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Association of European Jewish Museums

Association of European Jewish Museums Conference, Venice, November 2006

In November 2006, a conference of the The Association of European Jewish Museums (AEJM) was held in Venice. During the conference, it was acknowledged that several Jewish museums in Europe had carried out provenance research of their holdings. The AEJM recommended that these museums sign the following resolution concerning provenance research (history of ownership).

In developing a consensus on principles to assist in resolving issues relating to Nazi-confiscated works of art, works of applied art, Judaica, Books, Manuscripts, ephemera, and household articles the AEJM recognizes that among the participating Jewish museums there are differing legal systems depending on the nations they are located in and that countries act within the context of their own laws.

Subject matter of the resolution is the identification and discovery of:

  • unlawfully appropriated objects that may be in the custody of European Jewish museums and the restitution of these objects to their former owners or their respective heirs;
  • unconsciously acquired objects of dubious provenance;
  • inherited holdings of not identified provenance including long-term loans and donations.

The Association of European Jewish Museums acknowledges that during World War II and the years following the end of the war, much of the information needed to establish provenance information and prove ownership was dispersed or lost. AEJM therefore agrees that both full and associate members of the Association are required to follow the Washington Principles in regard to their own collections and strive to:

(1)    identify all objects in their collections that were issued/created before 1946;

(2)    reasonably consider gaps or ambiguities in provenance in light of the passage of time and the circumstances of the Holocaust era;

(3)    make available object and provenance (history of ownership) information on those objects and accessible to potential rightful owners or their heirs;

(4)    publicize works of art, applied art, Judaica, Books, Manuscripts, ephemera, and household articles that are found to have been confiscated by the Nazis and not subsequently restituted in order to locate its pre-War owners or their heirs;

(5)    take steps to achieve a just and fair solution in case the pre-War owners of works of art, applied art, Judaica, Books, Manuscripts, ephemera, and household articles that are found to have been confiscated by the Nazis and not subsequently restituted, or their heirs, can be identified, recognizing this may vary according to the facts and circumstances surrounding a specific case;

(6)   to take steps to achieve an appropriate solution in case the pre-War owners of works of art, applied art, Judaica, Books, Manuscripts, ephemera, and household articles that are found to have been confiscated by the Nazis, or their heirs, can not be identified;

(7)    give priority to continuing provenance research as resources allow.

An annual report on progress in provenance research is required to be submitted by full and associated members prior to the AEJM conference.