'A little bit of justice'

November 18 2011

Image of 'A little bit of justice'

Picture: Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Two paintings by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff are one step closer to being restituted to the heirs of a Jewish businessman killed at Auschwitz, after a ruling by a German government panel. The pictures are Self-Portrait (above) and Farm in Dangast, both of which are now in the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. Robert Graetz, a German Jew who worked in the textiles industry, was forced to sell the works to pay the punitive taxes levied by the Nazis. Graetz's grandson, Argentinian Roberto Graetz, said:

"You can’t undo the past, but it is possible to achieve a little bit of justice ... Many times over the years I have had tears in my eyes, remembering this family history while working on the claim. There is a sense of deep satisfaction at this conclusion, but the feelings are contradictory, because those who suffered are no longer here.” [...]

“My grandfather lost everything he worked for, and then died in a camp [...] My family first started trying to get these paintings back in 1946, after the war. The decision is good for us, for my children and my children’s children.”

Catherine Hickley in Bloomberg has the full story here.

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