Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Repatriate all Nazi Artifacts to Germany?

Archaeo-blogger Paul Barford has suggested that Nazi artifacts should be repatriated back to Germany.  Presumably, such a rule could take in a huge amount of material, including many "battlefield souvenirs."  But why does Barford once again only pick on Americans to do the repatriating?  If  he is really serious about this proposal, I think he should press it first in his native Poland. Sure, Poland suffered grievously from Nazi aggression, but should that factor be considered at all as part of the mix?

14 comments:

Cultural Property Observer said...

Arthur Houghton asked me to post this:

"Peter, why even ask the question? Only those small people of with low ethical values would even raise the issue. What is seized in war should remain seized, and to want to divest the Holocaust Museum of such an important material as the Rosenberg diaries -- and to return them to Germany! -- is to raise the issue of cultural or, worse, ethnic bigotry. If the individual involved even voices the matter again, he will need to apologize, and apologize and apologize. I suspect he will be made to never forget his grievous mistake.

Warm good wishes,

Arthur"

kyri said...

so all the churches,museums and monasteries with all their icons and artifacts "seized in war" in northern cyprus,illegally by the turkish army now belong to the turks.what kind of logic is that in a civilised society?
kyri.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Arthur Houghton asked me to add this:

"Kyri deserves an accolade for his comment, and I confess I was thinking too much of the consequences of the Second World War, when vast amounts of war-related material, including virulent propaganda that today some want to regard as "cultural patrimony" was seized by the Allied armies during their occupation of Germany and Japan. The invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the destruction of Greek Cypriot towns, and the looting of archaeological sites that followed has been rightly condemned. I sympathize with Kyri, and apologize for my overly broad comment.

Again, Peter, thank you.

Arthur"

Cultural Property Observer said...

Yes, we are not talking Cyprus or icons or even purely personal items. Instead, we are talking Nazi artifacts, in this case a diary that was apparently used as evidence in prosecutions of war criminals. I suspect the US Government looks at this as US Government property that was misappropriated; not German cultural property as Mr. Barford suggests. I'd be surprised if the US Government repatriates it, but that of course is the US Government's call given its apparent ownership of the objects. In the meantime, I'm still waiting for Mr. Barford to explain why he is so adamant that Americans should repatriate Nazi material, but Poles should not be asked to do the same under his own very peculiar set of views.

Paul Barford said...

"but Poles should not be asked to do the same under his own very peculiar set of views".
What Poles, what material? You mean Danzig, Breslau, Elbing, Marienburg and Auschwitz? Or just the objects in them?

Do you not see a difference, even from the narrow legalistic view, let alone any other?

Cultural Property Observer said...

I'm afraid you are the one that suggested Nazi material (here a diary that apparently was used as evidence in a war crime trial) should be repatriated to Germany, not me. I merely suggested that if you truly believe that, you should also lead a campaign to return Nazi material to Germany from your native Poland. I'm afraid instead of explaining further what you mean, you are only digging yourself into a deeper anti-American hole judging from what you have said on your latest blog on the subject.

Paul Barford said...

I'll put this in words of as few syllables as possible: "what specific Nazi material do you think Poland has that a campaigner would return to Germany?" If you do not make precise your question, nobody can answer it.

Do you mean Danzig, Breslau, Elbing, Marienburg and Auschwitz? Or just the objects in them?


Cultural Property Observer said...

I'm not a repatriationist and only support the return of material where there is a legal obligation to do so or where the owner does so voluntarily. Thus, I'm afraid I can't answer this question for you. You are the repatriationist who wants to repatriate Nazi material to Germany, so I'm afraid you will have to be the one to explain any distinctions you think are appropriate, including why such rules should apply to Americans and not Poles.

kyri said...

i certainly dont agree with everything arthur says but i knew from his past actions at the getty,resigning on a matter of principle,that he was an honourable man and my estimation of him has gone up a little higher with his last comment.allthough i understood the context of his comment,there are many that might not.
i remember reading a prousts questionnaire on dorothy kings blog by arthur a few years ago and when asked which reform he admired the most answerd the "civil rights act 1956",not to mention alexander the 3rd of macedon being one of his heroes.if we scratch beneath the surface and all the rhetoric,there is not much between us all,even paull and peter may be the best of freinds.
"i dont need a freind who changes when i change and who nods when i nod,my shadow does that much better"
[plutarch 46-120ad]
paull and peter freinds,hmm maybe thats going to far.
kyri.

Paul Barford said...

I asked what straw-man-argument "Nazi material in Poland" this blog's author is writing about. His only reply is:

"I'm afraid I can't answer this question for you"

Why does that not surprise me?

I was writing of a specific document stolen by an American from the archives of (he says) the Nuremberg court and taken to America.

If there is material of such importance stolen from official archives in Germany, by Polish people and taken to Poland and kept hidden away there in private possession to avoid detection, then I am 100% behind sending that back to join the body of archival material from which it was clandestinely taken, "legal obligation" or no.

I do not see much of a need for a general "campaign" in Poland since the collection of such stuff in Poland is not really a phenomenon on much of a scale. Firstly it was and is illegal to collect certain categories of this material - anything with a swastika on it for example (and the law was enforced, and still is). Secondly, skinhead idiots excluded, there are not a lot of people terribly fond of the Nazis in Poland, for reasons which are wholly understandable, so its not a common collecting theme.

But if 400 more stolen pages of Rosenberg's diary turn up in a Polish collection, sure, I'll be saying long and loud that they should go back to where they came from and join there the 400 newly-surfaced pages from New York. I do not think many thinking Poles will be making a fuss about them staying here. I imagine though the skinhead idiots would probably take the same attitude as you and Arthur Houghton are here on the pages of CPO blog, which does not exactly put you in the best company.

Cultural Property Observer said...

From Arthur Houghton:

"Peter, my advice is to ignore Pablito the Undistinguished and just leave him off your blog, to make whatever stew he wants on others. I have to say that not only by comparison but by experience, Kyri is more thoughtful, more educated, and more humorous in every way, clearly someone who has a strong ethical sense and an open mindedness that raises the level of discussion.

There are too many important issues to deal with, and I hope you (and all of us) can stay focused on what's significant. Let the dogs bark, keep the caravan moving.

I would like Kyri to know that I certainly do not expect him/her to agree with anything I say, and am happy to have disagreement where it is thoughtful and meaningful. Again, I apologize for my thoughtless comments that engendered your early response. And thank you for maintaining a high level to our discussion.

Best wishes to Peter and Kyri,

Arthur"

Cultural Property Observer said...

For Kyri, thanks for your thoughts, and I don't mind reasonably polite disagreement, but unfortunately Mr. Barford cannot seem to make any point without wrapping it into an insult.

For Mr. Barford, even if Nazi material is not collected in Poland as you claim, newspaper articles do suggest that German WWII war graves have been desecrated all over Eastern Europe (presumably including Poland) in search of Nazi artifacts. I suspect we can all agree that is wrong. Perhaps you will consider campaigning against that going on in Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe with at least some of the fervor you bring to your other causes.

In any event, I think we have reached diminishing returns on this post and will likely not post any further comments about it.

stoutstandards said...
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Sanjay Sawant said...
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