Many Works of Art Stolen by the Nazis from Dutch Jews Have Yet to Be Returned to the Owners’ Heirs

While Germany and many other countries have made progress in restoring goods seized during World War II to their rightful owners, the Netherlands still holds a mass of paintings that once belonged to Jews, as Avraham Roet writes. (Free registration required.)

Much of the art confiscated from Jews during the German occupation can still be found in warehouses belonging to the Dutch state, or in museums around the country. Because Dutch authorities have been remiss in preserving archives and documentation, however, it’s not possible to make an accurate appraisal of the value of the plundered art. . . .

Though the war ended more than seven decades ago, the scale of the thefts from Jews by both the Germans and Dutch people themselves—not only during World War II but afterward as well—is still coming to light. Following the German conquest of the Netherlands, on May 10, 1940, Adolf Hitler and his deputy Hermann Goering began taking an intense personal interest in the acquisition of art, in particular paintings by Old Masters. Hitler intended to establish—in Linz, Austria, near the village where he was born—the world’s largest museum of classical art and objects. To that end, he ordered the confiscation of art in every country occupied by the Third Reich. At the same time, Goering began stealing obsessively for his own private collection, often competing with Hitler for the same items. . . .

The Allies, aware of the art-looting phenomenon, decided, as early as 1942-1943, that all plundered property would be returned after the war to its country of origin, without compensation being made to the then-current owner. . . . In 1945, the Netherlands government set up the Netherlands Art Property Foundation (SNK). . . . Anyone who knew of artworks owned by his or her family that had been stolen could fill out an SNK form requesting their return. Tens of thousands of requests poured in. . . . A substantial number of SNK applicants indeed took their property back, but that still left tens of thousands of items in the hands of Dutch state authorities after their repatriation from Germany.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Art, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Holocaust restitution, Netherlands

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship