The Commission of Inquiry on Gold Transactions with the Third Reich, German insurance companies in Spain and Art collections during World War II (Mugica Commission)
The government of Spain established by Royal Decree 1136/97, dated 11July 1997, its Commission on Holocaust-Era Assets (the Mugica Commission). Its aim was to investigate the role of Spain in its economic relations with the Third Reich during the Second World War. Its mandate was to examine Spanish archives to determine Spain's policies in Spain's relations and economic transactions with the nations which took part in World War II and with third countries. The Commission focussed on monetary gold; non-monetary gold; German assets in Spain at the time of World War II; and on Spanish economic and commercial relations with foreign countries. The final report on gold, together with a number of recommendations, was presented to the government of Spain in April 1998.
In March 1999, the Spanish Commission presented two additional reports: one on works of art bought or sold in Spain during the war, and the second on German insurance companies that were present in Spain during that period.
Both the report on insurance and the report on works of art agreed in their conclusions that the role of Spain was very minor. According to the Commission, only one per cent of all the art dealers operating in Europe did business in Spain during the war. It claims that it was for this reason that the problem was hardly addressed during the negotiations between Spain and the Allies at the war's end.
The Spanish Commission for the Investigation of Gold Transactions with the Third Reich during the Second World War also instigated research on looted art by Miguel Martorell Linares (a professor of Social History and Political Thought at UNED in Madrid) who duly produced an official report for the Spanish government on Spain and wartime looted art, dated 23 December 1998 (España y el Expolio de las Colecciones Artisticas Europeas durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, Spain and the Looting of European Art Collections during the Second World War). Martorell Linares's official report is available online.
In this third and final report for the Commission, Martorell Linares focuses on the role that Spain may have played in the dispersion of artistic patrimony looted by the Nazis. Surprisingly, the report relies entirely on only two sources: wartime American intelligence reports and the archives of the Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores (AMAE).
The report is divided into three sections: the first part consists of an overview of the general issues raised by the looting of art during the Second World War; the second part deals with the attitude of General Franco's government towards this problem; the third part analyses individual cases of Spanish citizens implicated in the spoliation and dispersion of works of art, or accused by the Allies of having participated in these operations.
In addition, there are two appendices: the first details the twenty-two paintings from the Goudstikker Collection brought to Spain by Alois Miedl; it includes their titles, authors, and brief observations by Miedl concerning their acquisition. (It is worth noting that the original document also included photographic reproductions which are missing from the online version). The second appendix discusses the problems surrounding an exhibition of Germanic art (from German collections) of the nineteenth- and twentieth centuries held in Spain in May of 1944, and eventually returned to Germany in 1951.
What is significant is that the Spanish report explicitly excluded from its investigations any enquiries about the movement of looted works through Spain in the period in question, and also provenance research of art collections in Spain today to ascertain whether they include works of art looted by Nazi Germany. Consequently, the question as to whether there are any paintings acquired by Spanish museums before, during or after World War II which may have belonged to confiscated Jewish collections between 1933 and 1945, remains unanswered.
Cristina Gonzalez, Director
Archivo General del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores (AMAE)
Plaza de la Provincia, 1
Hours: Monday-Friday 9:30 to 2pm
Tel.: +34 91 379 9933 9540
Fax: +34 91 366 3953
US Holocaust Memorial Museum website
<http://www.ushmm.org/assets/spain.htm>, accessed 19 July 2007
Museo Imaginado (Virtual Museum of Spain) - Miguel Martorell-Linares, España y el Expolio de las Colecciones Artisticas Europeas durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial (Spain and the Looting of European Art Collections during the Second World War), 23 December 1998
<www.museoimaginado.com/expolio1.htm>, accessed 19 July 2007
Council of the European Union - Foreign Ministry Archives Services of the European Union Member States
<www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/Spain.pdf>, accessed 19 July 2007