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Experts to discuss stolen art during Holocaust

November 6, 2015
In The News

By Freda R. Savana, Staff writer

With movies such as "Monument Men" and "Woman in Gold" drawing attention to the priceless works of art stolen during World War II, the timing is ripe to discuss efforts to return the pieces to their rightful owners.

Congressman Brendan Boyle, D-13, has organized a panel discussion, titled Holocaust Art Restitution, on Nov. 10, to explore the complex issue.

The roundtable is open to the public and will be held at Beth Sholom Congregation, at 8321 Old York Road in the Elkins Park section of Cheltenham. The talk begins at 7:30 p.m.

The date was chosen in part because it marks the anniversary of an incident known as “Kristallnacht," said David Sternberg, president of the Men's Club of Beth Sholom.

"Kristallnacht" which took place Nov. 9-10 in 1938, marked the night Nazis in Germany torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses and killed close to 100 Jews. In the aftermath, also called the “Night of Broken Glass,” some 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps
Boyle, a member of the foreign affairs committee, is looking for support for a letter he's preparing to Bavarian government officials, asking for their cooperation in raising awareness about the stolen art, said Carly Frame, the congressman's legislative assistant. 

Works of art belonging to Jewish families in Bavaria were stolen in the prelude to and throughout the war, explained Frame. Boyle's district, which includes Northeast Philadelphia and portions of Montgomery County, has a number of families of Holocaust survivors.

Panelists include Boyle, Dr. Michael Hulton, an heir to stolen Holocaust-era artwork, Mel Urbach and Markus Stoetzel, an American and German attorney on Holocaust-era art, respectively. Dr. Katharyn Hansen, a University of Pennsylvania fellow and an expert on ISIS and cultural artifact destruction.

The discussion will include what the U.S. government has done so far and what it can do going forward to facilitate the return of the artwork.

Additionally, Hanson, who was recently in Iraq, will share her thoughts on how extremists there are destroying cultural artifacts.