Silverware formerly owned by members of the Jewish community

In 1939 and 1940, the Munich Municipal History Museum (which was to become the Münchner Stadtmuseum in 1955) acquired 205 items of silverware from Munich's Municipal Pawn Office (Städtisches Leihamt). The entire collection comprised items owned by Jewish families living in Munich who had been forced to hand them over to the Municipal Pawn Office's purchasing department by the State following the enactment of the "Third Decree on the Basis of the Ordinance regarding the Registration of Jewish Assets" on February 21, 1939 (Reich Law Gazette 1938 I. page 282).

 

A total of 57 items of silverware were returned to their rightful owners after 1945 as part of the reparation process that followed the fall of the Nazi regime. Families whose property had been confiscated were required to submit an application for restitution by a fixed deadline. In all, 148 such items still reside in the Münchner Stadtmuseum today. The vast majority were made by Munich-based silversmiths between the 18th and 20th centuries.

Under the 1999 “Joint Declaration”, Germany’s Federal Government, Federal States (Länder) and National Associations of Local Governments reaffirm that these items are cultural assets that were unlawfully seized by the Nazis and should therefore be returned to their former owners or heirs.

The Münchner Stadtmuseum is doing its utmost to meet this moral obligation. However, owing to the fragmentary nature of the records provided by the Municipal Pawn Office, it has not yet been able to trace the former owners of this silverware. The Münchner Stadtmuseum has therefore entered details of all these items into the www.lostart.de database of Germany’s central office for the documentation of lost cultural assets (Koordinierungsstelle Magdeburg). Furthermore, between January and July 2014, the collection will be shown publicly as part of an exhibition entitled “M. T. Wetzlar, Munich silversmiths, est. 1875 aryanized 1938” in the hope of uncovering clues that may help us to establish the provenance of these items.

 

 

Publication

The pamphlet „Spurensuche – Silver objects formerly in Jewish ownership in the holdings of the Münchner Stadtmuseum“ is on sale at  our Online-Shop 8 €.