“Restitution activities of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (MKiDN) in recent years have led to the discovery and recovery of almost 700 objects, including both war losses and contemporarily stolen objects”, said the ministry’s head Piotr Gliński during a presentation ceremony of monuments recovered thanks to MKiDN activities.
The most recent returns to the parent collections are the “Anthology of Turkish Poetry” – a manuscript from the University Library in Wrocław, stolen between 1964 and 1977; Melchior Steidl’s drawing ‘The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary’, stolen in 2005 from a private collection; and eight antique coins (16th-19th century) stolen from the District Museum in Toruń between 2008 and 2017.
The drawing by Melchior Steidl was recovered thanks to the Ministry’s cooperation with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the eight antique coins stolen from the District Museum in Toruń were retrieved thanks to cooperation with Polish law enforcement agencies and numismatic specialists, as well as the heir of one of the largest auction houses in Europe.
The Minister of Culture recalled that as a result of wartime actions, the planned looting carried out by the occupying forces, as well as looting and theft during the post-war chaos, more than half a million valuable works of art disappeared from Polish public, private and church collections.
“Since the end of the Second World War until today, especially during the dark times of communism and just after the so-called “breakthrough”, many antiquities from Polish collections have fallen prey to thieves. The lack of adequate safeguards, the lack of cooperation with law enforcement agencies in the West and the US, the Iron Curtain – all of this meant that works of art stolen from Polish museums were lost for many years”, noted Professor Piotr Gliński.
The national list of monuments stolen or illegally exported abroad currently includes around 12,000 pages of sought-after objects, reports the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.