Tuesday, May 31, 2011

German university loses Egyptian collection bought under Nazis

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref)

A German court ruled that the University of Leipzig must hand over its 150 ancient Egyptian artefacts to the Jewish Claims Conference (JCC) as compensation for Holocaust victims and their descendants.

This collection came into the possession of the museum of the University of Leipzig in 1936 when the late Jewish professor Georg Steindorff, who held Leipzig’s Egyptology chair, sold it to the museum. Steindorff possessed this collection since 1915 when he excavated the site located to the west of King Khufu’s necropolis in the Giza plateau in a German mission. In accordance with Egyptian law at the time, he received 50 per cent of the discovered artefacts.

Al Masry Al Youm

A pharaonic artifact that was smuggled out of Egypt, taken to Germany, and is now in an Israeli institution must be returned, Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass announced Saturday.

The piece was discovered in Egypt in 1910, west of Khufu Pyramid. An archeologist called George Steindorff took it, along with half the pharaonic artifacts found by the expedition, for display in museums and universities.

Hawass told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the University of Leipzig in Germany gave the artifact to a committee for the victims of the Holocaust.

Monsters and Critics

The University of Leipzig is to lose an ancient Egyptian collection which it bought in 1936 from a Jewish professor, Georg Steindorff, a court ruled Thursday.

A court in Berlin decided that the collection must be handed to the Jewish Claims Conference (JCC), as Steindorff had sold it for a value far below its actual worth.

Leipzig university could produce no evidence to counter the charge that Steindorff had been forced to sell his collection under Nazi rule.

1 comment:

KCB said...

The case is quite complicated. The mentioned citations mix things up completely.
cf. e.g. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-30/jewish-heir-fights-restitution-wants-museum-to-keep-grandfather-s-legacy.html for other aspects of the story.