CONFERENCE ON JEWISH MATERIAL CLAIMS AGAINST GERMANY
Descriptive Catalogue of Looted Judaica
In a major first step to ensure that Jewish sacred items looted during the Holocaust era are identified and protected, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) has produced the Descriptive Catalogue of Looted Judaica, the first attempt since the end of World War II to identify the locations worldwide of Judaica spoliated by Nazi Germany and its allies or otherwise lost during the Holocaust or immediately afterward.
The catalogue is available at http://forms.claimscon.org/Judaica and through the homepage of the Claims Conference at http://www.claimscon.org. The definition of Judaica encompasses items used in prayer, such as Torah scrolls and tefillin, ritual items such as Sabbath candlesticks and Passover Seder Plates, archives, libraries, and everyday objects whether relating to Judaism as a religion or to Jewish life generally and whether originally owned by communities or individuals.
After a summary of the history of Nazi looting of Judaica and of restitution efforts after the war in regard to Judaica, information is presented for 47 separate countries. For each country, projects to identify looted Judaica are described, if they exist, followed by discussion of objects of Judaica in the country that are known to have been looted or to have gaps in their provenance that have been identified in databases, publications, or other sources. In some instances, information exists on the individual object level, while in other cases only more general descriptions of looted collections as a whole are available. The Descriptive Catalogue of Looted Judaica also contains a list of relevant archives; a bibliography; and a list of the leading experts in the field throughout the world.
The compilation is based on information from existing published and unpublished literature and archives, as well as information obtained from experts in various countries. The intention is not to repeat or duplicate already existing work on the subject but to make accessible and piece together information on the subject into a more readily searchable form.
This catalogue is a continuation of efforts by the Claims Conference and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) to promote the restitution of Holocaust-era looted art and cultural property. Although much media focus in recent years has been on art looted by the Nazis, the issue of looted Judaica is of perhaps even greater moral importance.
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) represents world Jewry in negotiating for compensation and restitution for victims of Nazi persecution and their heirs. The Claims Conference administers compensation funds, recovers unclaimed Jewish property, and allocates funds to institutions that provide social welfare services to Holocaust survivors and preserve the memory and lessons of the Shoah.
Ruth Jolanda Weinberger
Researcher, Looted Jewish Art and Cultural Property Initiative
1359 Broadway, Room 2020, New York, NY 10018
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