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Looted Art and Restitution in the Netherlands: A Historical Overview

During the twelve years the Nazis were in power between 1933 and 1945, art was looted on an unprecedented scale. After the war only a small proportion of the works were returned to the owners – most of whom were Jewish – or their descendants. The following timeline tells the story of this looted art and how it was dealt with in the Netherlands after the war. The timeline covers both the ‘Big Picture’ and individual fates.

‘Claimtentoonstelling’ van schilderijen, tekeningen en tapijten in het Rijksmuseum, 1950


30 January 1933 Hitler Comes to Power in Germany

7 April 1933 Jewish Civil Servants in Germany are Dismissed

Starting in 1933 Jewish Enterprises Forced out of Business

Starting in 1933 Jews and Political Opponents of the Nazis Flee Germany

Starting in 1934 The Reich Capital Flight Tax (Reichsfluchtsteuer) Used to Dispossess German Jews

15 September 1935 The Nuremberg Race Laws Promulgated

13 March 1938 The Annexation (Anschluss) of Austria

From 1938 Anti-Jewish Measures in Germany Introduced Even Faster

From 1939 A Policy Aimed at Emigration Becomes a Policy Aimed at Murder

10 May 1940 The Nazis Occupy the Netherlands

From May 1940 Jews Also Persecuted in the Netherlands

From May 1940 Looting Organization the Mühlmann Agency Starts Work in the Netherlands

From October 1940 Removal of Jews from Economic Life

From 1941 Complete Isolation of Jews in the Netherlands

8 August 1941 The First Liro Regulation: Jews Had to Surrender Their Financial Assets

21 May 1942 The Second Liro Regulation: Jews Had to Surrender Their Valuable Possessions

From July 1942 Mass Deportations Begin, Homes are Looted

5 January 1943 The Dutch Government in London Signs the Joint Anti-Looting Declaration

17 September 1944 The Dutch Government in London Issues the Restitution of Legal Rights Decree

8 May 1945 Europe Liberated: The Process of Repatriating Artworks Commences

11 June 1945 Establishment of the Netherlands Art Property Foundation (SNK): The Process of Restituting Artworks Begins

1953 No Longer Possible to Submit Restitution Applications

1995 The Spoils of War Symposium in New York

1995-1998 The World Jewish Congress Holds Swiss Banks to Account Concerning Dormant Accounts

1997 London Conference on Nazi Gold

1997-1998 Ekkart Committee Formed and Conducts Trial Investigation

1998-1999 Dutch Museums Investigate Their Acquisitions during the 1940-1948 Period

1 September 1998 Origins Unknown Agency (BHG) Established

30 November - 3 December 1998 Publication of the Washington Principles during the Washington Conference

4 November 1999 The Council of Europe Adopts the Looted Jewish Cultural Property Resolution

2000 The Netherlands Formulates Provisional Policy Rules for Handling Individual Restitution Applications

26 April 2001 The Ekkart Committee Presents Interim Recommendations about Art Looted from Private Individuals

23 December 2001 The Restitutions Committee is Established

28 January 2003 The Ekkart Committee Publishes Its Recommendations for the Art Trade

14 December 2004 The Ekkart Committee Submits Its Final Recommendations to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science

November 2006 - March 2007 The Exhibition Looted, But From Whom? Is Staged in Amsterdam

7 April 2008 The Restitutions Committee Issues Its First Binding Opinion

2009-2013 Part Two of National Museum Study

June 2009 The Netherlands Signs the Terezin Declaration

2012 The Netherlands Amends Its Restitution Policy: ‘Reasonableness and Fairness’ Become the Underlying Principle

September 2018 The Restitutions Committee’s Research Team Becomes Part of the New Expert Centre Restitution (ECR)

7 December 2020 The Kohnstamm Committee Presents Its Evaluation Report About Dutch Restitution Policy

15 April 2021 The Dutch Government Approves a New Assessment Framework for Restitution Applications

This timeline was compiled by the Restitutions Committee, based in part on texts written by its former employees Evelien Campfens, Floris Kunert, Annemarie Marck and Eelke Muller. The Restitutions Committee is responsible for the content of this timeline.