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The restitution of Nazi-looted art in post-fascist Austria, Italy and West Germany

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The restitution of looted cultural heritage is one of hottest topics of the year. Countless bottles of ink have been spent over what has emphatically been portrayed as the ‘biggest art theft in history’ and subsequent attempts to ‘make amends’. This paper analyses the process of restitution of national as well as Jewish-owned private collections as it unfolded in the three main post-fascist Western European countries – i.e. Austria, Italy and the Federal Republic of Germany. Can we indeed talk of a ‘fifty-year wait for justice’, and how did restitution practices, or lack thereof, contribute to the reconstruction of these national communities?

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Humanities Society talks series.

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