Spring naar content
Recommendation regarding the application for the restitution of an eighteenth-century commode in the style of Louis XVI (NK 994)

An eighteenth-century commode in the style of Louis XVI

Report number: RC 1.52

Advice type: NK collection

Advice date: 12 February 2007

Period of loss of ownership: 1940-1945

Original owner: Private individual

Location of loss of ownership: The Netherlands

NK 994 – Eighteenth-century commode in the style of Louis XVI (photo: RCE)

  • NK 994 - Eighteenth-century commode in the style of Louis XVI (photo: RCE)


In a letter dated 23 October 2006, the Minister for Culture, Education and Science (OCW) asked the Restitutions Committee to issue a recommendation regarding a decision to be taken on the application filed on 1 September 2006 by M.W.-K. (hereafter referred to as ‘applicant’), also on behalf of her sister-in-law M.S.K.-L., for the restitution of an eighteenth-century commode in the style of Louis XVI. Recovered from Germany after World War II, the commode is currently part of the Netherlands Art Property Collection (NK 994) and is in storage at the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage.

The procedure

The application for restitution was the result of a letter from the Origins Unknown Agency (hereafter referred to as ‘BHG’) dated 31 March 2006, in which M.W.-K. and M.S.K.-L. were asked for further information about the commode. It was also noted in the letter that the piece of furniture may well have belonged to M. Kaufmann-Parser, the addressees’ mother and mother-in-law, respectively. In response to the application for restitution that was subsequently submitted, the Restitutions Committee instituted a fact-finding investigation, the results of which were summarised in a draft report dated 6 November 2006. This draft report was submitted to the applicant, who informed the Committee by telephone that she had no further comment to make. The report was adopted at a Committee meeting held on 12 February 2007. For the facts of the case, the Committee refers to its investigatory report, which is considered an integral part of this recommendation.

General considerations

a) The Committee has drawn up its opinion with due regard for the relevant (lines of) policy issued by the Ekkart Committee and the government.

b) The Committee asked itself whether it is acceptable that an opinion to be issued is influenced by its potential consequences for decisions in subsequent cases. The Committee resolved that such influence cannot be accepted, save in cases where special circumstances apply, since allowing such influence would be impossible to justify to the applicant concerned.

c) The Committee then asked itself how to deal with the circumstance that certain facts can no longer be ascertained, that certain information has been lost or has not been recovered, or that evidence can no longer be otherwise compiled. On this issue, the Committee believes that if the problems that have arisen can be attributed at least in part to the lapse of time, the associated risk should be borne by the government, save in cases where exceptional circumstances apply.

d) The Committee believes that insights and circumstances which, according to generally accepted views, have evidently changed since the Second World War should be granted the status of new facts.

e) Involuntary loss of possession is also understood to mean sale without the art dealer’s consent by ‘Verwalters’ [Nazi-appointed caretakers who took over management of firms owned by Jews] or other custodians not appointed by the owner of items from the old trading stock under their custodianship, in so far as the original owner or his heirs did not receive all the profits of the transaction, or in so far as the owner did not expressly waive his rights after the war.

Bijzondere overwegingen

  1. The applicant requests the restitution of the commode (NK 994) in her capacity as heir of her mother Marie Kaufmann-Parser. She declares that she is acting on behalf of M.S.K.-L. as well, the daughter-in-law of Marie Kaufmann-Parser and Frits Kaufmann. The Committee has taken note of a certificate of inheritance dated 22 October 1959, in which Frits Kaufmann appointed his wife Marie Kaufmann-Parser and their two children as heirs.
  2. The investigation of the facts revealed the following. When World War II broke out, Marie Kaufmann-Parser and her husband Frits Kaufmann, both of Jewish extraction, were living with their two children at Euterpestraat in Amsterdam. The family subsequently tried to flee to Switzerland via France. Frits Kaufmann was captured in France and deported to Auschwitz, where he died on 6 November 1942. Marie Kaufmann-Parser and her two children managed to get to Switzerland and so were able to survive the war.
  3. After the war, Kaufmann-Parser returned to the Netherlands with her children. The applicant declared that on their return, the contents of the house at Euterpestraat had disappeared. This is confirmed in the files of the Foundation of Jewish Communities and Social Organisations for Damage Reimbursement (JOKOS), which show that the couple’s household and personal effects had been confiscated during the war.
  4. In early 1950, Kaufmann-Parser recognised and claimed the commode at an ‘art recovery’ exhibition held by the Netherlands Art Property Foundation (SNK) in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum. The Committee has taken note of the claim she filed on 14 January 1950. In the period following the exhibition, the director of the SNK, J. Jolles, requested Kaufmann-Parser to provide evidence that the commode had belonged to her. However, Kaufmann-Parser’s statement, and later that of her sister-in-law, were found by the SNK to be inconclusive proof. On the basis of the post-war dossier, the Committee concludes that the SNK’s stringent requirements together with personal circumstances of the witnesses put forward by Kaufmann-Parser were the reason why the procedure was, at the time, unsuccessful. From the foregoing, it can be concluded that the case was never dealt with conclusively in the past, and the Committee therefore considers the application to be admissible.
  5. The Committee is of the opinion that the conditions for restitution have been met. In accordance with the Ekkart Committee’s eighth recommendation from 2001, national policy dictates that art objects ‘can be returned if a plausible case has been made for ownership rights and there are no indications to the contrary’. In view of the fact that Kaufmann-Parser herself recognised the commode at the art recovery exhibition, as did her sister-in-law some time later, the Committee considers it highly plausible that the commode was indeed the property of the Kaufmann-Parser couple at the start of the war. Moreover, the Committee attaches importance to the fact that after seeing the commode on 12 June 2006, the applicant made a statement to the Origins Unknown Agency declaring that the piece of furniture was identical to the one that was formerly at her parents’ house. The Committee also considers that the confiscation of the furniture establishes the involuntary nature of the Kaufmann-Parsers’ loss of possession, as a result of circumstances directly associated with the Nazi regime.

Given the above, the Committee considers the applicant’s claim for the restitution of the commode admissible.


The Restitutions Committee advises the Minister for Education, Culture and Science to return the commode (NK 994) to the heirs of M. Kaufmann-Parser.

Adopted at the meeting of 12 February 2007,

B.J. Asscher (chair)
J.Th.M. Bank
J.C.M. Leijten
P.J.N. van Os
E.J. van Straaten
H.M. Verrijn Stuart
I.C. van der Vlies