Germany's controversial cultural heritage law has passed the lower house of the German Parliament, apparently with opposition parties abstaining from voting on the measure.
The German Government hopes the upper house will take up the measure before recess on July 8th.
While additional regulation was probably inevitable, the assumption that an artifact is "stolen" because a dealer or collector cannot produce an export permit from a postulated "country of origin" where an artifact was made hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago brings back bad memories of Germany's totalitarian past.
So, small wonder the law lacks popular support. Rather, the restrictions against collecting appear to be a special interest measure being pushed by the the German Federal Foreign Office (which--like our own State Department-- views repatriation as a "soft power" opportunity, domestic interests be damned), the German Archaeological Institute (a Federal Foreign Office entity, whose members depend on excavation permits from source countries to excavate), and a small group of countries with cultural nationalist pretensions (mostly undemocratic or even dictatorial regimes that view anything "old" as state property).
Germany's coalition government is already deeply unpopular due to its mishandling of the economy, immigration, and the Greek bail-out.
Hopefully, Brexit (which was voted on the same day) and what it says about the people's distrust of government "experts" has scared the politicians enough that at even this late date, Germany's upper house will consider the due process rights of Germans before requiring such non-existent documentation.
After all, Germany's ancient coin and antiquities trade is not only good for Germany's economy, but it helps encourage people to people contacts and appreciation of other cultures.
Image: Monika Grutters, Germany's Cultural Minister, pitching her "soft power" initiative