Vienna Philharmonic to return painting looted by Nazis to Jewish heirs 

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, correcting a decades-long injustice, will return a painting looted by the Nazis to a Jewish family.

Claudia Kapsamer, a spokeswoman for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, said Friday that the famed ensemble plans to return a valuable French neo-Impressionist painting to relatives of its original Jewish owner.

Kapsamer said that the oil painting by Paul Signac will be handed over to Marcel Koch’s relatives in about three weeks.

A Nazi police official gave the orchestra Signac’s “Port-en-Bessin” in 1940 for its performances in occupied France.

The painting’s estimated value is around $500,000.

The orchestra purged Jewish members and closely cooperated with Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and other top Hitler associates after Germany’s 1938 annexation of Austria.

The orchestra has worked in recent years to research and reveal its Nazi past and to make amends.

The Nazis organized looting of European countries during the time of the Third Reich. Plundering occurred from 1933 until the end of World War II, particularly by military units known as the Kunstschutz.

In addition to gold, silver and currency, cultural items of great significance were stolen, including paintings, ceramics, books, and religious treasures.

An international effort is underway to identify Nazi plunder that still remains unaccounted for, with the aim of ultimately returning the items to the rightful owners, their families or their respective countries.

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Many Jewish families have been fighting to reclaim ownership of family heirlooms which are currently held by museums and other institutions around the world.

By: World Israel News Staff
AP contributed to this report.