Nazi-Looted Art from Kyiv Destroyed in East Prussia — New Hope for More Survivors?
Wartime cultural plunder and restitution issues on the Eastern Front have still been understudied and are little understood in the West. The context of art looting and clamor for cultural restitution for Holocaust victims and their heirs in Central and Western Europe stands in blatant contrast to the occasional cry for restitution of a few newly discovered survivors from museum seizures in Soviet lands. Unlike the extensive private Jewish cultural losses in Western Europe, given Bolshevik nationalization and abolition of private property, Nazi loot from within pre-1939 Soviet borders was mainly from state institutions. The brutal Holocaust on the Eastern Front was not accompanied by the same private world-class art losses experienced by stricken victims in other parts of Europe. Yet as we are about to see in the case of art and icons destroyed from three Kyiv state museums, Nazi destruction of cultural heritage in the East could be even more brutal, indeed among the worst art crimes on the Continent. The cry for restitution of the few survivors of the ‘people’s’ cultural heritage may prove more difficult to accomplish. Furthermore, as our present case reveals, the long suppression of accurate information has sadly impeded the search for Ukrainian losses.
KeywordsNational Archive Western Division Kaliningrad Oblast International Military Tribunal Soviet Authority
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