Wartime Losses of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz

The Second World War resulted in great losses to the Prussian collections. Much was destroyed. Many of the holdings that had been displaced for their protection did not return to the collections, for various reasons.

The Second World War left large gaps in the Prussian collections. The museums, libraries, and archives relocated extensive holdings to various sites within the German Reich in order to protect them from damage or destruction. Many of these works never returned.

For a long time, the extent of these losses could not be determined completely. Only after reunification, documents necessary for that purpose became accessible. Since that time the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) has been publishing the series Dokumentation der Verluste (Documentation of the Losses). It lists all of the works lost during the war and states its claims of ownership. In many cases, it is not clear even today whether the works were destroyed or ended up in the possession of other people or institutions.

Cultural Assets Relocated to Russia as a Result of the War

Historische Aufnahme des Wiederaufbaus des Pergamonaltars im Pergamonmuseum
© bpk / Herbert Hensky
At the end of the Second World War, numerous cultural assets were transported to the USSR. A large number of them are still there. The Federal Republic of Germany and the cultural institutions affected are seeking their return. more

Holdings Evacuated to Poland

Historische Aufnahme einer Bücherauslagerung der Staatsbibliothek
© bpk / Regina Nowak
Some of the holdings of the Prussian collections were evacuated during the Second World War to German areas that now belong to Poland. The Foundation still claims ownership of these cultural assets. more

Removal by Private Parties

Ausschnitt aus dem Gemälde „Weg nach Castel Gandolfo“ von Carl Blechen
© SMB, ANG / Andres Kilger CC NC-BY-SA

Numerous objects from the Prussian collections disappeared during the Second World War as a result of theft or plundering. The Foundation is researching the whereabouts of such works and is seeking their return to Berlin. more