Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Prague -- Holocaust Era Assets Conference

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

The Holocaust Era Assets Conference convenes in Prague this weekend, gathering representives from many countries to deal with the unresolved issues of property restitution and recovery of art and other objects looted from Jews (and others) during and after the Shoah. You can see the program HERE. The meeting is a follow up to several other major international conferences on these issues.

More than six decades after World War II the terrible ghosts of the Holocaust have not disappeared. The perverse ideology that led to the horrors of the Holocaust still exists and throughout our continents racial hatred and ethnic intolerance stalk our societies. Therefore, it is our moral and political responsibility to support Holocaust remembrance and education in national, as well as international, frameworks and to fight against all forms of intolerance and hatred.

The stated aims of the conference are:

  • To assess the progress made since the 1998 Washington Conference on Holocaust Era Assets in the areas of the recovery of looted art and objects of cultural, historical and religious value (according to the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art and the Vilnius Forum Declaration 2000), and in the areas of property restitution and financial compensation schemes.
  • To review current practices regarding provenance research and restitution and, where needed, define new effective instruments to improve these efforts.
  • To review the impact of the Stockholm Declaration of 2000 on education, remembrance and research about the Holocaust.
  • To strengthen the work of the Task Force on International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, a 26-nation body chaired by the Czech Republic in 2007-2008.
  • To discuss new, innovative approaches in education, social programs and cultural initiatives related to the Holocaust and other National Socialist wrongs and to advance religious and ethnic tolerance in our societies and the world.

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