Jewish heirs disappointed in German commission ruling on gold treasure

(JTA) — Descendants of Jewish art collectors expressed dismay that the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation will be allowed to retain a medieval gold treasure worth an estimated $200 million.

The descendants of another heir say they will not give up the fight, however.

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After about half a year of deliberations, the Limbach Commission – a German advisory board for Holocaust-related claims – announced on March 20 that the “Guelph Collection” or “Welfenschatz,” which German
Jewish art dealers Zacharias Max Hackenbroch, Isaac Rosenbaum, Saemy Rosenberg and Julius Falk Goldschmidt purchased in the 1920s and sold in 1935, was not bought from them under duress and hence did not have to be returned to the heirs.

The claimants, their attorneys and other advocates had argued that virtually all purchases of valuable property from Jews under the Nazis were made under duress. And the fact that this sale was orchestrated by Hitler’s deputy Reichsmarschall Herman Goering appeared to strengthen their argument.

Meanwhile, an additional claimant, heirs of the Jewish jeweler Hermann Netter – who reportedly owned 25 percent of the treasure at the time it was sold in 1935 – announced that they would continue their fight for
restitution of the treasure.

Dresden-based attorney Sabine Rudolph told the German news agency dpa that, since the Netter heirs had been
excluded from the previous deliberation, they would not recognize the commission’s decision.

A spokesperson for the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation told the online Sudkurier newspaper that the descendants of Netter had declined to make a claim together with the other heirs, and noted that the Limbach commission rejection of the claim expressly included the descendants of other previous owners. But Rudolph said her clients had only just learned about the case in December.

Speaking to the Times of Israel, Markus Stoetzel and Mel Urbach – attorneys for the originl claimants – said they were shocked and disappointed. They said they were analyzing the recommendations and would discuss it with their clients.

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