Uniqueness of the Legacy of the Munich Central Collecting Point of the Defeated Germany (1945–9)

Viktoriia Soloshenko
PhD in History Deputy Director for Scientific Affairs, State Institution “Institute of World History of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine”

ORCID: 0000-0002-7096-9859

DOI: 10.37837/2707-7683-2022-26

Abstract. The article highlights that the problem of restitution of cultural valuables lost in connection with World War II has been a matter of concern for humanity for many decades. Most European countries have no choice but to address such issues in order to move on from those tragic pages of history and discern crucial lessons for the future.
The author reveals that the territories of European countries suffered such an unprecedented and total relocation of objects of culture, equivalents of which are hardly present in the recent history of European civilisation. It is proven that the issue of defending, preserving, and reclaiming cultural valuables stolen by the Nazis at the onset of and throughout World War II has been reinvented by German society. The paper highlights Germany’s considerable experience in overcoming the burden of the past.
The article analyses the history of the creation and operation of the Munich Central Collecting Point. It outlines the interaction between American and German fellow art experts in the employ of Munich Central Institute of Art, which was overall positive. The author accentuates the problem of cultural valuables, which in the wake of World War II ended up scattered across the world, having been trafficked from Germany, Austria, Poland, Ukraine, etc., transported, or otherwise permanently lost. The contractual framework enabling the protection of cultural heritage is outlined, and the cases of recovery and restitution of cultural valuables transported or lost during World War II are showcased. The central problems impeding or limiting such recovery and restitution are discovered. Finally, the author analyses the German experience of recent decades in recovery and restitution of lost or illegally trafficked works along with the significance of that experience to Ukraine.
Keywords: Munich Central Collecting Point, Germany, totalitarian past, Nazi policy, cultural valuables, restitution.

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