Heirs invited to view Hitler’s art collection online

By Toby Axelrod, August 8, 2008

A Berlin museum is presenting an online museum of works collected by Adolf Hitler in the hope of uniting former owners or their heirs with stolen works.

The virtual collection, a joint project by the German Historical Museum and Federal Office for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues, is also meant to provide research material on the National Socialist abuse of art for political purposes, according to Angelika Enderlein of the Federal Agency, Museum collection director Monika Flacke and Berlin historian Hanns Christian Löhr, who co-ordinated the project.

Called Special Assignment Linz after Hitler's own code name for his planned museum in Linz, Austria, the online archive includes 4,731 paintings, sculptures, furniture, porcelain and tapestries.

Some were purchased, others stolen. Many already have been returned to their original owners or placed in museums.

By the end of 2008, some 90,000 additional scans of card catalogues will go online from the Munich Central Collecting Point, together with photographs from the Federal Agency catalogues.

Hitler was attracted to German and Austrian works of the 19th century, and considered most modern works and their creators "degenerate".

The dictator initiated his Special Assignment Linz before the start of the Second World War, with the goal of creating a Fuhrer Museum in Linz. As the war came to an end, the collection was hidden in salt mines.

The allies later found and documented each of the works with photos and written descriptions.

Last updated: 12:15pm, August 7 2008