Bode
The gilded medieval art objects at the centre of the court case are on display at Berlin’s Bode Museum. Photo by Cezary Piwowarski via Wikimedia Commons.

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This ruling, regarding a collection of medieval treasures, could set a precedent after a US federal judge allowed a lawsuit to proceed.

The case involves the heirs of three Jewish art dealers who are claiming that in 1935 the Nazis forced their families into selling the collection below market price. These objects, known as the Welfenschatz collection, are now in Berlin's Bode Museum.

The ruling on March 31, in Washington DC, disallowed Germany’s efforts to dismiss the lawsuit.

Restitution Claims

The case is one of the first affected by the new Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (Hear) Act, which makes it easier for Nazi-related restitution claims to be filed in the US. 

According to Reuters, Germany believes the US court should not rule on the affairs of Germany. However, the US court argued it can be considered a taking of property which is in violation of international law.

The ruling comes three years after a German commission found that the 1935 deal was not a forced sale.

The Welfenschatz was collected for centuries by the Brunswick Cathedral in Germany and in 1929 a group of Jewish art dealers in Germany bought the art from the Duke of Brunswick.

The Dresdner Bank then purchased the collection on behalf of Hitler’s deputy, Hermann Goering, in 1935.