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Launch of the Remembrance Project Kunst, Raub und Rückgabe – Vergessene Lebensgeschichten


The collaborative project Kunst, Raub und Rückgabe – Vergessene Lebensgeschichten, organised by the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz and the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, commemorates the victims of Nazi art theft. The project uses actual restitution cases as a basis for recounting the forgotten personal histories of Jewish people, and chronicles the art that was stolen from them. The remembrance project was presented for the first time at the opening event, which took place at the Bode-Museum on 23 February 2023. These stories will be presented in a media library of remembrance assembled in cooperation with the BR and rbb.

The Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz with the Zentralarchiv of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen have launched a unique project of remembrance that is being financed with 690,000 EUR in funding from the budget of the Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien. The project recounts the personal stories of Jewish people who once occupied positions of influence within Germany’s cultural sphere, only to later be ostracised, disenfranchised, persecuted, robbed, and murdered at the hands of the Nazis.

Both establishments are thereby committing to broaden their focus to encompass not only works that have been restituted as a direct result of provenance research, but also the numerous personal histories of the relatively lesser-known art collectors to whom the pieces once belonged. In cooperation with the Bayerischer Rundfunk and Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, a multi-faceted cinematic monument will be erected to in honour of these people. A separate website will be created for the project, which will function as a multimedia library of remembrance.

Multimedia Centre

The names that provenance researchers encounter in their work are often unfamiliar. Who were these people? And what would it mean to their descendants if an artwork that had been seized due to persecution were to be restituted? Behind every artwork that is recovered lies the personal history and fate of individual people and entire families.

The online media library will be launched in the early summer of 2023, starting with the first five personal histories, which will be recounted in multimedia form using texts, images, films, maps, and audio elements, and will be gradually expanded with other stories as the project unfolds. By the end of 2024, the media library will feature the personal stories of 30 individuals.

Opening Event for Kunst, Raub und Rückgabe at the Bode-Museum

The first two films, which chronicle the life stories of Friedrich Guttsmann and August Liebmann Mayer, were presented on 23 February 2023 as part of the opening event for Kunst, Raub und Rückgabe – Vergessene Lebensgeschichten at the Bode-Museum. Following the viewing, the event moderator Shelly Kupferberg spoke with Ann-Charlott Mörner, the granddaughter of Friedrich Guttsmann, as well as with Gilbert Lupfer (Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste), Rüdiger Mahlo (Jewish Claims Conference), and Hermann Simon (founding director of the Centrum Judaicum Berlin) about the project, about memory, remembrance, and the importance of provenance research. Miriam Friedmann, granddaughter of another victim of Nazi persecution whose plight will also be depicted as part of the project, also got an opportunity to address the attendees in a video greeting.

Opening Event for Kunst, Raub und Rückgabe at the Bode-Museum on 23 February 2023 at the Bode-Museum