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A Nazi Legacy Hidden in German Museums Part 3: Selling Off the Hitler Collection

news article, Der Spiegel, third part of four part series

  • Selling Off the Hitler Collection

Statements

A Nazi Legacy Hidden in German Museums Part 3: Selling Off the Hitler Collection (English)
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A court riddled with old Nazi Party jurists sentenced the Holocaust survivor to two-and-a-half years in prison. Two days later, the 45-year-old committed suicide with sleeping pills. An investigative committee in the state parliament rehabilitated Auerbach two years later, and little was left of the charges against him. Today the following words are inscribed on his tombstone: "Helper of the Poorest of the Poor, Victim of his Duties." (English)
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A complaint by the "Association of Jewish Invalids in Bavaria" also documents the climate in the early 1950s. The State of Bavaria, the letter to American occupation forces reads, was deliberately delaying restitution payments, even as it was spending billions on the non-Jewish population. Furthermore, the Christian Social Union, the conservative political party that held sway in the state (as it still does), was accused of neglecting the interests of Nazi victims for political reasons. The population, still living in want itself, also had little sympathy for the victims of Nazi dictatorship. Many felt that the government should first attend to the needs of Germany's war widows. (English)
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the general director of the Bavarian State Painting Collections from 1953 to 1957 was the same man who served in the position before 1945: Ernst Buchner. US historian Petropoulos describes him as "part of Hitler's kleptocracy." According to Petropoulos, Buchner played an important role in the seizure of Jewish collections and the Aryanization of Jewish art galleries. After the Night of the Broken Glass pogrom, it was Buchner who opened the National Museum to the Gestapo so that it could store Aryanized Jewish collections there. He also advised Himmler and Hitler on the appraisal of their looted art. (English)
30 January 2013
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