Recent books and film treatments of the Allies' restitution efforts have tended toward the triumphalist. The recovery, safeguarding, and return of looted works has become a story of good overcoming evil. This article seeks to complicate that narrative. The Monuments officers worked in challenging circumstances and sometimes fell short of certain ideals. The Allies' restitution policies evolved amid difficult political realities. The role of art dealers in this complex of issues is also ripe for reassessment. And museum officials outside Germany, both before and after 1945, behaved in ways that raise ethical questions. This article argues for a more-nuanced and balanced appraisal of those involved in the response to Nazi art looting—one that counters hagiographical tendencies both in the scholarly realm and in popular culture.
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1 February 2017
Research Article| February 01 2017
Jonathan Petropoulos; Five Uncomfortable and Difficult Topics Relating to the Restitution of Nazi-Looted Art. New German Critique 1 February 2017; 44 (1 (130)): 125–142. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-3705730
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