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US Supports Resolution of Claims Involving Holocaust-Era Looted Art

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In the commemoration the seventieth anniversary of the Inter-Allied Declaration against Acts of Dispossession Committed in Territories under Enemy Occupation and Control, known as the London Declaration of January 5, 1943, the United States of America today underlined its support of the fair and just resolution of claims involving Nazi-confiscated art.

In her remarks in Washington DC, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says beginning with the London Declaration, the United States implemented a policy of returning Nazi-confiscated art, including art taken through forced and coerced transfers, to its countries of origin, with the expectation that the art would be returned to its lawful owners.

"Under U.S. leadership, the international community has endorsed these principles as well." - Ms. Clinton

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A wagon piled high with corpses outside the crematorium in Buchenwald concentration camp. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

She says in the 1998 Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art and the Terezin Declaration of the 2009 Prague Conference on Holocaust Assets, more than forty countries joined the United States in agreeing that their respective legal systems or alternative dispute resolution processes should facilitate just and fair solutions for art that was taken by the Nazis and their collaborators.

In reaffirming these commitments, Ms. Clinton states that the Department of State expresses no view on any issue currently in litigation. U.S. policy will continue to support the fair and just resolution of claims involving Holocaust-Era looted art, in light of the provenance and rightful ownership of each particular work, while also respecting the bona fide internal restitution proceedings of foreign governments.

In July 2010, heirs to the Herzog Collection, the largest private art collection in Hungary prior to World War II, filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia late to seek the return of artworks illegally held by Hungary since the Holocaust.

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Hitler with Cesare Orsenigo, the Catholic Church's nuncio to Germany, in 1935. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The heirs have demanded a full and transparent inventory of looted art from the Herzog Collection held by Hungary.

The lawsuit seeks the return of over 40 artworks with a combined value of over $100 million, including masterworks by El Greco, Francisco de Zurbarán, and Lucas Cranach the Elder. The works come from the collection of Baron Mór Lipót Herzog, a passionate Jewish art collector, and the case is regarded by experts as the world's largest unresolved Holocaust art claim.

Hungary, a WWII-era ally of Nazi Germany that organized the dispossession, seizure, deportation, and eventual deaths of more than 500,000 Hungarian Jews, has held the artworks since the genocide of its Jewish population

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain english. Read more stories by Mina Fabulous. Contact Mina through NewsBlaze.

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