740.00119 Control (Germany)/12–2845

Memorandum for the Coordinating Committee, Allied Control Authority 59

CORC/P (45)185
(DRDR/P (45)14 Revise)

Interim Restitution Deliveries (Cultural Objects)

Pending settlement of the outstanding problems of restitution it is proposed that interim measures shall be put into force forthwith [Page 956] for the return of Works of Art and other Cultural Objects taken by the Germans from territories now liberated.
It is proposed that this interim measure shall be applied to identifiable Cultural Objects which have been the subject of an act of dispossession by the enemy and which were located in a liberated territory and removed by the Germans subsequent to the date of the German occupation of that territory. As a first step restitution will be confined to cultural objects whose identification is easy and whose ownership is well known. As soon as adequate machinery for restitution has been developed and transport facilities have improved the scheme will be broadened correspondingly.
For the purposes of this paper the term ‘Cultural Objects’ is defined as all movable goods of importance or value either religious, artistic, documentary, scholarly or historic, the disappearance of which constitutes a loss to the cultural heritage of the country concerned. This definition includes as well as recognized Works of Art, such objects as rare musical instruments, books and manuscripts, scientific documents of an historic or cultural nature, and all objects usually found in museums, collections, libraries and historic archives.
The claimant countries will be asked to forward to each Allied Headquarters in card form, a description of the looted Cultural Objects believed to be situated in his Zone, giving all possible information which will assist establishing the identity of the object and the fact that it originated from the claimant country. (See Inclosure No. 260)
Each Headquarters will maintain a record of the looted Cultural Objects that have been reported by its staff or declared by Germans to be located in that Zone on prescribed property inventory cards. Where objects included in the lists received from claimant countries have not yet been traced the Headquarters will cause inquiries to be made where circumstances permit. (See Inclosure No. 160)
As and when information concerning the reputed discovery of looted Cultural Objects comes to light it will be communicated to the Government concerned.
In the case of each object to be transferred to an Allied Government, the Headquarters will appoint two experts to act as adjudicators and will invite the Government concerned to send one expert representative of its own. These three experts will form a panel which shall decide—
That the identification of the object claimed has been established.
That the object was removed from the claimant country by the Germans.
Whether or not the condition of the object is such as to make its restitution satisfactory to the claimant country.
The findings and recommendations of the panel of experts will be reported to the Headquarters which, where return of the object is recommended, will authorize its return to the claimant country. Each Headquarters will submit to the R.D. & R. Directorate of the Control Council monthly reports of restitution completed in its Zone during the previous month.
To facilitate arrangements claimant countries will be asked, when necessary,61 to establish a liaison officer at an appropriate office of the Zone Headquarters. Liaison Officers will be required to act as link between claimant countries and the Headquarters staff on all matters in connection with claims for restitution of Cultural Objects including the visits of experts.
Visiting experts will come to Germany as representatives of the claimant Governments and not as representatives of firms or individuals of such countries. An object, even though private property, will be restored to the representative of the claimant Government acting on behalf of the individual concerned and not to that individual.
The claimant country, through its Liaison Officers, will make the necessary arrangements for packing, loading and transporting the property to be removed through the Military Government Authorities. Where practical difficulties exist the Headquarters may assist with transport and packing. Costs of transportation within Germany and of labour and materials necessary for packing will be borne by Germany. The question of responsibilities for loss or damage in packing and transportation has still to be decided but the Occupying Power will not accept any liability in this connection.62
The properly authorized representative of the country concerned will, at the time of transfer, give an official receipt for the object in the form hereto attached. (Inclosure No. 363)
The Headquarters will maintain proper statistics in connection with objects identified and returned.
  1. This paper was sent to the Department with despatch 1589, December 28, from Berlin (not printed). The memorandum had been accepted by the Reparation, Deliveries and Restitution Directorate, where it originated, and submitted to the twenty-sixth meeting of the Coordinating Committee on December 12, where it was also approved with the changes indicated. A brief report on the approval of this document is contained in paragraph 3 of telegram 1252, December 13, 2 p.m., from Berlin, vol. iii, p. 1462.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. The Coordinating Committee approved a proposal by the Soviet member, Army General Vassily Danilovich Sokolovsky, that at this point there be inserted the words: “and with permission of the Zone Commander”. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/12–2845)
  5. The Coordinating Committee approved the proposal of the British member, Lt. Gen. Sir Brian Robertson, that the last two sentences of this paragraph be stricken and the following substituted: “Relevant transportation expenses within the present German frontiers and any repairs necessary for proper transportation, including the necessary manpower, material and organization, are to be borne by Germany and are included in restitutions. Expenses outside Germany are borne by the recipient country.” (740.00119 Control (Germany )/12–2845)
  6. Not printed.