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Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property

Apart from the post-war restitution laws, which were also used for post-war communal property restitution, a 1960 law provided for a one-time payment of approximately $11.4 million as compensation for damaged synagogues, prayer houses, and other properties owned by the Jewish community, plus an annual allocation of approximately $846,200 to be paid for an indefinite time period.  The 2001 General Settlement Fund’s Claims Committee and in rem arbitration panel were also used to seek restitution of communal properties.

In 2002, the Austrian federal provinces, along with the Jewish communities of Vienna, Graz, Linz, and Salzburg, concluded an agreement intended to resolve all remaining questions of compensation for destroyed/looted assets that belonged to Jewish communities, associations, and foundations.  A payment amount of approximately $20 million was finalized in 2005, after the Vienna Jewish community withdrew more than 700 pending claims with the General Settlement Fund and withdrew amicus curiae support for a pending class action suit in the United States against Austria.

Austria’s libraries and museums conduct provenance research on Judaica and carry out restitution thereof.


Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property

The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Office of Economic Recovery (ORE) was responsible for tracing, recovering, restituting, and liquidating movable goods from 1944 until its dissolution in 1968.  In 1948, the Central Jewish Consistoire purchased 565 Hebrew books of unknown but possible Jewish origin from the ORE.  The 2001 Commission was involved in researching the origin of all immovable property in Belgium.



Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property

Experts believe at least some Judaica or Jewish cultural property looted by Nazis or otherwise seized during the Holocaust is located in Canada.  According to the World Jewish Restitution Organization, Canada received 2,031 books and 151 museum and synagogue pieces from the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction (JCR) after World War II; the majority of these items are believed to have been looted during the Holocaust.  Many of these items went to the Jewish Studies Department at the University of Manitoba and to the Dominican Institute of Medieval Studies in Montreal.  The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto also received one book.  There appear to be no surviving inventories of what was actually distributed or the ultimate location of the items, and the current whereabouts of many of the items is unknown.  The Canadian Jewish Congress was involved in distributing the items and is believed to maintain approximately 400 books in its collection, along with approximately 45 ceremonial objects.  The Aron Museum in Montreal also holds an extensive Judaica collection, which includes items that were in antiques markets after World War II, as well as some items from JCR.  Additionally, the Artefacts Canada database is partially devoted to cultural and religious objects in Canada’s cultural institutions.  The database currently permits users to input certain data about item origin; enhancements are reportedly coming which will allow for input of additional data regarding an item’s provenance.


Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property

Germany is committed to strengthening provenance research on Judaica and deepening scientific exchange in this field.  In 2018, the German Center for Cultural Property Losses and the Israel Museum cooperated on a project that added more than 1,100 potentially stolen Judaica items to the German Lost Art database.  In 2019, the government sponsored a German translation of the Claims Conference-WJRO Handbook on Judaica Provenance Research:  Ceremonial Objects.  Germany also encourages its public universities to promote Judaica provenance research.


Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property

As with confiscated and looted works of art, the restitution of stolen Judaica and Jewish cultural property in Slovakia has been complicated by a lack of archival documents.  Representatives of UZZNO have reported that most Judaica disappeared without a trace during WWII, stolen by private individuals.  The Museum of Jewish Culture, which falls under the Slovak National Museum, currently holds the largest collection of Judaica in the country.  Named for architect Eugen Barkany, a pioneer of Jewish heritage preservation in Slovakia, the collection includes more than 3,000 items dating from before and after WWII.

In 2007, Slovak government representatives and Jewish organizations discussed the creation of a website with information on the origin of the items in Slovak museums and galleries and an online database of Judaica in the country; they also discussed making archives related to Holocaust issues available for further historical research.  The Ministry of Culture later launched an electronic version of the central register of the collections of museums and galleries in Slovakia, which was implemented by the Slovak National Museum and the Slovak National Gallery.  As of August 2019, work continued on both the register of collection items and the database of Judaica.

The Slovak Jewish Cultural Heritage Center has carried out documentation activities and worked to create a database of Jewish buildings and monuments in Slovakia.  The outcomes of the Synagoga Slovaca project, a database of photographs and other documents related to Jewish cultural heritage in Slovakia, are accessible and continuously updated online.

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