Press Releases

Global Catalogue of Nazi looted art records published online in world first - CLAE and National Archives UK Joint Press Release:


 **EMBARGOED TILL 16.00 5 May 2011**

The National Archive logo         Commission For Looted Art logo

Global Catalogue of Nazi looted art records published online in world first

“Use every means of transport to get all works of art out of Florence …. saving works of art from English and Americans. In fine get anything away that you can get hold of.
Heil Hitler.”

 Heinrich Himmler (HW1/3113)

The National Archives and the Commission for Looted Art in Europe today signed a global agreement in Washington DC with leading national archives and museums, to provide an international online catalogue of documentation on looted cultural artefacts to aid historians, researchers and families trace the history and provenance of objects taken by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945.

The project is designed to extend public access to all records related to looted cultural artefacts by cataloguing and digitising the archival materials and making them available through a single international research web portal hosted by the US National Archives and Records Administration.

Signing the global agreement on behalf of The National Archives, Oliver Morley, Chief Executive and Keeper said: “It’s a privilege to be involved in this unique global collaboration - working together with leading archives throughout the world to make these records more accessible on an international scale. By digitising and linking archival records online, researchers will be able to piece together the stories of what became of cultural objects, be they books, paintings, sculpture, jewellery or any other stolen artefacts from evidence fragmented across borders and languages.”
 
Signing the global agreement on behalf of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, Anne Webber, Co-Chair, said: “We are very pleased to be part of this extremely important project which will help researchers and families in identifying, documenting and recovering looted cultural property. For the first time in searching for the many thousands of still missing objects it will be possible to trace their fate online through these records which provide the names of victims, perpetrators, artists and works of art.  The records and history they represent have never been made internationally available before and this project represents a major step forward in international cooperation to help resolve these long outstanding issues.”   

The records encompass different aspects of the organisation of the Nazi plundering, the methods of disposal of the looted artworks and the efforts to identify, recover and restitute them made by governments and other agencies during and after the Second World War. 
 
Created through collaboration between national archives and expert organisations in Belgium, France, Germany, Ukraine, the UK and USA, the project will enable families to research their losses, provenance researchers to locate important documentation, and historians to study newly accessible materials on the history of this period.
 
The official signing of the agreement comes ahead of a two day international conference on provenance research held at The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington DC.
 
Each member organisation has identified key groups of relevant records among its holdings. The National Archives has worked in partnership with the Commission for Looted Art in Europe to catalogue and digitise over 950 files from its collection.  The Commission provided the expert knowledge and selected, described and provided the written introduction to the records.  The National Archives has digitised the selected records and is hosting and delivering both the textual descriptions and new colour images of the records themselves through its website.
 
The records, dating from 1939 to 1961, range from seizure orders, inventories and images of looted works of art, field reports and claim forms for seized property to interrogation reports of art dealers and reports of the transfer of looted artworks to neutral countries. All the original British government files have been newly scanned in colour and will be searchable by name, place, subject and date thanks to detailed descriptions which will make searching these records more straightforward, user-friendly and productive.
 
The files document the systematic looting of Jewish households by Nazi agencies, Hitler’s plans to establish a Führermuseum with the seized art in his hometown of Linz and the role played by art dealers in securing and trading looted artworks in Nazi-occupied Europe and beyond.
 
Highlights from the files identified by the Commission for Looted Art in Europe include:
·         Hitler’s plans to establish a Führermuseum with the seized art in his hometown of Linz (T209/29)
·         A collection of photographs of artworks  which were looted by the Nazis from Italian and French public and private collections and retrieved by the Allies in 1945 (T 209/31);
·         The summer 1945 interrogation reports of prominent art dealers involved in the seizure and trading of looted artworks (T 209/29)
·         Details of repositories of looted cultural property discovered as the Allies advanced into Europe over the spring and summer of 1945, including the Alt Aussee salt mines in Austria, containing over 6,000 paintings destined for the Linz museum, and the Alto Adige repositories in Italy, containing the works of art from the Florence public galleries removed in July 1944 (T 209/27);
·         Records of the Macmillan Committee (1944-1946), a specialist advisory body to the British government established to support the post-war restitution process (T 209/1-39);
·         Reports of the work of the Inter-Allied Vaucher Commission (1944-1945) which, acting on information supplied by different national commissions, operated as a central bureau in London for information on looted objects (T209/5)
·         Looted works of art transferred to Switzerland and efforts to persuade the Swiss government to prevent the concealment of looted works of art found on Swiss territory (T 209/25)
 
