German Minister: Put rabbi on Nazi art committee

May 26, 2016  

Germany’s Culture Minister Monika Grutters has announced her idea to integrate Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, rabbi of Berlin’s Jewish community, in the commission seeking to return art stolen by the Nazis to the rightful Jewish owners.

The Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property, is also known as the Limbach Commission after chairman Prof. Dr. Jutta Limbach, former head of the German Federal Constitutional Court.

Grutters met with Rabbi Teichtal on Tuesday at the offices of Chancelor Angela Merkel’s Federal Chancellery, in which she told him about her intentions to have him join the Limbach Commission.

Thirteen years ago Germany established the committee to help advise in disputes regarding the restitution of cultural assets that were held by German institutions. While the commission does not make binding resolutions, it is a key mediating body with great influence.

A number of recent claims referred to the commission have caught media attention, and Jewish groups have criticized the fact that the important committee does not have a Jewish member.

Grutters told Rabbi Teichtal in the meeting that she attributes the highest importance to efficiently and transparently dealing with restitution claims by Holocaust survivors and their legal heirs, noting that doing so is a duty of the German government.

She said that she intends to consider adding a member of the Jewish community to the committee board in her upcoming talks with the German states and municipalities, so as to increase confidence in the committee and raise its transparency.

In response Rabbi Teichtal thanked the minister for her commitment to the German Jewish community and towards Holocaust survivors.

The rabbi called Grutters a true friend of the Jewish people, and noted that if there are arguments and disagreements on specific matters they must be handled in a friendly atmosphere.


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