Art Restitution and the Holocaust: A Symposium on Current Research and Educational Resources

Richard Neumann before WWII, photo courtesy of the Selldorff Family

On October 14, 2021, the Worcester Art Museum, in partnership with Clark University's Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, organized and hosted a symposium centered on the exhibition, What the Nazis Stole from Richard Neumann (and the search to get it back). Scholars and educators spoke about the work of restitution of artwork from World War II and what was happening in Vienna and Europe more broadly as the Neumann family was fleeing the Nazis. There were special sessions for K-12 educators about resources and methods of teaching about the Holocaust.


  • Talk: WAM's Exhibition What the Nazis Stole from Richard Neumann (and the search to get it back)

    Speaker: Claire Whitner, PhD, Director of Curatorial Affairs and the James A. Welu Curator of European Art, Worcester Art Museum

    Claire Whitner provides a description of the exhibition, What the Nazis Stole from Richard Neumann, and discusses how the heirs of Richard Neumann located works from the family collection and loaned them to the Worcester Art Museum.

  • Talk: The Jewish Museum's Exhibition Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art

    Speaker: Sam Sackeroff, Lerman-Neubauer Assistant Curator, The Jewish Museum

    During World War II, untold numbers of artworks and pieces of cultural property were stolen by Nazi forces. After the war, an estimated one million artworks and 2.5 million books were recovered. Many more were destroyed. Sam Sackeroff presents the Jewish Museum's new exhibition, Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art, organized with Darsie Alexander, Susan and Elihu Rose Chief Curator and Sam Sackeroff, Lerman-Neubauer Assistant Curator, The Jewish Museum. Afterlives explores how surviving artworks and other precious objects were changed by those events and how they have moved through time, bearing witness to profound historical ruptures while also acting as enduring carriers of individual expression, knowledge, and creativity. The exhibition follows the paths taken by works of art across national borders, through military depots, and in and out of networks of collectors, looters, ideologues, and restitution organizations.

  • Talk: Art Looting in Vienna: Case Studies from the MFA

    Speaker: Victoria Reed, PhD, Sadler Curator for Provenance, Museum of Fine Arts Boston

    In 2015, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) received a gift of 186 works of art from the descendants of the Rothschild banking family of Vienna. These paintings, prints, and works of decorative art and furniture had been looted during the National Socialist era and were returned to the family before being given to the MFA, which featured a selection of them in the exhibition Restoring a Legacy: Rothschild Family Treasures. Many works of art that were in private Jewish collections before World War II were likewise displaced, looted, or forcibly sold during the Nazi period. This presentation examines the fate of Viennese art collections during and after the Nazi period through case studies from the MFA.

  • Talk: Facing History and Ourselves: Our Approach to Holocaust Education

    Speaker: Dustin Tenreiro, Associate Program Director at Facing History and Ourselves

    Dustin Tenreiro talks to teachers about What the Nazis Stole from Richard Neumann (and the search to get it back) as a stepping stone to talking about the Holocaust. He provides educators with resources to use in the classroom and focuses on ways to incorporate art into the discussion. Works stolen, artists listed as “degenerate” by the Nazis, and survivor art is also discussed.

  • Talk: Art of Loss: The Restitution of Jewish Property in Austria after the Holocaust

    Speaker: Lisa Silverman, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

    Lisa Silverman presents on the conclusions of her previous research focused on Central European Jews and their property and the connection to the restitution of looted art after the Holocaust. The presentation contextualizes the Neumann collection in light of the Austrian restitution, drawing on such examples as the Woman in Gold painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer and the efforts of photographer Dora Kallmus/Madame d'Ora to reclaim her and her sister's house in Austria.

  • Part 1 – Talk: Sharing Lessons of War, Tolerance and Immigration with a New Generation

    Speaker: Robin Stein, author of My Two Cities

    Part 2 – Talk: Resources for Teaching Youth about the Holocaust

    Speaker: Steven Schimmel, Executive Director, Jewish Federation of Central MA

    Robin Stein shares how local Holocaust survivor Hanni Myer's escape from Vienna in 1938 and eventual settlement in the Boston area inspired her to create a book for youth to share this history. Stein and Myer have worked together to visit schools and share the lessons of war, tolerance, and immigration with a new generation. Steven Schimmel speaks about the primary sources and resources he has used to teach youth about the Holocaust.

    Download information about My Two Cities

  • Talk: Göring's Man in Paris: The Story of a Nazi Art Plunderer and His World

    Speaker: Jonathan Petropoulos, PhD, John V. Croul Professor of European History at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California

    Jonathan Petropoulos speaks about his recent book, Göring's Man in Paris: The Story of a Nazi Art Plunderer and His World. Bruno Lohse (1911–2007) was one of the most notorious art plunderers in history. Appointed by Hermann Göring to Hitler's art looting agency in Paris, he went on to help supervise the systematic theft and distribution of more than thirty thousand artworks, taken largely from French Jews, and to assist Göring in amassing an enormous private art collection. By the 1950s Lohse was officially denazified but was back in the art dealing world, offering masterpieces of dubious origin to American museums. After his death, dozens of paintings by Renoir, Monet, and Pissarro, among others, were found in his Zurich bank vault and adorning the walls of his Munich home. Jonathan Petropoulos spent nearly a decade interviewing Lohse and continues to serve as an expert witness for Holocaust restitution cases. Here he tells the story of Lohse's life, offering a critical examination of the postwar art world.

Generous support for the exhibition What the Nazis Stole from Richard Neumann (and the search to get it back) is provided by the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts and anonymous donors. Additional support is provided by the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University, PEACE Fund GWCF, Marlene and David Persky, Carol and Michael Sleeper, Dr. and Mrs. Herbert Dean, Dr. Shirley S. Siff, Johanna D. Drooz Yoffie and Alan S. Yoffie and Carol Seager.

Related exhibition programming is supported by the Amelia and Robert H. Haley Memorial Lecture Fund.

The exhibition is sponsored by Fallon Health.