Cover Osteuropa 1-2/2006

In Osteuropa 1-2/2006

Sistine Madonna on the Road
The Return to East Germany of Art Looted by the Soviets

Christian Hufen

Deutsche Fassung


The State Art Collections in Dresden suspects that over 10,000 of its works are still in Russia. They make up a part of the looted art that Soviet trophy commissions took to the Soviet Union in 1945. Among the Old Masters was Raffael’s world-famous Sistine Madonna. A decade later, the Soviet Union returned to East Germany a part of the looted art, among which was the Sistine Madonna. New archival findings show that the return was not just a political move in Moscow’s Germany policy, but a reaction to insistence on the part of the German Democratic Republic. The initiative for this coup was taken by a Berlin museum director; he made sure he was covered by GDR higher ups and set in motion an unexpected dynamic. The return could be instructive for Germany and Russia today.

(Osteuropa 1-2/2006, pp. 111–130)