-3135a8211579-bes...lable.jpeg]The 3,200-year-old gold tablet at the center of a court case between a Holocaust survivor's family and a Berlin museum. Photo: NY Court of Appeals/AP

In a ruling rejecting any claims to the "spoils of war," New York's highest court concluded Thursday that an ancient gold tablet must be returned to the German museum that lost it in the Second world war.
The court of appeals unanimously agreed that Riven Flamenbaum's estate is not entitled to the 3,000-year-old Assyrian relic, a 9.5-gram (0.34oz) tablet nearly the size of a credit card.
"We decline to adopt any doctrine that would establish good title based upon the looting and removal of cultural objects during wartime by a conquering military force," the court said in a memorandum.
"The 'spoils of war' theory proffered by the estate that the Russian government, when it invaded Germany, gained title to the museum's property as a spoil of war, and then transferred that title to the decedent is rejected."
The tablet, inscribed with an exhortation to honor King Tukulti-Ninurta I, was excavated a century ago by German archaeologists from the Ishtar Temple in what's now northern Iraq. It went on display in 1934 and disappeared after the start of the war.
Flamenbaum, an Auschwitz survivor, brought the tablet to the United States when he settled in New York. Family lore says he got it by trading cigarettes to a Russian soldier.
The New York court also rejected the argument the Vorderasiatisches Museum, part of the renowned Pergamon Museum, waited too long more than 60 years before trying to reclaim it. A judge on Long Island said it had unreasonably delayed, but a midlevel court last year ruled the other way.
"New York has really affirmed its moral leadership in protecting true property owners," said museum attorney Raymond Dowd. "This decision makes it clear that the rule of finders keepers is not the law in New York."
The ruling should ensure the safe return of the tablet, Dowd said. The museum has many other pieces still missing since the war, he said, adding that some Holocaust groups filed a court brief supporting the museum's claim.
Calls to attorneys for the Flamenbaum family were not immediately returned Thursday.
According to court documents, the tablet dates to 1243 to 1207 BC, during Tukulti-Ninurta's reign. Placed in the foundation of the temple of the fertility goddess, its 21 lines call on those who find the temple to honor the king's name.
In 1945, the Berlin museum's premises was overrun, with many items taken by Russians, others by German troops and some pilfered by people who took shelter in the museum. The museum director was not in a position to say who took it, only that it disappeared.
It has been in a deposit box in New York.

Huge hide of Nazi art plunder found - Magda Hassan - 29-12-2013

Art Dealer to the Führer: Hildebrand Gurlitt's Deep Nazi Ties

[Image: image-583407-breitwandaufmacher-vtwy.jpg] [Image: but_foto_en_2_big.png]

Hildebrand Gurlitt, the man who assembled the astounding art collection recently discovered in a Munich apartment, was more deeply involved in the trade of looted artworks than had been previously assumed. He also profited from Nazi injustices after the war.

The Americans moved in from the west around noon. There were two tanks, followed by infantry soldiers, their weapons at the ready.

