World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder on Thursday urged German officials in Berlin to work toward returning Nazi-looted art to its rightful Jewish owners. The art pieces “are the last prisoners of World War II… They should be returned to the victims of the Holocaust and their heirs,” Lauder said, according to the Associated Press.
Lauder said many of the stolen art pieces still hang in German museums today. In 2012, more than 1,400 works of art were discovered in the Munich apartment belonging to the son of a Nazi-era art dealer. An international commission investigating and helping return the artworks to relatives of the original owners “should have real power, so that museums that have avoided transparency up until now, will be required to do the research under its auspices in accordance with international standards,” Lauder said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Germany’s top cultural affairs official, Monica Gruetters, said the country is seeking to double its €14.5 million ($19.7 million) state funding dedicated to the search for Nazi-looted art. It is “unbearable that there is still Nazi-looted art in German museums,” she said.