Re­turn­ing the looted art

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment & Analysis -

Our spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion to­day into the grow­ing pres­sure for the resti­tu­tion of art looted by the Nazis raises an ur­gent moral ques­tion for Bri­tish par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. With­out an ef­fec­tive resti­tu­tion law in Bri­tain to as­sist the heirs of those who lost their art­works to the Nazis, this coun­try risks fall­ing be­hind the higher eth­i­cal stan­dards of many of its peers. Of more im­me­di­ate con­cern, the gov­ern­ment’s planned “anti-seizure” law will give our own mu­se­ums and gal­leries im­mu­nity from claims when they dis­play art­works known to have been looted. How­ever prag­matic the law’s in­ten­tions — and it is easy to un­der­stand why prospec­tive lenders of art­works are con­cerned to min­imise their risks — this can­not, on any moral grounds, be right. Six decades on, the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment should do only what makes it eas­ier for heirs to ob­tain what is, in truth, right­fully theirs.

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