Poland demands return of paintings taken to Russia during WWII
The Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage has sent new restitution requests to Russia, the ministry announced on its website.
“The Polish artworks taken away by the authorities of the Soviet Union or its armed forces during World War II or immediately after it ended cannot be considered compensation for the Soviet Union’s military losses. They remain the property of Poland,” the department remarked.
The restitution requests sent by the Polish ministry in 2004, 2012 and 2014 include 17 artworks, one collection of more than 14,000 numismatic objects, more than 11,000 archive records and 58 objects from the Auschwitz concentration camp.
According to its official website, the ministry is now preparing another seven restitution requests regarding seven paintings that are currently in Russia.
Russia has refused to return any paintings. According to reports in the media, the Russian Ministry of Culture claims that Poland has no legal basis for demanding the return of the artworks. Vladislav Kononov, director of the Russian ministry’s museums department, said that matters of restitution and the return of canvases “are effectively a question of revising the outcome of World War II”, which is “out of the question”. “All of the relevant international agreements on this were reached already at the Yalta Conference in 1945, and additional agreements were signed between the Allied Powers thereafter,” he remarked.