Collector’s Heir Declared Rightful Owner of Posters Seized by the Gestapo

MAY 2009 — A German court has ruled that a collection of rare posters seized by the Gestapo—and currently held by the German Historical Museum in Berlin—belong to a retired American airline pilot, Peter Sachs, whose father was forced to give them up just before World War II.

The collection of more than 4,000 posters, which includes advertisements for movies and cabaret shows as well as political propaganda (and which features, as one of its crown jewels, a 1932 poster for the Marlene Dietrich film Die Blonde Venus), was taken by the Nazis in 1938 from Hans Sachs, a Jewish dentist and avid poster collector. Sachs was arrested and briefly sent to a concentration camp, but his wife was able to secure his release. The entire family, including their son, Peter, then fled to Boston.

More than 70 years later, Peter Sachs, 71, now an American citizen living in Sarasota, Florida, sued the museum to return the collection, estimated to be worth $5.9 million. This winter a German court agreed that the posters are the legal property of Sachs and that he has the right to obtain possession of them. The museum has appealed the ruling, however, and has not yet given up the posters, many of which it is keeping in storage.

2 Responses

  1. Mad Russian

    This is more evidence of the lack of proper checking of provenance in Deutschland that any two-bit carny in the US would have to do to legally own any major piece or collection of artwork.

  2. Larry C.

    Definition : to steal – to take (the property of another) without right or permission.

    The collection was “stolen” as have many other items that the Nazis had taken. It should matter not where or by whom it is presently held. It should be returned – willingly. Failure to willingly return stolen property is just continuing the Nazism. If Germans of today want to put the evil past behind them, they should return all stolen property to the rightful owners or heirs. Anything less is a continuance of Nazism!


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