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The Fate of Jewish-Owned Cultural Property: Florence during WWII

Brasca, Daria (2016) The Fate of Jewish-Owned Cultural Property: Florence during WWII. Advisor: Catoni, Prof. Maria Luisa. Coadvisor: Casini, Prof. Lorenzo . pp. 404. [IMT PhD Thesis]

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Abstract

The research investigates on the fate of the Jewish-owned Cultural Heritage during WWII in Italy and In the particular in Florence and its Province. Starting from the Report of the Anselmi Commission published in 2001 and of the publication of L’Opera da Ritrovare in which is listed the heritage still missing from WWII, the research addresses the issues left pending regarding the management, the transfer, the appropriation, the protection and the looting of the artworks and artistic objects owned by the Italian and foreign Jews during the war. The anti-Jewish legislation. Especially under the Social Italian Republic, had a drastic effects on the property rights and assets. When the Nation provisions were applied from the beginning of 1944, the confiscation orders listed everything: not only silverware, real estate, land, carpets, household objects and personal effects, but also artworks & valuable objects. But in many cases the provisions have acted quite outside the law, engaging pillages and forced appropriation of artworks, for the most part, subsequently proved untraceable. The decisions made the institutions and local public bodies, as the Florentine Head of Province and Prefecture, not only flew in the dace of individual rights but also revealed the clear temptation to become an accomplices of the illegality, or even to act for their own personal advantage. To understand the complexity of this political and cultural climate, the research plan was to predicate upon a precise choice: to consult as many sources as possible in order to throw light on events that involved both individuals and institutions. Crossing the data of the documentation conserved in the Central Archive of the State and in the Florentine public archives with that of the Jewish community and of the heirs of the persecuted, the study re-frame the fate of art and book collections collected in Florence and its Province. Every single collection that the research investigated had a really personal story of taste, value and fate during and after the war. What they have in common is the fact that the all the collections were transferred from the right owners to others possessors – Fascists, Nazis, or common people, inside and outside the city. The result of the investigation through various archival funds shows clearly the right responsibilities amongst individuals and the institutions. In the frame is fundamental the role of the Superintendence of the Galleries of Florence, that while through inefficient regulatory instruments, tried to limit the misappropriation of the many important collections conserved in the Jewish and ‘enemy subjects’ house. The looting that took place in Florence are not limited in the cases that I’m presenting in this research. The information do not reflect the full scale of the seizures that occurred with regard to the cultural Jewish property; many objects of lesser artistic value, quite untraceable yesterday like today, were transfer in/out the city for all the duration of the war and post. The caution becomes necessary when listing the property that has definitely been lost or recovered. The investigation, especially in the criminal trials’ funds, demonstrates that it is determinant do supplementary analysis of acts of despoilment where the ultimate fate of the material seized is still unknown. The research on the Florentine case, due to its complexity, pretend to became a model to be apply in the rest of the country where the attention is not yet focused on this issue. Based on a massive archival investigation through different funds of many archives and on the consolidated international guidelines, the research provides a new prospective of the Italian Shoah studies and in the Nazi Era Looted Art field.

Item Type: IMT PhD Thesis
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
PhD Course: Management and Development of Cultural Heritage
Identification Number: 10.6092/imtlucca/e-theses/212
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2017 10:21
URI: http://e-theses.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/212

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