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Art Looting in the Nazi Era

Professor Sir Richard Evans’s work as a historian of Nazi Germany and specifically its appropriation of Jewish-owned art led to his appointment to the Spoliation Advisory Panel of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which resolves claims for cultural objects lost during the Nazi era.


As the only historian on the Panel, Professor Evans has used his research to provide expert advice that has played a significant role in shaping the five reports and recommendations published by the Panel since 2008. This has resulted in the resolution of a number of disputes and played a role in the ongoing process of reconciliation following the Second World War.

The scope of the research by Professor Evans – which includes art history and the ‘Aryanization’ of Jewish property in Nazi Germany, cultural looting of countries by the Nazis, and the state of the financial market and banking sector in Germany at the time – were able to provide the Panel with essential historical context for its work. On cases such as claim for the return of an oil sketch by Sir Peter Paul Rubens and a rare Italian Missal from the Benevento Chapter removed illegally at the end of the Second World War, Professor Evan’s research and documentary investigations assisted the panel in coming to decisions on advising on the return of the objects.

The cases prompted the panel to recommend legislation and this led to the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act 2009, which was passed as a Private Member’s Bill.

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