World War II in the News is a review of WWII articles providing thought-provoking collection of hand-picked WW2 information.

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Art stolen by Russia during WWII

Art stolen and looted by Russia during World War II.
Latest hand-picked WWII news.

A Holocaust survivor's family can keep a $10 million ancient relic the survivor exchanged for cigarettes after WWII
The family of a Holocaust survivor can keep a $10million ancient gold tablet he exchanged for several packets of cigarettes in post-war Berlin. Berlin's Vorderasiatisches Museum had demanded the 3,200-year-Assyrian artefact be returned because it was looted by the Red Army soldiers in 1945. But a judge on Long Island has ruled that Auschwitz survivor Riven Flamenbaum's family no longer has to give back the tablet. The solid-gold tablet was dug up in the ruins of an Iraq temple in 1913 by German archeologist Walter Andrae and was sent to Germany before being displayed at the Vorderasiatisches Museum.

46 countries promised to increase efforts to return Nazi looted art
"A major accomplishment" was how Stuart Eizenstat, head of the U.S. delegation to the Prague Holocaust Assets Conference, described the outcome of the 5-day event. Delegates from 46 countries gathered for the biggest Holocaust assets conference since Washington in 1998. They emerged with the Terezin Declaration: a public promise to do more to rectify the Nazi theft of 650,000 works of art and also substantial amounts of Nazi-seized property. The Jewish Claims Conference said only 1/3 of the 44 countries who agreed to the Washington principles had made significant progress, naming Hungary, Poland, Spain and Italy that have made no progress at all.

Russia returns 6 stained glass windows, looted during WWII, to Frankfurt
Russia has returned 6 medieval stained glass window panes ransacked by the Soviet Red Army in 1945 to a church in Frankfurt an der Oder. The 700-year-old windows were believed lost or destroyed until 2005, when they were stumbled upon by a Russian art historian at a cloister outside Moscow. The first 111 panels, in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, were returned by Russia in 2002. Another 3 years would pass before the last 6 panels would be restored to the Marienkirche, the Church of Our Lady. The panels were stashed away in the basement of the Potsdam Neues Palais to protect them from bombing, but they were seized by Red Army soldiers as war booty in 1945.

German art looted by Soviet Red Army turns up in Sotheby, London
Lithographs that once belonged to a German Duke and disappeared when the Soviets occupied parts of Germany after World War II, have turned up at Sotheby's in London. The 249 lithographs, worth 250,000 euros, were to be auctioneered in London in June, when a German art collector id'ed them as pieces presented to the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin by the Russian Tsar before the First World War. "The two cassettes belong to a set of 3, which vanished when the Soviets looted German properties in the summer of 1946," said Andreas Roloff, the director of rarities at a government library in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany.

Germany thanks Russia for 1.5 million returned looted relics, asks for the rest 1 million back
50 years ago, the Soviet Union returned 1.5 million art treasures - looted at the end of World War 2 - to East Germany. 28 German museums are setting up exhibitions to say thank you. Gratitude is one half of the message. The other is: Can we have the rest 1 million works back now too? Ever since reunification in 1990, Germany has been gently coercing Russia for the return of the art. Many Russians, including museum directors, view the booty as lawful compensation for Soviet treasures looted by Adolf Hitler's armies. Under Russian law, German art looted by Stalin's Soviet Trophy Commission is Russian state property.

Russia revealed details of 46,000 artworks missing after Nazi looting
A new online database will help scholars and the art market locate cultural treasures. A site, , is in Russian with printed editions in English. 13 volumes have the 46,000 artworks from 13 museums, and another volume lists 3,541 rare books, manuscripts and letters. Also, there are almost 1.1 million archive files missing. The Nazis invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. By the war's end in May 1945, much of the western part of USSR was in ruins. 423 Soviet museums were damaged by the Nazis. The Nazis had art brigades to systematically loot museums and ship the works to Nazi Germany.

Charles Wheeler follows the trail of World War II's looted art - Podcast
With the assistance of Anne Webber, from the Commission for Looted Art, Charles Wheeler traces the theft by the Nazis of millions of paintings, book and tapestries - and the removal of that same treasure to Russia by Stalin's trophy brigades at the end of the war. Many of these works are still thought hidden inside secret repositories - but as he finds out in Moscow and St Petersburg, a fierce and hysterical defence of the past and an anti-German rhetoric seldom heard these days, still keeps the truth from being told. Will these valuable items remain as Europe's last prisoners of war.

With Nazi Germany in ruins, the Red Army seized millions art objects
From 1933 Nazi Germany systematically looted millions of works of art from individuals and the nations. The largest mass theft in history. But at the end of WWII, with Third Reich in ruins, expert teams from the Red Army seized two and a half million art objects, 12 million books and miles of archives. Trophies of war but the Red Army, in its haste to seize so much, also brought back thousands of works of art belonging to the victims of Nazism. All of it was locked away in secrecy for 50 years, until two Soviet researchers disclosed all. [Listen to BBC podcast]

Russia to return looted medieval stained glass windows to Germany
Russia will return to Germany the last 6 of 117 stained glass window panels taken by the Red Army in 1945 from the church of Marienkirche in Frankfurt an der Oder. The decision to return the windows, held in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, was made in a Cabinet session. In 2002, Russia returned 111 of the 117 stained glass windows under a program on the exchange of looted art. After the draft federal law specifying the procedure of exchange is approved by the State Duma, the remaining windows will be returned to the church in eastern Germany. Russia has claimed a number of German works of art as compensation for the damage the Soviet Union suffered.

German museums worried about art looted by the Soviets
Germany has been trying for years to repatriate art looted by the Soviets. Its museums are now worried that a new directive from Russia's culture ministry will make it tougher to track down the priceless works, some 180000 works. The Hague Convention requires art treasures seized by occupying forces to be returned. In 1990, Germany and the Soviet Union committed themselves to returning art objects that had been looted during the war. But just a few years later, Russia declared that artworks taken from Germany were Russian property. "The Russian government is rewriting inventories because it wants to incorporate these items permanently in its own collections."

Stolen by Stalin - Soviet and Allied art looting during World War II
A new chapter is about to begin in the history of art looting during WWII. Up until now, focus has been on the Nazis' pitiless theft of art treasures. Less well-known is that, at the close of the war, Germany's art treasures were plundered just as ruthlessly. On the part of the western allies, this consisted of individual looting, such as the American army lieutenant who stole $200 million worth of treasures. On the part of the Soviet Union art plunder was conducted as a matter of state policy (viewed as the spoils of war). 180,000 items were lost, chiefly to the Soviet Union, and now Germany has at last begun to ask for the return of that art.

Photo Gallery: Looted German Treasure on Show in Moscow
Russia has unveiled cultural treasures looted from Germany after the end of World War II in an exhibition in Pushkin museum. The museum is showing objects from the Merovingian era seized by Red Army soldiers from a Nazi bunker in Berlin in May and June 1945.

Red Army, not the Nazis, destroyed tsar's Amber Room
"The Amber Room: The Untold Story of the Greatest Hoax of the Twentieth Century" reveals that The Amber Room, the tsarist chamber looted from Russia by the Nazis and which disappeared, was destroyed by the Red Army. Previously unseen documents reveal that in 1945 Russian soldiers burned down the hall where the treasure was stored in a castle in Germany founded by the Teutonic knights. Historians have hoped that the "eighth wonder of the world" had escaped damage and was hidden, waiting to be found. The jewel encrusted room was created for Peter the Great in 1717 and was considered one of the world's greatest art treasures.