Volkswagen Funds Hunt for Russian Art Lost in World War II

Peterhof Palace
Peterhof Palace in 1944, after the destruction by German troops in World War II. The palace is among the museums benefiting from a research project funded by Volkswagen and German government foundations to try to track down art treasures lost in the war. Source: Peterhof Royal Palace Museum via Bloomberg

March 8 (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen AG is providing funding of 600,000 euros ($794,000) for a German-Russian research project to track down Russian art treasures lost in World War II, a statement from two state-owned funding bodies said.

VolkswagenStiftung, the research-sponsorship arm of Europe’s biggest carmaker, will fund 75 percent of the 800,000 euro costs, with the rest coming from the two German state-owned funding institutions -- the States’ Cultural Foundation and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.

Russian museums lost hundreds of thousands of artworks and cultural treasures through plunder and destruction by German troops in World War II. The project will bring Russian and German historians and art historians together to comb the archives of both countries, as well as of the western allies.

“We have high hopes that we will not only gain new historical insights, but will also find traces leading to individual artworks,” the Russian museum curators were quoted in today’s statement. “Despite efforts to register losses and our own research, we still rely on assumptions and speculation. This project is a breakthrough.”

The research begins with the museums of Novgorod and Pskov as well as the royal palaces at Catherine Park, Gatchina, Pavlovsk and the Peterhof Palace, according to the statement.

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