Glossary

Explanations of terms from the field of provenance research and Proveana's four research contexts.

An overview page with all terms is also available.

R

Racial science / racial anthropology

Ever since the Enlightenment, European and subsequently North American scientists had been dealing with the question of how best to describe and classify human diversity and explain its origins. Depending on the theory, they assumed that humanity was divided into numerous “races” (the exact number varies) that had either developed from a common “ancestral lineage” or had always existed as separate groups. These considerations were linked to both evolutionist concepts and religious creationist views of the world in various combinations. In order to answer these questions, scientists examined the physical characteristics of individuals (e.g. skin and hair color, the shape and size of skulls) and connected them to cultural, political and religious practices of the groups concerned. The resulting classifications varied but commonly led to a hierarchical arrangement with an imagined “white / European race” at the top. When biological anthropology became established as a scientific discipline and colonial structures were expanded, researchers and/or their informers were suddenly able to travel to remote lands to collect skulls and data from living people, usually against their will (e.g. measurements, illustrations, sound recordings). This resulted in the emergence of a specialist field known as “racial science”, which had a direct impact on the relationship between the colonial rulers and the colonized peoples during the colonial period. Other disciplines such as ethnology, prehistory and early history also contributed to this. The physical traces of this science are still stored in many collections today: apart from the human remains itself this also includes measurement data, illustrations or publications. Particularly the former are often the subject of repatriation claims. The crimes committed by the Nazi Party can be traced straight back to colonial “racial science”. (SF)

  • Cultural goods and collections from colonial contexts

Red Flag Names

The Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU), a special intelligence unit created by the US government within the former Office of Strategic Services (OSS), produced a series of reports between 1945 and 1946 on the cultural property confiscated by the Nazis, including a list of the persons and entities involved. These were referred to as "Red Flag Names". The list notably includes German art dealers who were proven to have been involved in the confiscation of cultural property orchestrated by the Nazis. This list still forms the basis for initial suspicions regarding property confiscated by the Nazis. If an item is associated with a person or institution on the list of Red Flag Names, its provenance should be investigated. (SL)

List of ALIU Red Flag Names in Proveana

  • Cultural goods confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution

Central Registry of Information on Looted Cultural Property 1933-1945: Post-War Reports: Art Looting Intelligence Unit (ALIU) Reports 1945-1946 and ALIU Red Flag Names List and Index, www.lootedart.com/MVI3RM469661 (letzter Zugriff 02.12.2020).

Relocation of cultural goods

As the Third Reich looked increasingly likely to lose the war, more and more museum collections were relocated to protect them from the effects of war. The relocation effort had various consequences: Some items were destroyed at their new location or on the way there, while others became displaced or were looted in the turmoil of war, and items moved to eastern territories that no longer belonged to the Third Reich or its successor states after 1945 were completely lost. Such items are referred to as “cultural property displaced as a result of war” or “looted property” (as opposed to “confiscated property”). (SL)

  • Cultural goods confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution
  • Cultural goods displaced as a result of war

Request for information

If presumed lawful owners or their legal representatives suspect that an item preserved by a cultural heritage institution (e.g. a library or museum) was confiscated from them or their ancestors over the course of Nazi persecution, they can request further information from the institution concerned. This is often a reason for the institution to check the provenance of the item in question by conducting →individual research. If the item is confirmed to have been expropriated over the course of Nazi persecution, the aim is to bring about a “fair and just solution” in line with the Washington Principles. (SL)

  • Cultural goods confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution

Restitution request

If presumed lawful owners or their legal representatives believe that an item preserved by a cultural heritage institution (e.g. a library or museum) was confiscated from them or their ancestors over the course of Nazi persecution, they can request the return of the item from the institution concerned. In an ideal scenario, they can prove the facts based on their own research. The institution itself may have already classified the item as "suspicious" and therefore reported it as a find to the Lost Art Database, where it can be viewed publicly by claimants. In other cases, a restitution request is reason for the institution to check the provenance of the item in question by conducting →individual research. If the item is confirmed to have been expropriated over the course of Nazi persecution, the aim is to bring about a "fair and just solution" in line with the Washington Principles. (SL)

  • Cultural goods confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution

Return request

  • Cultural goods confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution