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.
PROPERTY, RIGHTS AND INTERESTS OF MINORITY GROUPS
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