Netherlands to return paintings seized by Nazis
The Dutch government will return 13 valuable paintings to the heirs of their original Jewish owners disposed under Nazi occupation during World War II, according to the culture ministry.
"The restitution commission is of the opinion that the paintings were removed from the possession of the original owners as a direct result of the Nazi regime," said a ministry statement.
The works include Dorp in de winter (Town in Winter) by 17th century Dutch painter Jan van Goyen currently on display in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague.
This and 11 others belonged to art collector Hans Ludwig Larsen, who died in 1937 and whose widow placed them in the care of a museum in the western city of Leiden during the war. They were eventually acquired by Adolf Hitler.
A buyer for Hitler had paid €325,000 in today's value, which was handed over after the war to Larsen's heirs, who now have to return the money to the Dutch state in exchange for the paintings, said the statement.
"The money will be used for Jewish cultural projects."
The thirteenth painting to be returned used to be in the collection of German Jew Richard Semmel, who sold it in The Netherlands to finance his flight from the Nazis.
According to Dutch art research organisation Origin Unknown, thousands of art objects that were sold, robbed or confiscated in The Netherlands in WWII found their way to Nazi Germany.
In the 1950s, the Dutch government retrieved some of the works and returned them to their rightful owners. Many artworks, however, remain in the custody of the Dutch state, which loans items in its collection to various museums.
A restitution commission was set up in 2002 to advise the government about 75 claims to items in state custody.