What is provenance research?

Provenance research investigates the origin of cultural assets and seeks information about their former owners. A special area of provenance research addresses so-called "Nazi-confiscated property" which the owners lost or relinquished as a result of National Socialist persecution. Such property was not always forcibly taken away as the term "confiscated" might imply. In many cases, the persecuted victims had to sell their possessions in order to survive, pay compulsory fees or finance their emigration.

In 1998, 44 nations participated in the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, which concluded with an agreement to search for Nazi-confiscated cultural assets and return them to the persecuted victims or their heirs.

Based on this agreement, the German federal government, German states and leading municipal associations issued a "Common Declaration" on 9 December 1999. In this statement, the parties affirmed their voluntary commitment to locate and return cultural assets confiscated through Nazi persecution, especially those of Jewish ownership. The following "Guidelines" were published to help organisations carry out the tasks put forth in the "Common Declaration".

Illegally appropriated cultural assets can also be found in the collections of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar. Consequently, researchers are investigating all acquisitions made since 1933 in chronological order. The provenance research focuses on all genres and collections. Contrary to popular belief, paintings and other artworks are not the only pieces at the Klassik Stiftung Weimar which could classify as Nazi-confiscated property, but also books, autographs, archived documents, graphic art and handcrafted works.

Projects of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Free State of Thuringia, represented by the State Chancellery of Thuringia, Department of Culture and the Arts.

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