The German Historical Museum has been ordered to return antique posters worth millions of dollars to the son of a Jewish collector who fled to the United States at the start of WWII.
The Berlin Deutsches Historisches (German Historical) Museum has a huge number of artefacts, with 6,000 exhibits in the applied arts section alone. Thanks to the museum’s interactive website, people in Lancashire can see antique cabinets, fine artworks and even antique dining chairs by Marcel Breuer from the comfort of their living rooms.
Currently, the museum is about to host a new exhibition celebrating the birth of Frederick the Great (1712-1786). However, another piece of news has threatened to overshadow the event – that concerning the Hans Sachs collection. Sachs was a Jewish dentist and leading poster collector, whose entire collection was seized by the Nazis in 1938. Arrested during the Kristallnacht pogrom, Sachs managed to flee to the US with his family. He later accepted $50,000 compensation from the German government. Believing his collection to be destroyed, he died in 1974. However, around 4,000 of his posters had survived in an East Berlin museum, becoming part of the DHM collection in 1990.
When Sachs’ son learned of their existence in 2005, he launched a seven year fight to get them back. Recently, a German Federal Court ruled in his favour, saying the posters – today worth between $6m and $21m – must be returned to their rightful owner. Not to do so, it said, would be to perpetrate a Nazi war crime. The museum respected the decision.
Antiques collecting isn’t just about Victorian dining chairs and antique desks. In Preston, ask antique dealers about Victorian posters, which can also be an excellent investment for the future.
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