Germany’s minister of culture says she supports the inclusion of a Jewish community member in Germany’s “Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property” — better known as the Limbach Commission.
The committee is named after its chairperson, Prof. Dr. Jutta Limbach, the former head of the German Federal Constitutional Court.
Monika Grütters, Germany’s minister of culture, confirmed her support of a Jewish committee member to Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin, during a meeting last Tuesday at the offices of the Federal Chancellery of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The committee was established 13 years ago by the German federal government together with the German states and municipalities, with the purpose to act as an advisory body in disputes involving the restitution of cultural assets held by German institutions. Even though its resolutions are legally considered non-obligatory, it is viewed as a mediating and intermediary agent. Furthermore, the fact that the head of the committee is a former Federal Constitutional Court judge, along with the high public profile of the rest of the committee members, means that its resolutions are vested with high moral authority.
In recent years, a number of claims made to the committee received a large public and media exposure, which at times led to criticism regarding the committee’s work, with Jewish factors calling to consider adding a member of the Jewish community to the committee.
During her meeting with Rabbi Teichtal, Grütters stated that she views with the utmost importance, the efficient and open handling of restitution claims of cultural and artistic assets of holocaust survivors and their legal heirs. Grütters added that it is the duty of the German government including the ministry of culture, towards the holocaust survivors and their families. Therefore, she intends to positively consider adding a member of the Jewish community to the committee board in her forthcoming talks with the German states and municipalities, in order to boost the confidence in the committee’s work and its transparency.
Rabbi Teichtal thanked the minister for her commitment to the Jewish community in Germany in particular and towards the Holocaust survivors in General.
The rabbi added that minister Grütters is a true friend of the Jewish people and that if there are any arguments regarding certain issues, it is important to verify that they are handled in the way arguments should be handled between friends.