What About Art Treasures Looted by the Communists?

By:  Daniel Nardini

                  Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary It was all over the news. Some of the long vanished art treasures stolen by the Nazis before and during World War II have been found in the attic of an apartment complex that were held by the son of a former high ranking Nazi named Hildrebrand Gurlitt (ironically, because his maternal grandmother was Jewish, the Nazis kept him at arms-length. This actually saved him from the Allied gallows when he was interrogated after the war). A lot of the art treasures found had been stolen from those Jewish families that had fled Germany, and many had also been stolen from art museums in Europe when the Germans occupied much of Europe.
                   At least the German government is trying to return that which had been stolen. I hope they can find the museums or individuals or surviving families to return these fine pieces of art to. This is more than I can say for the art treasures looted by the Communists during and after World War II. The Russians looted vast amounts of German art treasures from Germany’s museums and private homes. Because they have claimed all of this as “war booty,” they have refused to return any of it. But then what about Poland? The Russian Communists, under then Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s orders, also looted Polish museums and private homes. What justification did the Russians have for this? To this day a lot of what was taken from Poland has never been returned.
                     And then there is the case of the People’s Republic of China. The current Chinese government has claimed that all the art treasures that had been taken by the “imperialists” (i.e. European countries plus the United States and Japan) over the past 100 years should be returned to China. I find this thoroughly hypocritical when the Chinese Communists looted hundreds of thousands of art treasures from Tibet. Until they return the art treasures they took from the Tibetan people it is hard to take the Chinese government seriously on what art treasures China should get back. And in regards to North Korea, the North Korean government is guilty of having looted what art treasures it get its hands on when it occupied South Korea during the Korean War. To this day neither China nor North Korea have returned any of the art treasures that these two governments had looted.
                       This part of the story is still being missed by much of the world. Part of the reason why this story is being missed is because the current Chinese and North Korean governments are still in control, and they will most certainly never acknowledge they stole anything much less they should return it. But I find it important that if nothing else the publicity that the Communists, no matter where they are, should remain shined on the wrongs and crimes they committed—which includes the grand theft of priceless art treasures they are still keeping.

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