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Munich Museums and the 1939 Silver Plunder

Matthias Weniger, Bavarian National Museum

April 18, 2023 · 5:00 pm6:30 pm · 219 Aaron Burr Hall

Department of Art & Archaeology; Princeton University Art Museum

In the spring of 1939, Jews living throughout lands under Nazi government were compelled to bring all their households’ precious metal and jewelry to sixty-six designated pawnshops. The pawnbrokers sold the silver to silversmiths, dealers, refineries, individuals, and, not least, to museums. Many museums restituted part of these sinister accessions in the 1950s and 1960s, but some of the silver remains part of institutional collections. This talk by the Head of Provenance Research at the Bavarian National Museum describes his current work actively to seek the heirs of that silver, and return the objects to the families from whom they were taken. This work is distinct from much contemporary restitution practice: it involves direct contact with descendent communities and reckons with the history of the objects, which were made for the daily and often religious use of persecuted ancestors. In many cases, the objects, many of them candlesticks and kiddush cups, are all that remains from existences wiped out by the shoa.

This event is open to the public and registration is requested for space planning purposes.

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