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Restitution Policies on Nazi-Looted Art in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom: A Change from a Legal to a Moral Paradigm?

  • Tabitha I. Oost (a1)
Abstract:

This article considers the constant tension facing several national panels in their consideration of Nazi spoliation claims concerning cultural objects. It will argue that this tension results from a shift in paradigms in dealing with Nazi-related injustices—from a strictly legal paradigm to a new victim groups-oriented paradigm, where addressing and recognizing the suffering caused by the nature of past crimes is central. While these national panels originate from this new paradigm and embody the new venues found for dealing with Nazi-looted art claims, this paradigm change at the same time presents these panels with a predicament. It seems impossible to abandon the legalist paradigm completely when remedying historical injustices in the specific category of cultural objects. Through a comparison between the Dutch and United Kingdom (UK) systems, this article will illustrate from both an institutional and substantive perspective that these panels seem to oscillate between policy-based, morality-driven proceedings (new paradigm) and a legal emphasis on individual ownership issues and restitution in kind (old paradigm). This article addresses this tension in order to provide insights on how we could conceptually approach and understand current restitution cases concerning Nazi-looted art in the Netherlands and the UK.

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International Journal of Cultural Property
  • ISSN: 0940-7391
  • EISSN: 1465-7317
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