03 May 2011

The Jewish question at the Jeu de Paume, 1940-1944

Needless to say, the ostensible function of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) was to remove from all territories under Nazi influence or domination by whatever available means all cultural items, writ large, from owners, custodians, and possessors identified as “Jewish.”

In German-occupied Paris, the Jeu de Paume turned into an unwieldy processing center for all objects plundered by units of the ERR as well as their colleagues in the Gestapo, the so-called Geheime Feld Polizei GFP) or Field Police Units and the Devisenschutzkommandos (DSKs)—technically, those responsible for monitoring the illicit ownership of metals, securities, and jewels in banks and financial institutions.  Some of those objects even came from Brussels.

Official Nazi cultural policy aimed at the elimination of all Jewish influence from Kultur.

Yet, when art historians, experts, and museum officials screened, sorted, catalogued, and indexed those stolen objects before their shipment to the Reich, the Nazi crusade against Jews revealed some serious cracks.

Jozef Israels, Belg. MA-B 35
Source: Bundesarchiv via ERR Project
Although they constitute a very small minority of the stolen objects brought into the Jeu de Paume for “processing,” the ERR staff mulled the fate of 61 works produced by artists identified explicitly as “Jude!”. The verdict: Not a single one of those works was destroyed. Of that group, 8 were set aside to be sold on the Paris art market, 1 was slated for exchange, and the rest, so far as we know, were shipped out to the Reich, of which 10 are known to have been repatriated to France.

The following “Jude!” artists authored those 61 works:

Jules Adler, MA-B 1002
Source: Bundesarchiv via ERR Project
Max Liebermann, Si-ERF 1
Source: Bundesarchiv via ERR Project
Jules Adler, Naoum Aronson, Léon Bakst, Marc Chagall, Jehudo Epstein, Grigory Gluckmann, Leopold Horowitz, Jozef Israels, Max Jacob, Moïse Kisling, Alphonse Lévy, Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, Max Liebermann, Amédéo Modigliani, Max (Mopp) Oppenheim, Emil Orlik, Jules Pascin, Claude Pissarro, Chaim Soutine, Eugen Spiro, André Strauss, Lesser Ury, Eugène Zak.

For more information, go to www.errproject.org/jeudepaume and search on each individual artist.