There are people in Aschbach, a village in the Upper Franconia region of Bavaria, who remember April 14, 1945 very clearly. They were children then, helping out in the fields as the soldiers marched past. They remember that some of the men had dark skin and gave them chewing gum. At the time, Aschbach was a town of a few hundred residents, complete with a castle on a hill that belonged to the aristocratic Pölnitz family. The castle, its façade covered in brownish plaster overgrown with wild grape vines, was part of an estate that included a lake and several hundred hectares of forest. It still stands on the outskirts of Aschbach today, a fairytale castle in Franconia.
During those last days of World War II, Aschbach residents hung white sheets from their windows and were later registered by the American soldiers. The Americans arrested local Nazi Party leader Baron Gerhard von Pölnitz. The residents who were registered included a man named Karl Haberstock, who appeared on a wanted list of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the CIA. Haberstock, an art dealer, had been living in the castle with his wife for several months.
The American army had a special unit to handle such cases, the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section. Their job was to search for art stolen by the Nazis.
Monuments Men
When Captain Robert K. Posey and his assistant, Private Lincoln Kirstein, known as "Monuments Men," inspected the castle in early May they found an enormous art warehouse. It contained paintings and sculptures from the museum in nearby Bamberg and a picture gallery in the central German city of Kassel, whose directors had sought to protect the works from Allied bombs. They also discovered suspicious private property, some 13 crates of artworks marked as belonging to Heribert Fütterer, the commander of the German Air Force division for Bohemia and Moravia. The estate chapel contained suitcases and bags full of art, which Ewald von Kleist, the former commander of Army Group A of the Wehrmacht, had left there. Captain Posey declared the estate a restricted area and had signs reading "Off Limits" posted at the property.
A few days later, a Monuments Man noted: "In addition, rooms containing paintings, tapestries, statues, valuable furniture and documents from the belongings of two notorious German art dealers were found in the castle." They were the collections of Karl Haberstock and a certain Hildebrand Gurlitt, who had also lived in the castle with his family since their house in Dresden was burned down.
A note dated May 16 reads: "A large room on the upper floor with 34 boxes, two packages containing carpets, eight packages of books … one room on the ground floor containing an additional 13 boxes owned by Mr. Gurlitt." Most of these boxes contained pictures and drawings.
'Connections Within High-Level Nazi Circles'
In the following months and years, the American art investigators wrote letters, memos, inventory lists, reports and dossiers to clear up the origins of the art. With regard to Haberstock, they wrote: "Mr. Karl Haberstock, from Berlin, is the most notorious art collector in Europe. He was Hitler's private art collector and, for years, seized art treasures in France, Holland, Belgium and even Switzerland and Italy, using illegal, unscrupulous and even brutal methods. His name is infamous among all honest collectors in Europe."
Gurlitt, they wrote, was "an art collector from Hamburg with connections within high-level Nazi circles. He acted on behalf of other Nazi officials and made many trips to France, from where he brought home art collections. There is reason to believe that these private art collections consist of looted art from other countries." For the Monuments Men, Gurlitt was also an "art dealer to the Führer."
Now, almost 70 years later, what the Monuments Men discovered at Aschbach Castle in May 1945 has shown a spotlight on Germany's past once again. Customs officials found an enormous treasure trove of artworks from the Third Reich in an apartment in Munich's Schwabing district. It includes 380 pictures that the Nazis had dubbed "degenerate art" in 1937 and removed from museums. The Schwabing find also included 590 other artworks that the Nazi regime and its henchmen may have stolen from Jewish owners. The owner of the apartment is Gurlitt's son Cornelius, the current heir of the collection, who was 12 and living in Aschbach at the end of the war.
Consequences of Munich Discovery
With the origins of the individual pictures still unclear, a task force appointed by the German government is investigating the history of each artwork. It will be a lengthy effort. But a search performed by SPIEGEL staff, in such places as the French Foreign Ministry archives and the National Museum in Wroclaw, Poland, has revealed the substantial extent to which Gurlitt dealt in looted art and how ruthless his practices were.
A Hollywood film about the Monuments Men will be screened for the first time at next year's Berlin Film Festival. George Clooney produced and directed the film, in addition to playing the main role: a US soldier who is part of a special unit made up of art historians, museum experts and other assistants, whose mission is to recover art stolen by the Nazis and rescue it from destruction in the final days of the war. Apparently the film depicts the historical events with some degree of accuracy.
But perhaps what happened in Aschbach in those last few days of the war and the first few months of peace would make for a more interesting film: an enchanted castle in Upper Franconia owned by a baron who had joined the Nazis, and who served during the war in Paris, where he worked with art dealers with dubious reputations, some of whom he eventually harbored in his castle near the end of the ill-fated Third Reich.
It would be a film about the country's elites, who benefited from the crimes of the Nazis, a story about culprits who quickly transformed themselves into supposedly upstanding citizens and, in a new Germany, became the pillars of society once again.
In a bizarre twist, for several months after the war Schloss Aschbach housed a group of young Jews who had survived the Holocaust. Ironically they, and not the Nazi baron, lived in the castle's elegant rooms before leaving the land of the Shoah for good. But more on that later.
'Extremely Nervous'
The Monuments Men questioned Hildebrand Gurlitt in Aschbach in June 1945. They noticed that he seemed "extremely nervous" and noted it seemed as if he were not telling the whole truth. It was during those days that Gurlitt, the "art dealer to the Führer," reinvented himself: as a victim of the Nazis, a man who had saved precious artworks from destruction and someone who had never done anything malicious.
Of course, not everything Gurlitt told the Americans was false. He pointed out that the Nazis classified him as a "mongrel," because of his Jewish grandmother, and that he had feared for his future and even his life after 1933, which led him to cooperate. As Gurlitt stated during the three-day interrogation, there was a risk that he, as a so-called quarter-Jew, would be drafted into forced labor for the Todt Organization, a Third Reich civil and military engineering group. Gurlitt also said: "I had to decide between the war and the work for museums. I never bought a picture that wasn't offered to me voluntarily. As I heard, laws were also enacted in France so that Jewish art collections could be confiscated. But I never saw it with my own eyes."
The Monuments Men in Aschbach felt that Haberstock was the more egregious criminal. He was taken into investigative custody in May 1945, and in August he was brought to Altaussee in Austria, where all those who were viewed as truly serious art criminals were required to testify near a salt mine filled with artworks. Gurlitt was allowed to stay in Aschbach.
Haberstock later told German officials that the Americans had underestimated Gurlitt's role during the Nazi period. In a 1949 letter to a government official, he wrote: "I was able to prove everything, including, for example, that I was not the main supplier for Linz, whereas Mr. Voss, during his short term in office, bought about 3,000 artworks and took over confiscated collections together with his main buyer, Dr. Hildebrand Gurlitt."
Linz was to be the site of Hitler's massive Führer museum. It was never built, and yet the Nazis bought enough art to fill three museums. Hermann Voss, a museum director from Wiesbaden who had also run a museum in Dresden, ran the art-buying program from 1943 onward. From then on, Gurlitt worked for Hitler through Voss, who served as a middleman. He also bought art for German museums that had been brought into line by the regime, as well as for private citizens like Hamburg cigarette manufacturer Hermann F. Reemtsma, Hanover chocolate magnate Bernhard Sprengel and Cologne lawyer Josef Haubrich.
Gurlitt's Early Career
In 1930, art historian Gurlitt was removed from his post as director of the museum in the eastern city of Zwickau, because he was viewed as a champion of modern art. He went to Hamburg, where he ran the city's Kunstverein art museum, until he was fired once again over his preference for the avant-garde, as well as his Jewish grandmother.
Gurlitt remained in Hamburg, where he became an art dealer and opened a gallery. At the time, the kind of modern art he had consistently supported had become a risky business. Gurlitt increasingly bought and sold older, more traditional art. He had a knack for the business, developing relationships with collectors and finding ways to gain access to pictures. Before long, he was buying art from people who were being persecuted, mainly Jews, who sold their art because they were being forced to flee Germany, had lost their jobs and needed money to feed their families, or were being required to pay the so-called "Jewish wealth levy." Through middlemen, Gurlitt also bought art that had been seized by the Gestapo.

