Professor Rado Pribic will be visiting museums and other locations in Germany and Austria in June and July to research the looting of art objects during the Nazi Era and the restitution of those objects to the families of the rightful owners.
Pribic, Williams Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures and chair of international affairs, will use the knowledge gained from his travels this summer to plan a conference to be held at Lafayette next year on the subject of “Looting of Art Objects during the Nazi Era and its Restitution.” Pribic will also use his research in his classes, including the First-Year Seminar he teaches on Germany’s Third Reich, and possibly a publication.
Pribic will collaborate with Diane Ahl, Rothkopf Professor of Art History, to invite speakers and select videos and other relevant material for the planned conference, which is tentatively scheduled for spring 2011 and will be open to members of the local community and Lafayette students.
The interdisciplinary conference will involve the international affairs program, the art and history departments, Hillel Society, and the Max Kade Center for German Studies. There may also be opportunities for Lafayette students to conduct research and report on their findings at the conference.
Pribic will begin his project in Frankfurt, where there is currently an exhibit on the looting of art owned by Frankfurt’s Jewish families. His next stop will be Linz, Austria, near Adolf Hitler’s birthplace in Braunau, where Hitler planned to establish an enormous museum with art confiscated from throughout Europe. Pribic will also visit art galleries and archives in Vienna, Munich, and other locations, investigating the particular local histories of looting and restitution in these places.
Pribic says restitution of confiscated art is a complex subject, complicated by national property laws, questions about whether transfers of art were voluntary or non-voluntary, the fact that many stolen art pieces are still missing, and other factors.
“Especially in Austria, some art galleries still exhibit looted art pieces that were legitimately bought after the war from art dealers and therefore not yet returned to the legitimate owners. Several laws, such as those with statues of limitations, make it very difficult for the legitimate owners to reclaim their families’ property,” Pribic explains.