 
Notes to Editors
For interviews with The National Archives or with the Commission for Looted Art in Europe or for images please contact either The National Archives press office on 0208 392 5277 or via email on press@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk, or Rosie Razzall for the Commission on 020 7487 3401 or via email on rosierazzall@lootedartcommission.com
 
About The National Archives
The National Archives, www.nationalarchives.gov.uk, is a government department and an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). As the official archives of the UK government, it cares for, makes available and ‘brings alive’ a vast collection of over 1000 years of historical records, including the treasured Domesday Book.
 
Not only safeguarding historical information, The National Archives also manages current digital information and devises new technological solutions for keeping government records readable now and in the future. It provides world class research facilities and expert advice, publishes all UK legislation and official publications, and is a leading advocate for the archive sector.
 
At the heart of information policy, The National Archives sets standards of best practice that actively promotes and encourages public access to, and the re-use of information, both online or onsite at Kew. This work helps inform today’s decisions and ensures that they become tomorrow’s permanent record.
 
About the Commission for Looted Art in Europe
The Commission for Looted Art in Europe, www.lootedartcommission.com, is an international, expert and non-profit representative body based in London.  It negotiates restitution policies and procedures, works to ensure the widest access to records and information of the period, and promotes the identification of looted cultural property and the tracing of its rightful owners.  It researches, identifies and recovers cultural property looted during the Nazi era on behalf of families, institutions and governments worldwide, and has recovered over 3,500 items since it was founded in 1999.

The Central Registry of Information on Looted Cultural Property 1933-1945, www.lootedart.com, is the Commission’s research arm.  An international research centre and online repository of information on Nazi art looting and restitution, it was set up to fulfil Washington Principle V1 on the creation of a central registry of information in this subject.  It provides detailed online research, up-to-date news and information from 48 countries and an online database of over 25,000 objects looted, missing and of uncertain provenance from 12 countries.  The Registry is a charitable body, operating under the auspices of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, an independent unit of Oxford University.
 
The Project
The Project was established to fulfill the 1998 Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, the 2000 Vilnius Forum Declaration and the 2009 Terezin Declaration, in particular on the importance of making all such records publicly accessible.
 
The other organisations collaborating in this project are:
United States National Archives and Records Administration (NARA);
Bundesarchiv (The German National Archives)
France Diplomatie: Diplomatic Archive Center of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs
Central State Archive of Supreme Bodies of Power and Government of Ukraine (TsDAVO)
State Archives in Belgium
Claims Conference (Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany)
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum)
Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris
National Gallery of Art, Washington (U.S.)
 

Issue date: 6th May 2011

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National Archives and Partners Launch New International Nazi-Era Records Internet Portal : US National Archives Press Release

Press Release
May 5, 2011

National Archives and Partners Launch New International Nazi-Era Records Internet Portal

Records related to Nazi-era cultural property available online for first time

Twitter icon Suggested Tweet:  National Archives launches online Nazi-era records portal. Info on Nazi-era assets now a mouse click away:  http://go.usa.gov/bwI

Facebook icon Suggested Facebook Post:  National Archives and partners launch new international Nazi-era records Internet portal. Records related to Nazi-era cultural property available online for first time at: http://go.usa.gov/bwI.

Washington, DC…The National Archives and its partners today launched an international Nazi-era assets related records database – making millions of records related to Nazi-era cultural property available online for the first time.

A National Archives signing ceremony today launched the new database, providing digital access to millions of Nazi-era cultural property–related records through a single Internet portal for the first time. The portal extends public access to the widely dispersed records that will enable families and institutions to research their losses, provenance researchers to locate important documentation, and historians to study newly accessible materials on the history of this period.

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero heralded this important development:

At the forefront of Holocaust restitution research efforts for over 15 years, the U.S. National Archives has strived to identify its records and to make them widely available and accessible to all. I am pleased to announce our most exciting achievement yet: researchers from all over the world will now be able to use a single point of entry to gain digital access to these widely dispersed archival materials. Heading up this internet portal is just the latest move in a long series by the U.S. National Archives to bring this long-hidden era to light.

