Sunday, June 07, 2015

Raubkunst/Stolen Art Alert in Vienna: Austrian State Treaty of 1955 Requires Austria To Return Nazi Looted Art, Austrian Politicians Continue To Lie

Egon Schiele's Dead City III - Stolen from Fritz Grunbaum

Austria's Shameful Disregard of Its Continuing Treaty Obligations

The Austria State Treaty of 1995 permitted the Russians, French, British and U.S. to depart occupied Vienna.   It was written in English, Russian and French so that the rest of the world could understand exactly what Austria had promised to do.   Below is Article 26 of the Treaty.   It says that Austria is supposed to find and return all property belonging to Jews.

Article 26 was a key aspect of the Allied victory in World War II.  American soldiers lost their lives for Article 26, and the U.S. State Department should wake up and demand Austria's obedience to its obligations.

To its shame, Austria and its politicians have lied to the world and done everything possible to ensure that the children and grandchildren of Nazis could enjoy the property stolen from Vienna's Jews.

The Austria State Treaty is the legal equivalent of the U.S. Constitution.  So if an Austrian tells you that an Austrian law prevents Austria from giving back property stolen from Jews, they are simply lying.   In 2009 I confronted Austrian diplomats with the text of Article 26 at a conference in Prague after they denied Austria's ongoing treaty obligations to despoiled Holocaust victims.

Harvey Weinstein's Woman in Gold with Helen Mirren opened in Vienna on this June 4 to a firestorm of press.  Let's hope that Austrians learn from Hollywood and demand that their politicians start to follow the law of their land, rather than shaming Austria in endless litigation in US courts.
Article 26



1. In so far as such action has not already been taken, Austria undertakes

that, in all cases where property, legal rights or interests in Austria have since

13th March, 1938, been subject of forced transfer or measures of sequestration,

confiscation or control on account of the racial origin or religion of the owner,

the said property shall be returned and the said legal rights and interests shall

be restored together with their accessories. Where return or restoration is

impossible, compensation shall be granted for losses incurred by reason of such

measures to the same extent as is, or may be, given to Austrian nationals generally

in respect of war damage.

2. Austria agrees to take under its control all property, legal rights and

interests in Austria of persons, organizations or communities which, individually

or as members of groups, were the object of racial, religious or other Nazi measures

of persecution where, in the case of persons, such property, rights and interests

remain heirless or unclaimed for six months after the coming into force of the

present Treaty, or where in the case of organizations and communities such

organizations or communities have ceased to exist. Austria shall transfer such

property, rights and interests to appropriate agencies or organizations to be

designated by the Four Heads of Mission in Vienna by agreement with the Austrian

Government to be used for the relief and rehabilitation of victims of

persecution by the Axis Powers, it being understood that these provisions do

not require Austria to make payments in foreign exchange or other transfers

to foreign countries which would constitute a burden on the Austrian economy.

Such transfer shall be effected within eighteen months from the coming into

force of the present Treaty and shall include property, rights and interests required

to be restored under paragraph 1, of this Article.
 Copyright law, fine art and navigating the courts. All practice, no theory.Copyright Litigation Handbook (Thomson Reuters Westlaw 2014-2015) by Raymond J. Dowd
 Copyright Litigation Handbook on Westlaw

1 comment:

Unknown said...

At least lawyers like you are continuing to bring attention to the case. It may not change things, but it's the only thing that could change things. Hopefully this lawsuit resolves the way it should. I can't believe its gone on so long.