Museum must return Nazi-looted art
Saturday 17 March 2012
A Berlin museum must return thousands of rare posters to the American descendant of a Jew whose collection was seized by the Nazis, Germany's most senior court ruled yesterday.
The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe said Peter Sachs, 74, was the rightful owner of posters owned by his father Hans, ending seven years of legal battles over a vast collection dating back to the late 19th century. Mr Sachs can now demand their return from the German Historical Museum. The collection is believed to be worth between €4.5m (£3.75m) and €16m (£13.3m). "It feels like vindication for my father, a final recognition of the life he lost and never got back," said Mr Sachs, who lives in Nevada.
The posters collected by his father were stolen by the Gestapo, held by communist East Germany for decades, then moved to the Berlin museum after reunification in 1990. The court acknowledged that Mr Sachs did not file for restitution of the posters by the official deadline for such claims, and that the post-war restitution rules instituted by Western Allies could not be specifically applied in his case.
But the judges ruled that the spirit of the law was clearly on Mr Sachs's side. Not to return the posters "would perpetuate Nazi injustice", the judges wrote in their ruling.
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