German family firm to return Nazi-looted artwork to Jewish heirs

Hans Thoma painting to be given back to descendants of Albert and Hedwig Ullmann nearly 80 years after forcibly taken by Nazis

A family-run German baking goods company will return a painting to the heirs of a Jewish family that was forced to sell the artwork to escape Nazi Germany.

The return of the Hans Thoma painting to the heirs of Albert and Hedwig Ullmann by Dr. Oetker follows an investigation launched by the company in 2015 into the family’s art collection. The firm’s probe was searching for works that may have been stolen by or sold under duress to the Nazis before landing in the collection of company founder Rudolf-August Oetker.

Company spokesman Joerg Schillinger told the German news media that other works are to be restituted.

According to German media reports, the Thoma work in question, “Springtime in the Mountains/Children’s Dance,” was sold with other works under duress in 1938 by the widowed Hedwig Ullmann before she fled Nazi Germany.

In 1954, it was purchased by the Oetker company founder at an auction. By the time Rudolf-August Oetker died in 2007 at 91, he reportedly had amassed a collection of several hundred paintings and objects.

The Ullmann heirs reportedly had no idea what had happened to the Thoma lithograph until they heard from the Oetker firm.

Their New York-based attorney, David Rowland, praised the private firm for doing the “right thing” and setting an “outstanding example.”

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