Restitution of works looted by the Nazis: the “historic” framework law adopted

By Le Figaro with AFP

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The text, defended by the Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak, was approved in its final version unanimously by the embly and the Senate. JULIAN DE ROSA / AFP

The text establishes a general framework for removing works from museums while opening up the possibility for rights holders to obtain compensation other than restitution.

Parliament adopted on Thursday a framework law to facilitate the restitution by the French public collections of the cultural goods of which the Jews were despoiled under Nazi Germany, “a law of action“which will allow”concrete acts of justice“, according to the Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak. National embly, then Senate successively approved one last time unanimously a text “historic and highly symbolic“, according to the rapporteur for the Senate Béatrice Gosselin (related LR).

It is a law of action so that this duty of memory and vigilance translates into concrete acts of justice, to illuminate our History as much as our future.“said the Minister Rima Abdul Malak. The objective is to establish a general framework for removing works from museums in order to return them to their legitimate owners or igns, without having to resort to legislative texts on a case-by-case basis. The beneficiaries will be able to reach an amicable agreement on other terms of repair than restitution.

Inalienability of collections

Read alsoRestitution of three works of art stolen by the Nazis from their heirs

One hundred thousand works were seized in France during the Second World War according to the ministry. Some 60,000 items found in Germany at the Liberation were returned to France. 45,000 were quickly returned, and around 2,200 works were entrusted to national museums, known as “MNR works”. The rest was sold by the administration of the Domains in the early 1950s, and many works returned to the market.

However, unlike “MNR” works of art, the State can only launch the restitution of works that have entered public collections by adopting laws, to derogate from the principle of the inalienability of collections. The framework law ratifies a derogation from this principle for looted property. However, the State will have to consult a special commission.

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