SHARE
COPY LINK

NAZIS

French court returns WWII looted Pissarro painting to Jewish family

A French court on Tuesday ordered the return of a painting by impressionist master Camille Pissarro to the family of a Jewish art collector dispossessed during World War II.

French court returns WWII looted Pissarro painting to Jewish family
A visitor walks past a giant photograph featuring a US soldier holding up a painting looted by the Nazis from a Jewish family in Paris. Achive photo: AFP

The court ruled in favour of the relatives of Simon Bauer, a wealthy businessman whose assets were seized in 1943 by the anti-Semitic wartime French government which collaborated with the Nazis.

“La Cueillette des Pois” (Picking Peas) had been at the centre of a dispute with its current owners, American couple Bruce and Robbi Toll, who said they
bought it in good faith.

“My clients will be very disappointed not to be able to retrieve this painting, they were very attached to it. They will certainly appeal,” the couple's lawyer Ron Soffer said.

“They do not consider that it is up to them for pay for the crimes of the Vichy regime.”

Bauer's descendants spotted an opportunity to retrieve the painting earlier this year when they realised the Tolls, who bought it at Christie's in New
York in 1995 for $800,000 (690,000 euros), had lent it to the Marmottan museum in Paris.

The family launched legal action and in May a court granted their request to have the 1887 painting impounded pending a ruling on its on ownership.

The verdict mirrors other legal disputes around art and property looted from Jews by the Nazis which was subsequently sold on, sometimes to new owners who did not know its history.

Out of 650,000 stolen pieces, about 100,000 had not been returned by 2009, according to figures released at that year's Holocaust Era Assets Conference.

NAZIS

Outrage in France after Nazi massacre memorial defaced

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday vowed that everything would be done to find out who defaced a memorial for one of the worst single massacres in France by the Nazis during World War II.

Outrage in France after Nazi massacre memorial defaced
The word 'martyr' was crossed out and the word 'liars' written in its place. Photo: Pascal Lachenaud/AFP
French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday vowed that everything would be done to find out who defaced a memorial for one of the worst single massacres in France by the Nazis during World War II.
   
Politicians from across the spectrum denounced the desecration of the main entrance sign for the memorial at Oradour-sur-Glane in central France, where 642 people were slaughtered on June 10, 1944 by a German SS division.
   
The word “martyr” was crossed out in the sign with white paint.
   
A blue cover was placed over the sign on Saturday, but images on social media accounts indicated the word in French for “liar” had been added next to it along with other slogans claiming to deny the massacre had taken place.
 
 
The inscriptions were discovered on Friday morning when the memorial centre opened, its president Fabrice Escure told AFP.
 
“It is a complete outrage,” he said, adding that a legal complaint had already been filed and security cameras may be able to provide evidence.
   
On June 10, 1944, Nazi forces sealed off the village after reports a senior SS commander had been captured by the French resistance.
   
They grouped together all the men of the village in barns and shot them and then forced the women and children into a church which was set on fire.
 
 After the war, resistance leader and later president Charles de Gaulle ordered that the village not be rebuilt but left in ruins as a reminder. A new village was built nearby.
   
The memorial centre, now visited by 300,000 every year, was later constructed to assist visitors.
   
“Everything will be done to ensure that the authors of this are brought to justice,” Macron said in a statement released by the Elysee Palace, adding that he condemned in the most vehement terms this “unspeakable” act.
   
“To violate this place of reflection is also to violate the memory of our martyrs,” added Prime Minister Jean Castex.
   
The incident comes amid growing concern in France over remembering World War II, after repeated vandalisation attacks on Jewish cemeteries.   
 
“What shocks me is that we do not realise that children and women lost their lives in excruciating pain,” Robert Hebras, 95, the last man still alive among half a dozen men from the village who survived the massacre.
   
“What I fear is that everyone will now talk about Oradour for 48 hours and then that we stop and then we will forget,” he told AFP.
SHOW COMMENTS