Laws:

Federal State Act on the Return of Cultural Objects, 4 December 1998

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Title  
Federal State Act on the Return of Cultural Objects from Austrian Federal Museums and Collections. 4 December 1998 (1390 der Beilagen zu den Stenographischen Protokollen des Nationalrates XX.GP. Ausgedruckt am 25.9.1998)

Date
4 December 1998

Law
Federal State Act on the Return of Cultural Objects from Austrian Federal Museums and Collections. 4 December 1998
To view the German language text of the law, click here.  To view the 2009 modification of the law in the original German, click here.

ENGLISH TEXT:

The National Council has ordered:

SECTION 1
The Federal Minister of Finance shall be empowered to return from the Austrian Federal museums and collections, including the collections of the Federal Authority of Administration of Movables, to their original owners or their heirs, without compensation, all those cultural objects which:

  1. were the subject of restitution to the original owners or their heirs and which became property of the Federal State without compensation after 8 May 1945 pursuant to the Act on the Prohibition of Export of Objects of Historical, Artistic or Cultural Value (StGB1.no.90/1918) and which remain State property.
  2. which became property, albeit lawfully, of the Federal State, but which were nevertheless the subject of a legal transaction according to section 1 of the Federal Act of 15 May 1946 on the Declaration of Annulment of Legal Transactions or Other Legal Acts which Occurred During the German Occupation of Austria, and thereby became property of the Federal Republic of Austria (BGB1.no.106/1946) and which remain State property.
  3. could not after termination of the restitution procedure be returned to their original owners or their heirs and therefore became abandoned goods, property of the Federal State which remain State property.

SECTION 2
The Federal Minister for Education and Cultural Affairs, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and the Federal Minister for Defence are empowered:
i. to determine the original owners or their heirs and to transfer the cultural objects to them.
ii. Those cultural objects referred to in Section 1 which cannot be restored to their original owners or their heirs because these cannot be determined, pass to the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism. The Fund shall use the proceeds for the aims set up pursuant to Section 2a of the Federal Act, the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism (BGB1.Nr.432/1905).

The named ministers must hear the established committee before transfer of ownership, pursuant to Section 3. The provisions of this Act do not create any right to transfer of ownership.
The Federal Minister for Education and Cultural Affairs must report annually to the National Council about the effected transfers of cultural objects.

SECTION 3
A committee shall be established at the Ministry for Education and Cultural Affairs, which shall advise the Federal ministers named in Section 2, of the determination of persons to whom cultural objects shall be transferred.
Members of the Committee shall be:
i. one representative each from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs, the Federal Ministry for Justice, the Federal Ministry for Education and Cultural Affairs and the Federal Minstry for Defence,
ii. one representative from the finance procuratum,
iii. one expert in the field of history and art history, nominated by the Conference of Rectors.
A substitute member for each member must be nominated.
The Committee may ask other experts and suitable advisors for advice.
5.-8. further formal requirements for the Committee have been omitted (majority voting, duration of membership, code of practice…)


SECTION 4
The provisions of the Act on listed buildings (BGB1.no.533/1923) amended by Act BGB1.no.473/1990 on the deliberate disposal of listed buildings which are sole property of the Federal State, and the provisions of the Federal Act on the Prohibition of the Export of Cultural Objects of Historic, Artistic or Cultural Value (StGB1.no.90/1918) amended by Act GB1.no.808/1997 shall not apply to the transfer of ownership and the export of objects pursuant to this Act, for a period of 25 years after entry into force of this Act.

SECTION 5
No levies may be imposed on grants which are prompted directly by this Act.

SECTION 6
Execution of the Act

Source
Norman Palmer, Museums and the Holocaust, London 2000, pp. 178-179.

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