During World War II the Soviet Union did not join the Allied restitution effort. Instead, more than two and a half million objects (not counting millions of books) were transported to the Soviet Union from its zone of occupation in Germany and from other European countries occupied by the Red Army. During the 1950s the Khrushchev government restituted collections from East Germany and western Poland. However, millions of artworks and books were kept in secret depositories until the beginning of perestroika. The problem of so-called cultural trophies provoked heated discussions in the Russian Federation and in many senses became a mirror reflecting Russian policy changes and predicting the transformation of the failed liberal democracy into an authoritarian state.

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