Almost 700 items of lost Polish cultural property recovered by ministry
Close to 700 items of historical value lost during WWII or stolen since 1945 have been recovered over the last few years, says Poland's Culture Ministry.
Culture minister Piotr Glinski said on Monday: "The Polish state is searching continually for the huge number of artworks lost during wartime, as well as for those which disappeared in the second half of the 20th century and in recent times.
"As the outcome of military operations, the planned looting conducted by the German and Soviet occupiers and as a result of the plunder and thefts during the post-war chaos, over half a million valuable works of art disappeared from Polish public, private and Church collections."
Many items of art disappeared after World War Two especially during the communist and post-communist periods, during which many items from Polish collections fell prey to thieves or were commissioned to be stolen.
Glinski continued: "Back in those times, the objects were immediately taken abroad and sold.
"The lack of appropriate safeguards, a lack of cooperation with law enforcement agencies in the West, the US and this side of the Iron Curtain meant that the works of art stolen from Polish museums were lost for many years.
"Today, when they appear on the global art market, in foreign auction houses or museums, we have diverse and greater possibilities of tracking and securing these objects.
Most recently, recovered arts of work have included Madonna with Child painted by the Italian master Alessandro Turchi at the end of the 16th century which was stolen by the Germans during the war from the extensive Lubomirski art collection in Przeworsk.
Last year, Polish culture ministry art hunters tracked it down to an auction house in Tokyo.
In June this year, the painting was officially handed over to the Polish embassy.
In the same month, 11 works of art stolen during and after World War II were transferred to the National Museum in Warsaw.
The recovered works include Roman Szwojnicki's 'Siuprem Greenery,' 'Concerto' by Jan Horemans and a collection of six photographs with views of the Tatra Mountains and Zakopane by Kraków photographer Stanisław Bizański.
A few months earlier, two 15th-century paintings looted by German forces during the war were returned to Poland after being tracked down to the Museo Provincial de Pontevedra in Spain.
"Ecce Homo" and "Mater Dolorosa" by Dutch artist Dieric Bouts will now be displayed in their original location in the Gołuchów Castle Museum in western Poland.
Glinski said: "The development of the internet and new technologies along with modern recovery methods as well as the increase in social awareness concerning the loss of cultural objects make the routine work [of finding them] much easier."
To read more about Poland’s efforts to track down missing artwork click here.