What are the rules regarding the restitution of art looted during World War II and how can they be applied in Switzerland?
Switzerland is a signatory to several international agreements, such as the Washington Principles of 1998 and the Terezin Principles of 2009, which encourage the restitution of art looted during World War II to their original owners or their legitimate heirs. In Switzerland, these rules are enforced by federal authorities, museums, and private collectors.
Switzerland has also adopted the Federal Act on the Return of Cultural Property Illicitly Removed during the Second World War (Return of Cultural Property Act) in 1998, which defines the criteria and procedures for restitution of cultural property looted during the Nazi period. This law was amended in 2005 to include the period of World War II in its scope.
Under this law, restitution claims can be made by the legitimate heirs of the original owners or by foreign governments. The claims must be examined by an independent expert commission, which assesses the evidence and makes recommendations regarding restitution or financial compensation.
In case of disputes, Swiss courts can be seized. Swiss courts have already rendered several important decisions regarding the restitution of art looted during World War II, such as the restitution in 2011 of a painting by Paul Klee to its legitimate heirs.
In summary, Switzerland enforces international rules regarding the restitution of art looted during World War II, as well as its own law on looted cultural property. Restitution claims are examined by an independent expert commission and can be brought before Swiss courts in case of disputes.