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Exhibition of art looted from Czech Jews opens in Prague

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Prague, May 2 (CTK) – The exhibition Looted Art describing the fate of the artefacts bought, collected and loved by the Czech Jews the Nazis sent to death during World War Two opened in the Nostic Palace in Prague centre on Tuesday.

The exhibition was prepared by the Centre for the Documentation of Property Transfers of Cultural Artefacts of World War Two Victims that is in charge of the search for the property of its former Jewish owners in Czech state collections.

There is still some work to be done even more than a quarter-century after the end of the Communist regime in 1989, Helena Krejcova, the director of the centre, told CTK on Tuesday.

The approach of some administrators of the public collections is not always perfect, Krejcova said.

“The Holocaust was not only the biggest mass murder in history, but also the biggest mass robbery,” Tomas Kraus, the secretary of the Federation of Jewish Communities, said at the opening.

It is almost impossible to return the property because entire families perished and too much times has passed. This is why the centre at least wants the artefacts of original owners to be denoted by the labels with the original owners’ names, Krejcova said.

“This is their memory,” she added.

“The museum staff often do not have the required knowledge and experience that is needed for the search for the property and its identification,” Krejcova said.

“It may happen that a transport number is on the back side of an exhibit, but it takes a long time to find out what the number really means, while it may denote a specific person,” she added.

There are many regional institutions with a small staff, Krejcova said.

Some institutions are afraid that they might lose their exhibits. The fear sometimes makes them remove the labels proving their origin from an exhibit, she added.

The centre was formed soon after 2000. Last year, the government approved its another, five-year work. It receives 14 million crowns from the Culture Ministry budget.

The centre has made a detailed catalogue of the artefacts in the Prague Museum of Decorative Arts (UPM). In it, each of the artefacts identified as original Jewish property was given a caption with its origin.

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