Museum of Military History
Status of provenance research at the Museum of Military History/Institute of Military History (June 2006)
The Museum of Military History/Institute of Military History was ordered by Ministerial Degree No. 154 of 15 April 1998 to conduct research, like the museums of the Republic of Austria subordinate at the time to the Federal Ministry of Education and Art, into the “correct acquisition” of cultural items by its collections between 1938 and 1965. In the course of this research it was established that the Museum of Military History was also affected by some “wrongful” acquisitions from seized Jewish assets e.g. items assigned to it by the then Institute for the Protection of Monuments. From March 1938 to May 1945, a total of 11,345 objects were acquired by the Museum of Military (History) through purchase, donations or allocation. Research to date has established that 52 of these items came from collections “aryanised” by the National Socialist Regime. The Museum also received allocations from the Gestapo in Vienna. Most of the Museum’s holdings remained in the main museum during the war but were moved elsewhere towards the end. Some of them had to be passed on or loaned, for example, to the Zeughaus (old arsenal) in Berlin and were subsequently lost.
In accordance with legal provisions, some of the holdings were returned to their rightful owners or heirs in 1945. Cases examined by the Commission for Provenance Research and the Art Restitution Advisory Board (Alphonse de Rothschild, Bondy and Hofmannsthal collections) resulted in 1999 and 2000 in the restitution to their former owners or heirs of objects coming under the Art Restitution Law that had not been returned hitherto.
translated by Nick Somers, edited by National Fund