Cover Osteuropa 3-4/2017

In Osteuropa 3-4/2017

It is Always the Others who are the Thieves!
Suppression and justification strategies in connection with art theft in Eastern Europe under the National Socialists

Corinna Kuhr-Korolev, Ulrike Schmiegelt-Rietig

Deutsche Fassung


The extent of the destruction of culture and looting of art in Eastern Europe under the National Socialists continues to be downplayed even today. Strategies for exoneration and justification that emerged during the Second World War continue to be pursued without critical reflection. Several rival German institutions were involved in art theft in the Soviet Union. This provided the perpetrators and their accomplices with the opportunity to transfer culpability to others, and to present their own actions as “securing” or “saving” cultural assets. In many cases, the theft was semantically discarded and presented as being a normal aspect of war. For decades, the looting of cultural assets and the destruction of culture by the Germans in the Soviet Union was blanked out from awareness. In the German political and public spheres, the issue of art theft under the National Socialists in the Soviet Union is not given the weight that it is due.

(Osteuropa 3-4/2017, pp. 167–180)