One of the paintings the Monuments Men found in Aschbach Castle, in a crate Gurlitt had marked with the number 36, was by the Bulgarian painter Jules Pascin, born in 1885. It depicts two women, one nude and another wearing a shirt, and a man. They seem to be strangers, and they are not looking at each other -- a metaphor for the bleakness of life. Pascin painted it in Paris in 1909 and called it "The Studio of the Painter Grossmann." He committed suicide in 1930. Gurlitt told the Americans that the painting had belonged to his father, who had bought it before the Nazis came into power. In fact, Gurlitt bought the Pascin in 1935 for 600 Reichsmark, significantly less than it was worth, from Julius Ferdinand Wollf, the longstanding editor-in-chief of a Dresden newspaper, the Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten. Wollf was a passionately ethical and respected journalist, until the Nazis forced him out of office in 1933. Because of his Jewish background, he soon lost his assets and the SS laid waste to his apartment. In 1942, shortly before his scheduled deportation to a concentration camp, he took his own life, together with his wife and his brother.
After initially confiscating the painting, the Americans returned it to Gurlitt in 1950. It must have been sold later. In 1969, at any rate, it was included in several exhibitions, on loan from a French family of collectors. In 1972, it was sold at auction at Christie's in London for almost $40,000 (€29,000). The work later turned up in Chicago.

