Last week a handwritten catalogue of Hermann Goering, Hitler’s right-hand man was published in France. The Goering Catalogue is a comprehensive record of the thefts committed by Nazis during the World War II, and it encompasses information on more than 1500 paintings and other pieces of art looted from Jews and other individuals and families who were sent to the concentration camps. This exceptional document was, until now, a part of the French diplomatic archives, accessible only to scholars and people with special authorization.
During the World War II war genocide committed by the Nazi Germany were followed by possibly one of the greatest art looting events in history. It is not a secret that Hermann Goering was an art enthusiast and that he used his office power to surround himself with the most valuable and beautiful pieces of art. The looted pieces of art, stolen from the Jewish families and collectors, museum collections and others were transported to Carinhall during the war, Hermann Goering’s estate near Berlin. In the final days of the war, the collection which included some of the greatest works of European masters was sent to Bavaria in private trains where they were stopped from reaching their destination by the Allied Forces. Goering’s collection was subject of many publications in the past and the authors tried to put together the list of the works in his collection based on wartime archives and Goering's letters to his dealers.
Last Wednesday, in collaboration with the French government, the publishing house Flammarion released the content of the handwritten book of the Nazi leader confiscated by the French soldiers at the end of World War II. It is the first time the complete catalogue is available to the general public. A meticulous bookkeeper, Goering listed each artwork which was sent to Carinhall with details explaining the name of the piece, its creator, description, quality and origin of the artwork and some special notes where it should be placed in his residence. The list of the artworks stolen from Jewish collectors consists of 1,400 paintings, and more than 400 sculptures and tapestries including the works of Botticelli, Velazquez, Renoir, Monet and Van Gogh. The Goering collection is still outnumbered by Hitler’s.
The descendants of the families who were robbed of their art possessions during the war are hoping to finally recover their inherited property. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the author of the catalogue preface is himself a descendant of Jewish art collectors who were stripped of their valuable possessions during the war which is one of the reasons he was trying to speed up the restoration process and translation of the catalogue. French officials and the representatives of the World Jewish Congress are hoping that the availability of the publication will enable rightful owners to recover their property and to push forward the overdue restoration of Nazi-looted art.
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Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering in 1937.
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