Oy May! Taking stock 70 years after World War II
December 5, 2019
This week countries around the world are celebrating 70 year anniversary of the end of World War II. On May 4, 1945, Denmark was liberated from the Nazi occupation. On May 3, 2015, General Chancellor Angela Merkel joined survivors and liberators of the Dachau concentration camp to mark the end of the War and to remind people not to forget “for the sake of the victims, for our sake and for the sake of future generation” the suffering that could subject other human beings for radical or rational reasons. On May 9, having suffered terrible losses during that war, the Russian Federation will celebrate the 70th anniversary with a Victory Day parade in Moscow anda roudn the nation, showcasing the current military might, military bands and and reunions of the veterans and survivors, with leaders of 26 countries planning to attend but none from Poland, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Norway, Germany, or Belarus. Former allies of the Soviet Union in defeating the Nazis are boycotting the event because the troubles of the present are overshadowing the importance of the history.
Property disputes and losses occur side by side with loss of human life and political disputes. Following the secret intervention of the Russian military forces onto the territory of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, military actions have coincided with, while understandably overshadowing, legal actions involving cultural property.
As the editors of the 2013 “Selling Russia’s Treasures: The Soviet Trade in Nationalized Art, 1917-1938” correctly note on the irreversible nature of the human losses, “[i]f the millions who have died in the years of repression could be returned to live, one might not so grieve the lost canvases. Alas, the dead cannot be brought back.” 70 years after the Nazi Germany and the Axis were defeated,