ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 150

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Italy refuses German request to return ancient Roman statue bought by Hitler

Italy’s culture minister is refusing a request by the German State Antiquities Collection in Munich to return an ancient Roman statue that embodied Hitler’s Aryan aesthetic, calling it a national treasure.

The Discobolus Palombara is a 2nd-century Roman copy of a long-lost Greek bronze original. Hitler had bought the Roman copy from its private Italian owner in 1938 under pressure from Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and against the wishes of the education minister and cultural officials. The statue, unearthed at a Roman villa in 1781, was returned to Italy in 1948 as part of works illegally obtained by the Nazis.

The dispute arose when the director of the National Roman Museum requested the statue’s 17th-century marble base be returned from the Antikensammlungen state antiquities collection. The German museum instead asked for the return of the Discobolus Palombara, saying it had been illegally transported to Italy in 1948, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported Friday.

Italy’s culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, expresses doubts that the German culture minister, Claudia Roth, was aware of the Bavarian request.

“I made a joke — they’ll have to step over my dead body,” the minister tells Italian Rai state TV on Saturday evening. In his comments, he slams the German request for its return as “inadmissible.”

“This work was obtained fraudulently by the Nazis, and it’s part of our national heritage,” Sangiuliano tells Rai. He expressed hope that the base would be returned.

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