The Second World War and After

Second World War
In May 1940 the German invaders ordered the Weigh House to close. Between 1939 and 1942 the museum staff attempted to provide a safe haven for the objects by transferring ownership to the Stedelijk Museum, while the many objects on loan to the museum were returned to their owners.
Eventually, on 28 April 1943, the collection of over 600 items that had been given to the Stedelijk Museum was confiscated by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg and transferred to the Institut zur Erforschung der Judenfrage in Frankfurt.

Return of the collection
Major Graswinckel and his chauffeur in front of Offenbach Archival Depot, 1946After the war, Major D.P.M. Graswinckel of the Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit (Dutch Art Heritage Foundation) discovered the remaining museum objects at Hungen. This is where the Institut zur Erforschung der Judenfrage had moved after Frankfurt had been bombed.
Books, documents and objects were brought to the nearby Offenbach Archival Depot, which had been set up by the American army to return the cultural heritage to its rightful owners.
The museum objects were sent back to the Netherlands in three transports. First one section in March 1946 under Graswinckel's supervision, then in September and November under the watchful eye of Jewish antique dealer Lion Morpurgo. He had been appointed civilian officer to help arrange the return of Jewish ceremonial objects from Germany. After these items were restored Morpurgo continued to support the Jewish Historical Museum, taking a place as curator on the new museum board in 1947.
Far fewer items were returned than had been confiscated. Of the c. 835 prewar objects, c. 210 have been identified in the present museum collection; around 400 items remain missing.

neglected witnessesNeglected Witnesses
For the war-history of the collection of the JHM, see also Julie-Marthe Cohen, 'Theft and Restitution of Judaica in the Netherlands During and After the Second World War', in Julie-Marthe Cohen, with Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek (eds), Neglected Witnesses. The Fate of Jewish Ceremonial Objects During the Second World War and After (Institute of Art and Law, in collaboration with the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, 2011), pp. 199-252.

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