Restitution news (ctd.)
April 15 2017
Picture: TAN (showing the construction of the Berlin Wall)
The Art Newspaper reports that the German government is to launch a new restitution project aimed at dealing with all the art looted by the Stasi in East Germany. As Catherine Hickley reports, the DDR authorities helped themselves to anything left behind by those who fled to the West:
At the end of 1961, just a few months after the Berlin Wall had been built, the East German minister for state security, Erich Mielke, gave orders for a secret operation to force open abandoned, privately rented bank vaults, safety deposit boxes and safes at around 4,000 locations across the country and empty them of their contents.
The operation, known as Aktion Licht (Operation Light), ran from 6 to 9 January 1962. It was a state-sanctioned mass theft of assets from those who had left the country. The seized treasures belonged to East Germans who had escaped to the West, but also to Jews forced to flee or deported to concentration camps during the Third Reich.