Part 2: 'Degenerate Art' a Lucrative Export
Gurlitt became the official dealer in "degenerate art," the modern works that were no longer deemed acceptable in the Third Reich. He was expected to sell the works abroad to bring in hard currency. He also continued his dealings in older art. On Dec. 4, 1938, he acquired drawings by the 19th-century painter Adolf Menzel. They had belonged to a Jewish doctor in Hamburg, Ernst Julius Wolffson, who had a practice on Rothenbaumchaussee, a street in an upscale neighborhood, and was the chairman of the medical association.
Wolffson was deprived of his reputation and stripped of his positions after 1933, and his medical license was revoked in 1938. He was imprisoned at Sachsenhausen concentration camp, but he was subsequently released when influential Hamburg residents spoke out on his behalf. A family man, he had no income and no insurance when he was ordered to pay the "Jewish wealth levy" in 1938. Gurlitt paid him 2,550 Reichmark, far below the market price, for nine Menzel drawings. Art historian Maike Bruhns discovered that Hamburg industrialist Hermann F. Reemtsma, one of Gurlitt's regular customers, had bought two of the drawings.
After the war, the Wolffson family's attorney demanded the return of the drawings, but Gurlitt refused to provide any information about the buyers. In 1993, two of the works in the Wolffson collection were included in a memorial exhibition titled "Works of Art that Affect Me. The Collector Hermann F. Reemtsma."
Dealing in Wartime
Gurlitt remained in Hamburg until 1942. In the first years of the war, at the height of Germany's military successes, Gurlitt expanded his territory to include Holland, Belgium and France. When bombs destroyed his gallery on the Alster Lake in Hamburg, Gurlitt took his wife and their two children to Dresden to live in his parents' house. From there, he established a relationship with Cornelius Müller Hofstede, who headed the Silesian Museum in Breslau (now called Wroclaw), where he appraised the collections of persecuted Jews and sold the confiscated paintings on the market. Müller Hofstede ordered paintings picked up from Jewish homes and, using an obsequious tone, wrote to Gurlitt to offer him the works. He also mentioned that he was even willing to come to Dresden to "present" the pictures to Gurlitt. His letter ended with the words "Heil Hitler!"
It was also Müller Hofstede who obtained the Max Liebermann painting "Two Riders on the Beach" for Gurlitt. A few weeks ago, the work was one of the first pictures from the confiscated Gurlitt collection in Munich to be shown at a press conference. The Nazis had confiscated it from sugar refiner David Friedmann, who died in 1942. Friedmann's daughter was killed in a concentration camp in 1943.
Like Müller Hofstede in Breslau, Voss, the coordinator for the Linz special project, had assisted the Gestapo and, as a "police expert," had appraised Jewish collections. He would go into the homes of the persecuted and pick out pieces for his museum. He was traveling a great deal in 1943, to Berlin, Basel and Breslau. According to this travel notes, he met with "A.H. in the Führer's building" on a February night in Munich. He also attended questionable auctions and went to Vienna and Linz. But he did not go to Paris, because Gurlitt was there on his behalf.
Shady Circles, Piles of Cash
Gurlitt had made his first purchases by 1941, one year after the German invasion of France. The fact that the paintings came from France increased their value. Many German museum directors longed to go to France, and the country was also a place Gurlitt loved. Important French collections were confiscated, or their owners were forced into selling at ridiculously low prices. Gurlitt apparently surrounded himself with a group of shady members of the art world, including agents, informers and other dealers. He was in great demand, because he had millions of Reichsmark to spend.
Gurlitt was now making regular trips to Paris. And contrary to his later assertions, he did not stay in modest guesthouses but in grand hotels or the apartment of a mistress. The three men who would later come together at Aschbach Castle also met in Paris. Under Voss's predecessor, art dealer Haberstock had been one of the preferred buyers for the future Hitler museum. He stayed at the Ritz, and he would announce his upcoming visits to Paris in an art magazine. He also handed out cards indicating that he was looking for "first class pictures" by old masters.
Baron Gerhard von Pölnitz, the lord of the manor in Aschbach, was stationed in Paris during those years, as an officer in the German Air Force. In his free time, he worked for Haberstock and Gurlitt, setting up deals and serving as their representative. Jane Weyll, one of Haberstock's employees, became the baron's mistress.
There is a report by French art historian Michel Martin about Hildebrand Gurlitt in the French Foreign Ministry archive. During the occupation period, Martin worked in the paintings department at the Louvre, where he issued export permits for artworks. Gurlitt, Martin wrote, had access to "constantly expanding credit" and had acquired works worth a total of "400 to 500 million francs."
Whenever Gurlitt returned to Germany, he brought along photographs of selected paintings to show museum staff. According to Martin's account, he also acquired works for his private collection in Paris. "As soon as Gurlitt encountered our resistance to his art exports, he would pick up artworks without our permission, or he would get help from the German Embassy. Gurlitt took important artworks out of the country against our will."
'Merely an Official'
Martin also wrote that he had believed Gurlitt when he said that he did "not wish to deal in artworks that came from Jewish collections." Apparently Gurlitt also insisted that he was "merely an official" acting on orders from above.
Pölnitz, Haberstock and Gurlitt met again at Aschbach Castle at the end of the war. Haberstock, who the Americans eventually turned over to the German courts, was later exonerated. He worked as an art dealer in Munich after the war and died in 1956, the same year as his competitor Gurlitt.
After the war ended, Baron von Pölnitz was taken to an internment camp in Moosburg in Upper Bavaria from which he was released in 1947. His denazification file has disappeared. He died in 1962 at the age of 64.
The Americans placed Gurlitt under house arrest in Aschbach. To occupy his time, he gave talks on Dürer and Barlach, and kitsch in religious art, to the small local church congregation. Otherwise, he wrote letters attempting to justify his purchases in France.
In a 1947 letter to Madame Rose Valland, a French art historian who was in charge of restitutions, he insisted that he had been a "genuine friend of France and a true opponent of the Nazi regime," one who, "in speech and writing," had "always championed French art." It was only "strange coincidences" that had made it possible "for me to save myself by going to France as an art dealer." He made no mention of his work for the Führer museum in Linz.
Putting the Past Behind Him
Gurlitt's house arrest was lifted, and in January 1948 he moved to Düsseldorf, where he became the director of that city's Kunstverein museum. He promptly declared his years in Aschbach as "part of the past," but he also noted that life there was "quite pleasant and peaceful."
In 1950, Gurlitt's art was restored to him from the archive of seized property known as the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point. He had already been acquitted of all charges. The Americans had confiscated a total of 140 works. But Gurlitt had also hidden a portion of his collection from the Americans in an old water mill, which he then recovered.
Gurlitt was a respected member of society once again, gaining the support of Düsseldorf industrialists by featuring their art collections in exhibitions. At the same time, he began showing his own collection again, cleansing it of its past associations in the process. In 1953, he was appointed to an honorary committee overseeing an exhibition of German art in Lucerne, Switzerland, sponsored by Germany's then-President Theodor Heuss. A few of the pictures were from Gurlitt's collection, including a painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner ("Two Female Nudes") and a watercolor by Franz Marc ("Large Horse").
Part of Gurlitt's purpose in showing the paintings was probably to assess whether there would be any objections or claims from the true owners. A year later, he presented an exhibition titled "Works of French Painting and the Graphic Arts" at Villa Hügel in the western city of Essen: paintings by French Impressionists like Paul Signac, Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas, which would be worth several million euros today, including a view of the Waterloo Bridge by Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet's "Landscape with Rocks." Their whereabouts are as unclear today as their origins.

