Greater Middle East (bbabo.net), - The Czech state has returned valuable works of art to the descendants of a Jewish entrepreneur from Brno, Johann Bloch, who spent his family's fortune on them. They were lost by the Bloch family during World War II and the Holocaust.
Four paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries and ten vestments from the 19th century were received by the descendants of a Jewish entrepreneur on Tuesday evening in Prague from the Minister of Culture, Martin Baxa. “The Czech government also wants to ease the wounds inflicted by the Holocaust,” the minister said.
The artifacts were returned to the descendants of their original owners after 84 years of lengthy Czech-American negotiations. At the moment, four paintings are on display at the National Gallery in Prague, and ten vestments are at the Museum of Applied Arts.
Johann Bloch, who ran one of the largest leather processing factories in Czechoslovakia between the two world wars, was a major art collector. His collection included valuable paintings, sculptures, old furniture and textiles. After the Nazi occupation of the Czech Republic, the Jewish entrepreneur and his family wanted to leave for America, so he had to transfer his property to the state in accordance with the laws and regulations of the time. Despite this, family members were not allowed to leave and were killed in Nazi death camps during the war. However, their children managed to escape, and now their grandchildren have inherited part of the legacy of their ancestors. However, most of Bloch's assets given to the state have disappeared.
In 2011, the Czech Ministry of Culture established a department to search for Jewish property in the Czech Republic that went missing during World War II. In 2020, Johann Bloch's successors commissioned the Czech authorities to search for their family's missing property. The National Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts in Prague, based on a verification of the request, decided last fall to return the works of art stored in their expositions to the descendants of their former owners.
Minister Martin Baxa said at the event that dozens of similar cases still need to be addressed.