CFI Vice-Chairman, Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP introduced legislation in Parliament this week to stop the current law of Holocaust survivors having the right to recover artwork looted in the Nazi era, from expiring.
The MP for Chipping Barnet said legislation giving a number of museums and galleries the power to return works of art stolen during the Second World War back to their rightful owners will cease to have effect from November next year.
Her Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) (Amendment) Bill, introduced via an unopposed 10-minute rule motion, seeks to repeal the sunset clause in the 2009 Act to keep the legislation on the statute book. The Bill was given a second reading on 27th April.
Ms Villiers said the museum community was “fully supportive” of the proposals and she also had the backing of the Government.
Ms Villiers underlined that the moral case for the legislation was “arguably stronger than it was in 2009: we have fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors still with us. Surely it would be heartless and wrong to deprive those last survivors of their right to recover treasured works of art”.
She said that “throughout the 1930s and 40s, property of all kinds was systematically stolen from millions of people as part of Hitler’s horrific genocidal campaign against Europe’s Jewish community – that included many precious works of art. It is estimated that up to 20% of Europe’s cultural treasures were lost during World War Two. Around 100,000 cultural objects pillaged during the Nazi era remain still hidden to this day”.