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Reconstructing the Record of Nazi Cultural Plunder

Published by the International Institute of Social History, in association with the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam, with generous support of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference).

One of the main Nazi agencies engaged in looting cultural valuables in Nazi-occupied countries during the Second World War was the 'Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg' (ERR), a special operational task force headed by Adolf Hitler's leading ideologue Alfred Rosenberg. In this extensive international survey Patricia Kennedy Grimsted describes the archival remains of the ERR in 29 repositories in 9 countries - from Washington and Brussels to Moscow and Kyiv. The detail with which the ERR documented the art, archives, books, and other Judaica it plundered has proved essential for the recovery of cultural valuables after the war and their return to victims or heirs.

The survey serves as a preliminary guide to documents generated by the ERR as well as records by postwar agencies seeking to return the ERR loot. Links are provided to many dispersed materials now available on the Internet with additional digital contributions to be expected soon. The survey provides easy access to a major component of the record of wartime cultural plunder and retrieval. See here for an overview of the repositories covered.


On Wednesday 19 October 2011, the IISH, the Jewish Historical Museum and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies jointly organized a presentation and expert meeting, in the Auditorium of the Jewish Historical Museum, to celebrate the launch of the online publication of the ERR Survey, as well as the publication of Neglected Witnesses. The Fate of Jewish Ceremonial Objects During the Second World War and After (edited by Julie-Marthe Cohen, with Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek), and the launch of the WW II-related database of missing objects from the prewar JHM collection and objects in the present museum collection of unknown provenance.

During this meeting Professor Eric Ketelaar and Dr Patricia Kennedy Grimsted presented a paper. Edited versions of both papers are published here:
Eric Ketelaar - Unravelling the Mesh: The ERR Survey as a Finding Aid
Patricia Kennedy - Documenting Nazi Cultural Looting and Postwar Retrieval: Surviving Archives of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR)

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