Jews and American Indians–Unequal, but Comparative Losers to History

Heirs of Jewish Art Collectors Pursue Works Sold in Nazi Era

By Craig Whitlock and Shannon Smiley
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, January 21, 2008; A01
DRESDEN, Germany — When the Nazis came to power, Fritz Glaser was a marked man. A wealthy Jewish lawyer, he was also well known as a collector of modern art — works condemned by Hitler as “degenerate” and soon banned under the Third Reich.
Miraculously, Glaser survived the Holocaust and the 1945 Allied firebombing of this city on the Elbe River. But his precious art collection was in shambles. During Nazi times, when Jews were routinely pressured to sell property at nominal prices, he was forced to liquidate much of his collection, according to his family. Amid the postwar wreckage, he sold a few remaining pieces to raise cash and saw the others confiscated by the communists before he died in East Germany in 1956.
A half-century later, Glaser’s sole remaining heir is fighting an uphill battle to win back some of his artworks, which are now ranked as masterpieces. Armed with scraps of wartime letters and faded exhibition catalogs, Glaser’s 69-year-old daughter-in-law is trying to prove he was coerced into selling his treasures to unscrupulous Nazi art dealers.
“In Germany, we really have difficulty in getting back artwork that was taken during the Holocaust,” said Sabine Rudolph, an attorney for the heir, Ute Glaser. “It’s a real problem, how to check these records. The museums don’t want to know about any mistakes. They don’t want to give private researchers access to their archives.”
Join the crowd, Ute.
If you want equity, don’t look to history to find it and if you hope to use Hitler’s holocaust as a starting-point, you’ll have to line up behind America’s Indians, the millions hustled off to Russian gulags, the victims of Mao’s carnage and the Mayans of Central America. Then there are America’s blacks, European gypsies and the peoples from nowhere enslaved by the peoples from somewhere.
Every gallery, museum and national archive is crammed with the loot from someone’s theft. Every great collection is the sum total of an endless list of avarice, greed and crime, even though the present collector may be no more attached to that string of offenses than by the power of his money.
Do you have a position, Ute, on the current theft of priceless art from the very bosom of humanity’s beginnings? We call that ongoing wreckage of individual lives and property Iraq.
History does not award justice, it merely dispenses history.

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