Part 3: Final Years and Tall Tales
Finally, in 1956, the year of his death, Gurlitt sent pictures from his collection to New York, including works by Max Beckmann and Vassily Kandinsky. He wrote a biographical sketch for the catalog, but it was never published. In the piece, Gurlitt described himself as courageous and bold, a hero whose dealings during the war were a "dangerous balancing act," and who had nothing left to his name but a pushcart filled with necessities after the bombing of Dresden. His account sounded almost like the story of the Kaims, a Jewish couple from Breslau who sold Gurlitt one of their paintings, lost everything and were sent to the ghetto pushing a handcart.
Gurlitt died after a car accident in 1956. In his obituaries, he was celebrated as an important figure in the postwar West German art world. His widow Helene moved to Munich in the early 1960s, where she bought two expensive apartments in a new building in Schwabing. In May 1960, she had four works from her husband's collection sold by the Ketterer Kunst auction house, including Beckmann's "Bar, Brown," which belongs to a US museum today, and a painting of playwright Bertolt Brecht by Rudolf Schlichter, which ended up in Munich's Lenbachhaus. The painting, an important work from the New Objectivity movement, is now one the museum's best-known works.
The Schlichter work was also among the paintings the Monuments Men had found in Aschbach. One of their German colleagues there, who later became the director of the Lenbachhaus, bought the work in the 1960 Ketterer auction.
There are many examples of works that Gurlitt acquired under questionable circumstances. There are also a number of pictures hanging in German museums today, from Hanover to Wiesbaden, that were bought from Gurlitt. There are even pictures that Gurlitt bought for Hitler's museum in Linz, which, because of their unclear origins, became the property of the state. One such painting, a landscape by the classicist painter Jakob Philipp Hackert, hangs in the German Foreign Ministry today.
Several paintings turned up in art galleries. One was August Macke's "Woman with Parrot," an early work of German Cubism. It was shown in exhibitions in 1962 and later in 2001, in each case as part of a private collection. In 2007, the work was sold at auction in Berlin's Villa Grisebach auction house for more than €2 million. Gurlitt's daughter Benita had apparently delivered the painting. She died in May 2012.
'Jewish Occupation of the Castle'
In November 1945, the Americans established a Camp for Displaced Persons in Aschbach Castle. They were traumatized survivors of the Holocaust, many less than 20 years old, who had spent their youth in Jewish ghettos and concentration camps. They had lost their families, and when the war ended they left the camps in groups. They were young Jews with names like Tovia, Menachim, Minia and Zynia, and many were Zionists who had come together to establish a kibbutz.
More than 140 individuals were housed in Aschbach between November 1945 and March 1948, although, at first, the Americans did not think the young Jews capable of farming the fields on the estate. There was hardly any contact between village residents and the Jews, even though a Jewish community had been established in Aschbach in the early 18[SUP]th[/SUP] century. The last Aschbach Jews were deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942.
Gurlitt did not mention the Jews in the castle. He kept his own children, who were only a few years younger than many of the survivors, away from Aschbach, sending his son and daughter to the elite Odenwaldschule boarding school.
The Pölnitz family, whom the Americans ordered to vacate their estate, moved into a teacher's apartment in the village. They were concerned that the residents of the camp would not treat their furniture with care. In a letter to the authorities, Baron von Pölnitz complained that "the Jews" were appropriating his property in a "wild frenzy" -- and that his wife had fainted because of the "Jewish occupation of the castle."
Yehiel Hershkowitz was one of the Jews who lived in Aschbach at the time. He was 27 when he arrived at the castle on Nov. 20, 1945. His family was from Bedzin, a town in the Silesian Highlands of southern Poland that was known as Bendsburg during its Nazi occupation from 1939-1945. Hershkowitz was arrested in September 1939 and spent the next six years in 15 Nazi camps. He was freed when American soldiers liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 11, 1945.
He and his second wife, Esther Urman, met in Aschbach and then traveled to Israel together. Hershkowitz died in 1979, and his wife died 11 years later.
Their son Benny is now 65 and lives near Tel Aviv. He says that his father had trouble sleeping, because he was kept awake at night by the memories of Nazi Germany.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

