Nazi-banned art trove dug up from bombed-out Berlin cellars

8th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

A treasure trove of sculptures banned by the Nazis has been uncovered from the bombed-out cellars of a Berlin house destroyed during World War II, German museum officials said on Monday.

Eleven bronze or terracotta statues, dating from the early 20th century and outlawed by the Nazis in the late 1930s as "degenerate art", will go on display Tuesday at Berlin's archeological museum, a kilometre (less than a mile) from where they were found just weeks ago.

Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit said he was delighted at the find, just outside his city hall, adding that ownership of the art pieces had not yet been determined.

"We should just be happy that these pieces have been found. The question of ownership is relatively unimportant," he added.

Eight of the sculptures, some of which are damaged, have been identified as the works of German artists Otto Baum, Otto Freundlich, Karl Knappe, Marg Moll, Emy Roeder, Edwin Scharff, Gustav Heinrich Wolff, and Naum Slutzky.

The other three are as yet unidentified, according to Hermann Parzinger, head of the Institute of Prussian Culture.

The small-sized sculptures were seized from a number of museums in Germany in 1937 and then exhibited in Munich and other German towns by the Nazis as "degenerate art" which people were meant to laugh at.

The archeologists found the artefacts as they were digging for medieval pieces in a trench which will form part of a new metro line in central Berlin.

© 2010 AFP

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