International Day of Provenance Research

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) conduct a comprehensive program toward the restitution of Jewish-owned art, Judaica, and other cultural property lost and plundered during the Holocaust. Information on the Claims Conference/WJRO Looted Art and Cultural Property Initiative may be found on a newly redesigned website.  The Claims Conference/WJRO work with relevant governments and Jewish communities around the world on systemic issues, with emphasis on public institutional provenance research and the creation of a just and simple claims process in all countries.

The Claims Conference/WJRO sponsor various projects toward these goals. Among them is Dr. Patricia Kennedy Grimsted’s Reconstructing the Record of Nazi Cultural Plunder: A Guide to the Dispersed Archives of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) and the Postwar Retrieval of ERR Loot, with recent online publication of updated and expanded chapters on Germany and France.  Research on the ERR looting of libraries in France and Belgium, with information on libraries looted in the Netherlands soon to be added, may be seen at.   We are pleased that the largest collection of ERR documents in the world, that held in Kyiv by the Central State Archive of the Highest Organs of Government and Administration of Ukraine (TsDAVO) and scanned under the sponsorship of the Claims Conference-WJRO is now back online after shifting from Russian software and servers and despite the current war, with improved finding-aids under development. The available fonds (fonds 3674, 3676 and 3206) not only document the ERR’s plunder in Ukraine itself but hold valuable information on other countries and on private collections, including that of Julius Genss, a Jewish collector from Estonia. A report on the looting of the Genss’ collection is forthcoming.

The Claims Conference/WJRO is a co-founder of the Jewish Digital Cultural Recovery Project Stiftung (JDCRP Foundation).  Based on the experience of the Database of Art Objects at the Jeu de Paume, the Foundation aims to  test the feasibility of creating a comprehensive database of Jewish-owned objects of art looted by the National Socialists and their allies between 1933 and 1945.   Results of an initial pilot project, co-funded by the European Union, The Fate of the Adolphe Schloss Collection, were released in July 2021.  Work is expected to continue through populating the JDCRP Database with mass data, as well as more detailed examination of specific collections and related projects on persecuted Jewish artists and Jewish collectors. 

Additional projects in advocacy, provenance research, Judaica, and related areas, as well as listings of resources may be seen on our website.  The most recent addition is a presentation of research papers and worldwide progress reports written by the Claims Conference/WJRO Looted Art and Cultural Property Initiative.

April 13, 2022