Huge hide of Nazi art plunder found - David Guyatt - 31-12-2013


This story is slowly beginning to take on more signficance. Let's hope things keep on unfolding...

From Reuters.


Nazi-looted art found in German parliament - report

BERLIN Mon Dec 30, 2013 7:30pm GMT

(Reuters) - An art historian has found two art works stolen by the Nazis inside Germany's parliament, a newspaper reported on Monday, in a new embarrassment for authorities after a huge stash of looted art came to light last month.
The Bundestag, in a statement issued after the report in Bild newspaper, said an art historian was reviewing two "suspicious cases", but a spokesman would not confirm the find.
The art historian's investigations into the German parliament's art collection, which began in 2012, were continuing, the Bundestag spokesman said.
"It is unclear when there will be a result to the investigations," he said.
Last month German authorities revealed that a trove of Nazi-looted art, valued at 1 billion euros ($1.38 billion), had been found in a Munich apartment.
That collection had been held for decades by Cornelius Gurlitt, the elderly son of an art dealer of part-Jewish descent who was ordered by Hitler to buy up so-called 'degenerate art' and sell it to raise funds for the Nazis.
Bild newspaper said one of the two works discovered in the Bundestag collection had also originally belonged to the Gurlitt family.
Bild said the two works were an oil painting, 'Chancellor Buelow speaking in the Reichstag', by Georg Waltenberger dated 1905, and a chalk lithography entitled 'Street in Koenigsberg' by Lovis Corinth.
The Nazis plundered hundreds of thousands of art works from museums and individuals across Europe. An unknown number of works is still missing and museums around the world have conducted investigations into the origins of their exhibits.
German authorities came under fire for keeping quiet for two years about the discovery of Gurlitt's trove of 1,406 European art works which included works by Picasso and Matisse.
The legal status of the hoard is unclear. Gurlitt has demanded his art back and lawyers working on reclaiming property for heirs to Jewish collectors say he may get to keep at least some.
The Bundestag's art collection comprises around 4,000 works and Bild said investigations had found some 108 pieces so far of unknown provenance.
About four years ago, it returned a portrait of former German chancellor Otto von Bismarck in a hat by Franz von Lenbach to its original owners after it was found to have been stolen by the Nazis.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany called for a list of the Bundestag's art works to be published.
"If the Bundestag is keeping lists of its collection secret, hindering the press in its investigations, protecting the perpetrators of Ayranisation and not informing the heirs, I would wish those responsible to show more sensibility and tact," Council President Dieter Graumann told Bild.
($1 = 0.7258 euros)
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Susan Fenton)