Records in the U.S. National Archives have been used to determine the extent of Nazi looting of monetary gold and the extent to which that gold was recovered by the Allies and restituted. Such records have been used in determining what works of art were confiscated and looted by the Nazis and where the unrecovered artworks may now be located. These records have been used to identify dormant bank accounts in the United States and abroad, and insurance policies that were never claimed. In addition, they have been used to determine the amount of non-monetary gold (dental gold, for example) that the Nazis took from their victims. In these ways as in many others, National Archives holdings are important to establish facts that enable histories to be written, lawsuits pursued, and the truth uncovered. National Archives experts have testified on Capitol Hill and spoken at seminars and conferences worldwide about these records and what they reveal.

To assist researchers, in 1996 the National Archives prepared its first finding aid to relevant Holocaust assets-related records in Archives holdings. The initial guide was 3 pages, but as new records were discovered it grew exponentially, topping out at over 1,100 pages – an authoritative guide to over 15 million pages of Holocaust-era assets records at the National Archives created or received by over 30 Federal agencies. Holocaust-Era Assets: A Finding Aid to Records at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland is online [www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/finding-aid/].

It started in March 1996 with investigations looking into looted gold and Jewish bank accounts. In 1997 art works and insurance, and non-monetary gold [that is, victims' gold from the death camps, such as dental gold], and the role of the Vatican were added; in 1998 slave labor, alleged American and foreign bank misdeeds; looted archives and libraries; and Jewish communal and religious property were being studied. Research then broadened to encompass looted diamonds and securities, as well as the role of American corporations in their dealings with the Nazis.

Since March 1996, the National Archives at College Park, Maryland has been visited and/or contacted by thousands researchers interested in records relating to Holocaust-Era assets. Many of those researchers have spent weeks, months, and even years at Archives II going through millions of documents. Foreign researchers and representatives of a dozen foreign commissions looking into their countries' handling of victim assets found the National Archives an important resource to supplement the information available in the archival records in their own countries. Representatives of foreign banks, governments, archives, museums, and corporations have also come to do research.

Growing out of the desire to declassify still-classified government records, Congress in October 1998 enacted the Nazi War Crimes Records Disclosure Act of 1998. This law required Federal agencies, including the National Archives, to review and recommend for declassification records relating to Nazi war crimes, Nazi war criminals, Nazi persecution, and Nazi looted assets. The National Archives was asked to chair the multi-agency Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG). The IWG’s mandate was to identify and declassify as much as possible the remaining classified U.S. government records about war criminals and crimes committed by the Nazis and their allies during World War II. By the time the IWG work ended in 2007, over 10 million pages were declassified and made publicly available.

Then Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat noted in his keynote address at the National Archives Symposium on Holocaust-Era Assets Records and Research, December 4, 1998:

It is truly remarkable to reflect on the sheer amount of research that is being conducted and the new archival sources that has been unearthed in just the past few years… I am particularly proud to say that our country was a leader in this effort to advance the process of archival research…The National Archives…has become a focal point of research, scholarship, and remembrance into the issues surrounding Holocaust-era assets… The National Archives can be proud of the positive role it has played both in bringing justice, however belated, to the survivors and memory to the deceased.

By the end of 1998, the importance of archives as a result of Holocaust-Era Assets research had been clearly demonstrated. U.S. News & World Report noted that "since 1996, when the Holocaust restitution effort gained new momentum" archival institutions "have become drivers of world events. Their contents have forced apologies from governments, opened long-dormant bank accounts, unlocked the secrets of art museums, and compelled corporations to defend their reputations."

Records from the U.S. National Archives in Nazi-Era Records Internet Portal

The records available through the Portal from the U.S. National Archives include over 2.3 million pages of documents created or received by the U.S. Government during and after World War II as part of its investigations into cultural assets that were looted or otherwise lost during the war. These records document the activities of several U.S. Government agencies involved in the identification and recovery of looted assets, including the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and U.S. occupation forces in Germany and Austria. The materials also contain captured German records regarding the seizure of cultural property, such as the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) card file and related photographs. The records have been digitized and made available online by Footnote.com through a partnership agreement with the National Archives. The records are primarily in English, although some seized records are in German or other languages. There are no privacy or other access restrictions on the records.

