Conferences, Declarations & Resolutions
Prague Holocaust Era Assets Conference
Between June 26 and 30, 2009, 47 nations, observer countries, and relevant non-governmental organizations including the Claims Conference and the WJRO convened for a follow-up to the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets in Prague.
Please see the full listing of participating countries.
Among the reports prepared by the Claims Conference/WJRO for the Prague Conference with recommended actions to be taken by participating nations to address the challenges still facing Nazi victims and restitution of looted assets were
Holocaust Era Looted Art
Prepared by the Claims Conference and the WJRO.
Holocaust Era Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property
Prepared by the Claims Conference and the WJRO.
On June 30, 2009, the 47 states attending the Prague Conference on Holocaust Era Assets, signed the Terezin Declaration. The Declaration calls, among other things, to strengthen and sustain previous efforts, notably those by the Washington Conference to ensure just and fair solutions regarding cultural property, including Judaica which was looted or displaced during or as a result of the Holocaust (Shoah). In regard to Looted Art, the Declaration calls for the recognition that restitution cannot be accomplished without the knowledge of potentially looted art and cultural property. It therefore calls for continuous provenance research, in addition to an ongoing effort to make available results on the internet, with due regard to privacy rules and regulations. Concerning Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property, the Declaration calls for “Recognizing the urgent need to identify ways to achieve a just and fair solution to the issue of Judaica and Jewish cultural property, where original owners, or heirs of former original Jewish owners, individuals or legal persons cannot be identified, while acknowledging there is no universal model.” Moreover, the Declaration notes that measures for the protection of sacred scrolls and ceremonial objects should be taken and where these items are currently in government hands to make them available for synagogue use where needed. Read the declaration here.
European Shoah Legacy Institute in Terezin
The institute, which will continue the work of the Prague Conference and the Terezin Declaration, will “serve as a voluntary forum for countries, organizations representing Holocaust (Shoah) survivors and other Nazi victims, and NGOs to note and promote developments in the areas covered by the Conference and this Declaration, and to develop and share best practices and guidelines in these areas and as indicated in paragraph four of Immovable (Real) Property.” To this end, the institute plans on publishing regular reports, including reports on looted art and Judaica.
For more information on the European Shoah Legacy Institute, please contact:
European Shoah Legacy Institute
Prague 1 – 110 00
Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets
The U.S. State Department’s Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets paid special attention to the issue of looted art. Representatives of more than forty countries and Jewish organizations attended the conference.
As a result of the conference the Washington Conference Principles On Nazi-Confiscated Art were declared. The principles can be found here.
Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
On 5th November 1999, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, representing forty-one nations, unanimously passed Resolution 1205, calling for the restitution of looted Jewish cultural property in Europe. The resolution can be found here.
Vilnius International Forum
In 2000, the Lithuanian government organized the Vilnius International Forum on Holocaust Era Looted Cultural Assets. As a result of the conference, the Vilnius Forum Declaration was drafted to ask all governments to reach just and fair solutions to restitute looted art. The declaration of the Vilnius International Forum can be found here.
European Parliament Resolution and Report of Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market
In November 2003, the European Parliament passed the Resolution and Report of Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market. The resolution was passed in a vote of the European Parliament on 17 December 2003 with 487 in favor, 10 against and 16 abstentions. The text of the resolution can be found here.
Resolutions of the Association of European Jewish Museums and the Council of American Jewish Museums on Nazi-Era Looted Art
As part of the Claims Conference / WJRO Looted Art and Cultural Property Initiative, discussions have been held with the Association of European Jewish Museums (AEJM), the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM), and the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) regarding the need for Jewish museums to examine the provenance of their collections. At its November 2006 annual meeting, the AEJM adopted a resolution, the text of which may be seen here. At its January 2007 annual meeting, the CAJM adopted a resolution, the text of which may be seen here. In 2008 the AJL adopted a resolution, the text of which may be seen here.
ICOM – International Council of Museums
In 1999, ICOM adopted recommendations concerning the Return of Works of Art Belonging to Jewish Owners.
View the text on the ICOM website.
In 2006, ICOM issued a revised Code of Ethics for Museums, which sets the minimum standards of professional practice and performance for museums and their staff.
Declarations of Art Organizations
The Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) adopted a Code of Ethics and Professional Practices.
In 1998, the Association of Art Museum Directors issued a Report of the AAMD Task Force on the Spoliation of Art during the Nazi/World War II Era (1933-1945).
In 1998, the National Museum Directors’ Conference adopted recommendations on the Spoliation of Works of Art during the Holocaust and World War II period.
In November 2001, the Canadian Museum Association and the Canadian Jewish Congress issued recommendations on Holocaust-era Cultural Property. The text of the resolution can be found here.
In 2001, the German government, its federal states and municipal head organizations adopted guidelines concerning the research and restitution of looted Jewish cultural property during National-Socialism. The text of the guidelines can be found here. Please note that the text only exists in German.
Museum associations and art dealers associations have also adopted a number of declarations and resolutions. See section: National Organizations.