Stolen Art: WW2 and Jewish Art Collections with Dr. Katerina Prusova

Stolen Art: WW2 and Jewish Art Collections with Dr. Katerina Prusova


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This seminar provides rare insights into the systemic looting and stealing of art, property, and businesses carried out by the Nazi regime during World War II. We will go in-depth to the stories of a selection of wealthy Jewish families in Bavaria and Moravia and learn about how their family treasures were stolen or forcefully donated to the National Gallery and other state institutions.

We will begin by meeting the Petschek family, one of the wealthiest and most influential families in interwar Czechoslovakia, whose coal business was taken over by Herman Göring. Their famous art collection ended up in the homes of high ranking Nazi leaders and in German galleries. We will also explore the world of Jewish sugar bosses and their magnificent villas in Bohemia, including the home designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for Fritz Tugendhat. We’ll learn how the modernist architectural masterpiece was confiscated by the Third Reich and then by the Communists. We will finish up by learning about Jindrich Waldes, one of the greatest collectors of modern and abstract art of the time who exchanged his collection for his release from Buchenwald, a former Nazi concentration camp.

Led by an expert in Art History and Jewish Studies, Dr. Katerina Prusova, this interactive seminar exposes how the Nazis used complex bureaucratic systems to confiscate the property of Jews (or others detained by the government) during World War II. Calling it “valorization of property,” the Nazis created a complicated process, often involving private institutions, to seize objects of great value.

Participants will come away with an increased understanding of the historical and political context and the role of bureaucracy in World War II events. They will discover the little known history of the famous villas and palaces and get rare insights into the world of the major art collections once possessed by important Jewish families.

Dr. Katerina Prusova has been teaching Art History, classes on the Holocaust, Jewish history, and Jewish culture at Charles University in Prague since 2009. A Context expert since 2013, she has long-term experience in archive research on looted art and assets. She holds a PhD
in Art History.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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