Last week, the German Lost Art Foundation (Deutsches Zentrum für Kulturgutverluste) announced that as of the beginning of this year, it has established a help desk to support victims of Nazi persecution and their descendants with enquiries regarding looted art. Here’s from the press release:
“[The Help Desk ] is especially relevant […] for those who do not live in Germany, do not speak German and are not familiar with the practices of German cultural federalism. The new role of a trusted point of contact in Berlin was precisely designed to fill this gap and to provide initial assistance and support for those concerned.
The art historian Dr Susanne Meyer-Abich was appointed director of the Help Desk for enquiries about cultural assets seized in the National Socialist era on 1 January 2020. She studied art history, English and Italian at Ruhr-Universität Bochum where she completed her PhD in 1995. From 1998 to 2016 she worked for international auction houses. From June 2016 Susanne Meyer-Abich worked as specialist translator for art and culture, and from November 2016 as editor of the Journal for Art Market Studies at Technische Universität Berlin.”
Better late than never would be a benevolent reading of this initiative. I certainly hope that the Help Desk will be able to establish itself as a “trusted point of contact”, but at the same time, I understand the scepticism expressed very pointedly by Nicholas O’Donnell (and no doubt by others) on Twitter: