U.S. Museum Survey
In 2006 the Claims Conference-WJRO conducted a survey of U.S. Museums concerning adherence to the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art and the procedures and guidelines recommended by the American Association of Museums regarding objects transferred in Europe during the Nazi era. Since the time the U.S. Museum Survey was conducted, there have been various developments, and the AAM is now the American Alliance of Museums, but many of the issues covered by the survey remain relevant.
Descriptive Catalogue of Looted Judaica
In 2007, the Claims Conference-WJRO released the Descriptive Catalogue of Looted Judaica. The Catalogue presents a summary of the history of Nazi looting of Judaica and of Judaica restitution efforts after the war divided by 70 separate countries. For each country, projects to identify looted Judaica are described, if they exist, followed by discussion of objects of Judaica in the country that are known to have been looted or to have gaps in their provenance that have been identified in databases, publications, or other sources. In some instances, information exists on the individual object level, while in other cases only more general descriptions of looted collections as a whole are available. The Catalogue also contains a list of relevant archives and a bibliography.
At the occasion of the Prague Conference on Holocaust Era Assets in 2009, the Claims Conference-WJRO submitted the report “Holocaust Era Looted Art: A World-Wide Preliminary Overview.”
The Claims Conference-WRJO also presented a report on Judaica entitled “Holocaust-Era Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property: A World-Wide Overview”.
Based on the ERR Archival Guide (ERR) and the success of the Database of Art Objects at the Jeu de Paume, the Claims Conference began to use the ERR records regarding Jewish libraries and Judaica in Eastern Europe and in the countries of the former Soviet Union. In 2012-2013, the Claims Conference presented the paper “The Looting of Jewish and Cultural Objects in Former Yugoslavia: The HAG Südosten & the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg in Belgrade, Agram (Zagreb) and Ragusa (Dubrovnik)” to the Ministry of Culture of Croatia and other relevant organizations in Croatia.
Five years after the Prague Conference, the Claims Conference-WJRO published a report entitled “Holocaust-Era Looted Art: An Overview of Worldwide Progress,” examining 50 countries and showing that two-thirds of the countries that have endorsed international agreements regarding research, publicity, and claims for Nazi-era looted art have done little or nothing to implement those pacts.
Also in 2014, the article “Restitution of art, Judaica, and other cultural property plundered in Serbia during World War II” by Wesley Fisher was published (Godina. XI (2014): 57–66).
WJRO Report concerning current approaches of United States Museums to Holocaust-Era Art Claims
The report, issued by the WJRO with the pro-bono assistance of the American law firm Dickstein Shapiro LLP, calls for three recommendations to promote merit-based resolutions of Holocaust-era claims against U.S. museums.
Updated Descriptive Catalogue of Looted Judaica
The Claims Conference-WJRO released an updated Descriptive Catalogue of Looted Judaica in 2016.
The Claims Conference assisted heavily in the writing of the Just Act Report which was released in March 2020 by the Office of the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. The 2018 JUST Act bill requires the State Department to investigate and submit a report to Congress on the extent to which endorsees of the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues are meeting their pledges to adopt national laws and policies to help Holocaust survivors identify and reclaim their properties.
Handbook on Judaica Provenance Research: Ceremonial Objects
In 2019, the Claims Conference-WJRO released the Handbook on Judaica Provenance Research: Ceremonial Objects. As of April 2019, thanks to the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media the Handbook is also available in German as “Handbuch Judaica Provenienz Forschung: Zeremonialobjekte“.
This online Handbook is meant to help museum staff, researchers, auctioneers, collectors, lawyers, private persons, dealers and other interested parties to trace Judaica objects that were looted or displaced during the 20th century, especially during World War II. These objects may be found in Jewish and non-Jewish museum collections; in private collections; in Jewish institutions such as communities, synagogues, seminaries; and on the market.
In June 2020, an English translation of the German Lost Art Foundation’s issue of its periodical Provenance & Research on the international conference “20 Years Washington Principles: Roadmap for the Future” held in 2019 was published with an article by Wesley Fisher that was based on the discussions leading up to that conference and that more or less constitutes a statement of policy on cultural property by the Claims Conference-WJRO.
Gurlitt Trove – Statistical Overview
The Claims Conference-WJRO has compiled a statistical review of the research results by the Taskforce Schwabinger Kunstfund as well as by the Gurlitt Provenance Research Project as part of the German Lost Art Foundation.
In April 2022, Dr. Wesley Fisher published an article for the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust entitled “Will the Lost Museum Become the Found Museum?”.
In November 2022, at the occassion of the conference “70 Years of Holocaust Compensation and Restitution,” which took place at ANU- Museum of the Jewish People at Tel Aviv’s University, Wesley Fisher held a speech entitled “From the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization to the 2018 Jerusalem Declaration: The Handling of Looted Cultural Property by the Claims Conference“.
In March 2023, the Claims Conference-WJRO released the report “The ERR Looting of the Julius Genss Collection in Estonia.”
In October 2023, at the occassion of the conference “Just, fair – up to date? – 25 Years of the Washington Principles,” organized by the German Lost Art Foundation, Wesley Fisher held one of the opening speeches. A recording of the conference can be accessed here.