Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities Calls for Independent Commission for Study of Cultural Assets # announcements #holocaust

Jan Meisels Allen


The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG/FCSI) [ - whose website is in German, French and English] has called on the Swiss  government to designate so-called “escape property” as “cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution.”  It has also called for the appointment of an independent study commission for the study of cultural assets.


According to the SIG/FCSI, the outdated assumption still persists that people fleeing the Nazi regime sold their works of art at market prices and without need. Thus, many still assume today – often wrongly – that a fair deal was struck between the buyer and the seller.


As reported in EuroJewish Congress, “In 1998, the Washington Declaration was signed by 44 states. It is a legally non-binding agreement that seeks to ensure that works of art confiscated by the Nazi regime are found and returned.


Likewise, the signatory states have undertaken to take the necessary steps to reach fair and just solutions. In recent years, the Washington Declaration has made it possible for well over a thousand paintings and art objects from some twenty states to be restituted to their owners or their heirs.”

While Switzerland is a signatory of the Washington Declaration, its interpretation of the principles regarding art is more restrictive.  In Switzerland, private art collections in particular usually take the same position as the Bührle Foundation*, for example, that works of flight art should not be treated like looted art.  The SIG/FCSI calls on the Swiss Confederation, as well as private and public museums, archives, private collectors, auction houses and libraries, to adopt the designation and definition “Nazi-confiscated cultural property”.


*IAJGS Records Access Alert reported on the Bührle Foundation in another posting on October 19, 2021 which can be found in Record Access Alert archives—see below how to access the archives.


The SIG/FCS also demands that possible so-called “flight property” in Swiss museums and private collections be comprehensively investigated and, if claims are justified, restituted accordingly. The institutions concerned must actively and increasingly contribute to identifying and locating “cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution”. In doing so, the examination of the individual case would be decisive.


To read more see:


To read the previous postings about Nazi looted art, holocaust, cultural assets and more,  go to the archives of the IAJGS Records Access Alert at: You must be registered to access the archives.  To register go to:   and follow the instructions to enter your email address, full name and which genealogical  organization with whom you are affiliated   You will receive an email response that you have to reply to or the subscription will not be finalized.


Jan Meisels Allen

Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee