English translation: Hitler’s Art Treasure in the Dresden Castle
by Sven Heitkamp
Dresden. The State Art Collections Dresden are currently tracing mysterious pictures from Adolf Hitler’s art treasure. The 1,400 works have to be examined for their provenance and possibly returned to former owners.
The Dictator wanted to create a “Führermuseum” of Art in Linz after the Second World War. Dresden was the base for the “Special Mission Linz”, the history of which begins with Hans Posse. The art historian is appointed Director of the Staatliche Gemäldegalerien in Dresden in 1910. In 1939 Adolf Hitler personally makes him the Special Commissioner for creating his art collection for the planned “Führermuseum” in Linz.
Active across Europe
Posse travels across Europe and collects pictures - through legal purchases on the European art market, but also by accessing the large confiscated Jewish collections. After Posse dies of cancer in 1942, the Wiesbaden museum director Hermann Voss continues with the National Socialist art theft. During the course of the “Special Mission Linz”, more than 1,400 works - around 1,000 prints, 400 drawings and watercolours, as well as eleven books - ended up in Dresden. Since the end of the Second World War they have been stored in the Kupferstichkabinett (Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs), which is now housed in the Residenzschloss. The works range from the 16th to the early 20th century and are mostly by Dutch, French and German artists. However, the provenance and ownership rights to the works are still to be resolved. A not insignificant part of the works of art was unlawfully seized from Jewish collections.
Since June a special research project of the Berlin State Museums funded by the federal government is combing through the “Linz Collection” across Germany. The aim is to document the history of the works from artist to current owner without leaving any gaps. In Dresden, the person in charge of this work is Professor Gilbert Lupfer, who is responsible for the provenance research of the State Art Collections Dresden.
Formally owned by the federal government
“We are now checking whether there are entitled claimants” says Lupfer. Should it be confirmed that any of these works were unlawfully extorted or looted from Jewish owners, attempts will be made to trace descendants to enable restitution. To date, the works are formally owned by the federal government. If it turns out that any works were acquired legally during the Nazi period, the Dresden Art Collections can apply for title to be transferred to them.
However, the research into ownership rights is still at the beginning, says Lupfer. “It really is a mystery why the prints and drawings went to Dresden at all.”http://www.lr-online.de/nachrichten/sachsen/Hitlers-Kunstschatz-im-Dresdner-Schloss;art1047,3027709