Essay on The Wrongs Of The Past

Essay on The Wrongs Of The Past

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Righting the Wrongs of the Past
Over 80 years ago, the Nazi party occupation brought a reign of terror to the Jews. Though there is no way to return the dignity or lives that were lost, reparations may still be made to right the wrongs of the theft of personal property. The Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide and their surviving families deserve to reclaim the artwork that was stolen from them. Though this is not an easy task, measures can be taken to enable this reclamation of art, making is possible to at least right some of the wrongs of the past. A single international legal standard needs to be implemented to govern the reclamation process. By changing current legislation and creating and enforcing more transparency in the exchange of artworks, the governing body investigating these reclamation cases can ensure fairness for all parties involved. Using one set standard of judgement, the process can fairly be analyzed on a case by case basis.
The situations surrounding art acquired by the Nazis vary and some argue that in many cases there is not enough proof to determine whether art was indeed stolen or if it was legally obtained. Many times proof of legal sale or procurement is produced, though the families are not always inclined to agree with the evidence. In the case of “The Beethoven Frieze” by Gustav Klimt, it has been decided that the Secession museum in Vienna retain the piece in its collection (Begley). Though stolen by the Nazi’s from August Lederer by the Nazis in 1938, the piece was later returned to his son Erich, who then sold it to the Secession for $750,000 (Begley). The Lederer heirs claim that the sell was prompted by the Austrian export ban, since Erich, residing in Switzerland, was unable trans...


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...elines governing Nazi stolen art in the United States, there are other countries that do uphold strict statute of limitation laws, even in regards to property illegally taken by the Nazis. Germany’s statute of limitation laws in civil cases, for example, state that a “period generally runs for three years, but may extend to 30 years in some situations” (Amineddoleh). The reason for a limit to the time allowed for reclamation and restitution is to avoid claims that are outdated because the evidence may no longer be available or obtained and witnesses may have passed away or have a diminished capacity to remember details or exact circumstances (Amineddoleh). Many believe that these limitations should apply to the claims of descendants of Jewish Holocaust victims. They feel that too much time has now passed and that any claims should have been made many years ago.

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