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

By Justin Ewers
3/24/2009 • World War II News

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.

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