Polish Culture Ministry rejects NYT accusations

The First 14 January 2020

In connection with a New York Times (NYT) article, the Polish Culture Ministry stated that all works of art, NYT wrote about, had been placed by the German occupiers in the borders of today's Poland, which during WWII was either part of or was incorporated in the Third Reich.

The article headlined "Poland urged to look for Nazi-looted art still held in its museums" underlined that "despite the Polish government's efforts to recover cultural objects lost during World War II, researchers say its museums hold stolen items left behind by the Nazis."

"(...) experts say Poland has done a poor job of providing the same justice to Dutch Jews and others whose art works were stolen during the war and ended up in German-occupied Poland and now are part of official museum collections," reads the text.

"The Polish museums are not the legal successors of German museums operating in the area, which after WWII had been incorporated into the Republic of Poland. At the same time, one cannot rule out that works of art of unknown origin could have found themselves shortly after the war in Polish museums, which tried to save them from theft and destruction. The museums included them in their inventories under the binding post-war regulations," reads the statement.

The Culture Ministry also underlined that it had not received any restitution claims either from the government of The Netherlands or any other country regarding art looted during WWII.

Nearly 63,000 cultural artefacts looted in Poland during World War Two are still missing. Poland has been gathering data on stolen and lost artwork since the early 1990s. The Culture Ministry has a special Division for Looted Art.
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