French Senate votes unanimously to back Holocaust art restitution efforts

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Illustrative: The French senate on December 11, 2014, in Paris, France. (AFP/MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE)
Illustrative: The French senate on December 11, 2014, in Paris, France. (AFP/MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE)

France’s Senate votes unanimously in favor of the restitution of Jewish-owned paintings, book and religious items taken under Nazi rule that are now in French custody.

France’s Ministry of Culture has been working to find the owners of some 2,200 pieces still in the custody of national museums that it suspects were taken from Jewish owners between January 20, 1933, when Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor, and May 8, 1945, when Germany surrendered to the Allies.

Many of the items were taken from or abandoned by French Jews, but some were stolen from German Jews and sent to France by mistake. The ministry has been working with academics and museums to prove the provenance of stolen works, and has returned 76 such works since 2013.

“Nothing can repair the Shoah tragedy, but with every restitution comes an act of justice,” said Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak in an April speech on the measure.

It is estimated that some 100,000 works of art were taken from French Jews in World War II.

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