The fall of Adolf Hitler's Blitzkreig army marked the end of World War-2. It also led to rampant theft in and around the crumbling Germany. Particularly art theft, which Hitler himself had stolen from families in Germany, according to historians.
According to international news reports, the Central Institute for Art History (CIAH) in Munich has conducted a comprehensive investigation to ascertain the whereabouts of the art that was stored in the Führer’s building- Führerbau and the adjacent Nazi headquarters.
Historians have revealed that two days prior to the Allied forces stormed Berlin, Nazi guard who protected important buildings had abandoned while Hitler himself was a day away from committing suicide. At such a time, the desperate and starved crowds in the nation's capital stormed Führerbau - initially for food, liquor, and furniture. Then they plundered his cellars to steal his priceless art collection.
Fallen Germany, 1945 (Photo: Getty Images)
According to researchers, Hitler had stashed away 1500 pieces of artwork shipped from across Europe in the two buildings in Berlin, confiscated by Nazis from Jewish collections. After the fall of Hitler, researchers found that at least 700 pieces were looted in the two-day spree.
Out of the missing art pieces, authorities were able to recover almost 300 paintings, many in the weeks after the plunder, stashed in the nearby vicinity.
The Führerbau (Photo: Frank Leonhardt via AP)
News reports suggest that in the post-World War era, the German government were reluctant to track the remaining 400 paintings, avoiding to stake a claim to possessions stolen by their predecessors in the Third Reich.
But recently according to news reports, in a renewed effort to recover the paintings, German officials have listed every painting to the German Federal Criminal Police Office and the Interpol, creating two databases of missing art. As of now, researchers claim that three dozen paintings have been recovered from across the globe - one in the University of South California, one in New York and several others from the US.
Photo: USC Fischer Museum of Art
Historians have claimed the biggest obstacle is 'Ersitzung' which dictates that someone who acquires an item in good faith and possesses it for 10 years becomes the rightful owner. This has created difficulties in recovering art from collectors who bought it without knowing that it was stolen, say researchers.