See more information on Holocaust-era records at the U.S. National Archives [www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/].
See an extensive finding aid to these materials [www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/finding-aid/].
See a guide for available microfilm [www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/microfilm-publications/].

The National Archives online Archival Research Catalog (ARC) provides a description of many of these records [www.archives.gov/research/arc/topics/holocaust/series.html]. From the ARC description, click on the URL provided in the “online resource” section to be directed to the digitized records on Footnote.com. The digitized records on Footnote.com are available free in all National Archives research rooms and many large libraries, or for a fee by subscription. In recognition of the importance of these materials and this new international portal, Footnote.com will make all of their Holocaust-era records freely accessible for the entire month of May.

Issue date: 5th May 2011

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National Archives and Its Partners Launch New International Nazi-Era Records Internet Portal - US National Archives Press Release


WHAT:
  A National Archives signing ceremony to launch the new Nazi-era records online database
[http://www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/international-resources]. For the first time, digital access to millions of Nazi-era cultural property–related records will be available through a single Internet portal. The portal extends public access to the widely dispersed records that will enable families and institutions to research their losses, provenance researchers to locate important documentation, and historians to study newly accessible materials on the history of this period.

WHO:  Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero
Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, U.S. Department of State, Douglas Davidson
Digitization Partnership Coordinator for the National Archives, James Hastings

WHERE:  Room 105 of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC
Please use the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance, between 7th and 9th Streets, NW.
Metro accessible: Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter station on the Yellow and Green Lines

WHEN:  Thursday, May 5, 2011, 11 A.M.

Institutions contributing to the International Research Portal
Those in italics will have representatives at the May 5 signing ceremony:

The National Archives of the United States
The National Archives of the United Kingdom
The Federal Archives of Germany
State Archives in Belgium
Commission for Looted Art in Europe
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives Department, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (France)
Central State Archive of Supreme Bodies of Power and Government of Ukraine
Archives of the Memorial de la Shoah (France)
The German Historical Museum

Background
The International Research Portal for Records Related to Nazi-Era Cultural Property is a collaboration of national and other archival institutions with records pertaining to Nazi-era cultural property. These archival institutions, along with expert national and international organizations, have created a single Internet portal to extend public access to the widely dispersed records. This collaborative project was established to fulfill the 1998 Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, the 2000 Vilnius Forum Declaration, and the 2009 Terezin Declaration, with the goal of making all such records publicly accessible.

The portal links researchers to archival materials consisting of descriptions of records and, in many cases, digital images of the records that relate to cultural propertythat was stolen, looted, seized, forcibly sold, or otherwise lost during the Holocaust. Cultural property documented in these records ranges from artworks to books and libraries, religious objects, antiquities, archival documents, carvings, silver, and more.

Records from the U.S. National Archives
The records available through the Portal from the U.S. National Archives include over 2.3 million pages of documents created or received by the U.S. Government during and after World War II as part of its investigations into cultural assets that were looted or otherwise lost during the war. These records document the activities of several U.S. Government agencies involved in the identification and recovery of looted assets, including the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and U.S. occupation forces in Germany and Austria. The materials also contain captured German records regarding the seizure of cultural property, such as the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) card file and related photographs. The records have been digitized and made available online by Footnote.com through a partnership agreement with the National Archives. The records are primarily in English, although some seized records are in German or other languages. There are no privacy or other access restrictions on the records.

See more information on Holocaust-era records [http://www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/] at the U.S. National Archives. See an extensive finding aid to these materials, [http://www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/finding-aid]. The National Archives online Archival Research Catalog (ARC) provides a description of many of these records [http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/topics/holocaust/series.html]. From the ARC description, click on the URL provided in the “online resource” section to be directed to the digitized records on Footnote.com. The digitized records on Footnote.com are available free in all National Archives research rooms and many large libraries, or for a fee by subscription. In recognition of the importance of these materials and this new international portal, Footnote.com will make all of their Holocaust-era records freely accessible for the entire month of May.

# # #

For press information contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-357-5300.

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Issue date: 28th April 2011

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