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Provenance Research
Internet Documentation on Berlin Art Auctions from 1933 until 1945

The Koordinierungsstelle für Kulturgutverluste, Germany’s central office for the documentation of lost cultural property, operated the Lost Art Internet Database. This database registers cultural objects which were relocated, moved or seized, especially from Jewish owners, as a result of persecution under the Nazi dictatorship and World War II. The tasks of the Koordinierungsstelle were taken over by the German Lost Art Foundation. The Lost Art Database www.lostart.de collects and documents information about the search and finding of cultural property. The publication of its results on the internet has facilitated a worldwide investigation on missing objects and the circumstances of their loss. The Lost Art Database thereby helps to prepare cases for the restitution of cultural items. Facts & Files created and compiled a database on Berlin auctions of art and cultural assets between 1933 and 1945 that was published on the Koordinierungsstelle website. It offers information on archives and documents that facilitates provenance research. 

The auction files are preserved at the Berlin State Archive (www.landesarchiv-berlin.de), in the record group of the Berlin branch of the Reich’s Chamber of Fine Arts. The Berlin Head Office of the Reich’s Chamber of Fine Arts was established in 1935. Around this time, the auctioneers had to declare their planned auctions to the Reich’s Chamber of Fine Arts and the Chief of Police. These declarations contain lists about vendors and objects. There is a variety of works of art listed among the declared objects, including some pieces of higher value. Some files include correspondence regarding both auctions and also single objects. The files also contain catalogues and partial auction result lists, including the names of the purchasers and hammer prices. The documents were used to handle restitution claims at the Berlin branch and were moved from there to the Berlin State Archive in 1989. The archival holding contains 77 files, which are completely microfilmed. The files cover the period between 1935 and 1944 inclusive. 


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Beate Schreiber
Facts & Files
P: +49 (0)30 / 480 986 20

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