Slow Progress in Returning Nazi Looted Art

Slow Progress in Returning Nazi Looted Art, More than half of the countries that signed onto this thing called the Washington Principles back in ’98 haven’t really been pulling their weight when it comes to returning art stolen by the Nazis. That’s according to a fresh report from the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), dropping some truth bombs on Tuesday.

What are the Washington Principles?

Alright, so back in 1998, during the Washington Conference on Holocaust Era Assets, they came up with these 11 principles to guide countries on how to handle art looted by the Nazis. The idea was to help different countries, with their own laws and stuff, figure out how to deal with art seized during World War II and maybe give it back to its rightful owners.

Who’s Making Progress?

Out of the 47 nations that signed the 2009 Terezin Declaration, which was all about embracing these principles, only a handful have actually made any real progress. Like, seven countries are doing great, three are doing pretty okay, and 13 are chipping away at it. But a whopping 24 countries? Yeah, they’ve barely made a dent.

Why Does it Matter?

Gideon Taylor, bigwig at WJRO, dropped some wisdom, saying that it’s not just about returning stolen art. It’s about reconnecting families and communities with their roots. Sure, there’s been some progress over the last 25 years, but there’s still a mountain of work to do.

The Ratings Game

So, how do they rate these countries? Well, it’s based on things like whether they’ve done historical research on the stolen art, looked into where their own collections came from, set up a system for making claims on possibly looted art, or actually returned any of the stuff.

The Heroes and Zeros

Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US? Yeah, they’re the golden boys, making major strides in following the Washington Principles. But then there are the slouchers, like Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Russia, Spain, and Turkey, who haven’t really budged much.

A Step Forward

But hey, there’s a glimmer of hope. The US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, hopped on video to announce that 22 countries, led by those with dedicated Holocaust envoys, are down with endorsing some best practices in art and cultural-property restitution. It’s the first time in like forever that there’s been a big thumbs-up on Holocaust restitution from the government.

The Road Ahead

Okay, so in the past 25 years, they’ve made some strides in doing their detective work on where this stolen art ended up. Thanks to fancy tech and better access to archives, they’ve uncovered a lot. But, and it’s a big but, most museums are still sleeping on the job when it comes to researching the origins of their collections.

The Final Verdict

There’s still a long road ahead. Sure, some progress has been made, but there’s still a ton to do. Let’s hope that more countries step up and do the right thing by giving back what rightfully belongs to those who were wronged.