The Nazis looted Europe's treasures. A Supreme Court ruling casts doubt on their return.

The treasure is now valued at $ 250 million, but the cost of the case and others who like it is much higher.

Germany has received praise for addressing its dark history with concerted efforts in education and culture, but in recent years far-right support and anti-Semitism has increased again.

And while she also set up the Expert Commission specifically to deal with such cases, Jewish families and experts have questioned the country’s appetite to help heirs recover their stolen property.

The Nazis confiscated An estimated 20 percent of the art in Europe, with dozens of items still not being returned to the families who owned them.

Given the difficult task, dozens of countries have turned Washington Principles on Art Confiscated by the Nazis in 1998 in an effort to speed up the process.

The federal government has appealed to private owners, collectors and institutions to honor the non-binding agreement that thousands of items were returned to their rightful owners, a spokesman for the Commissioner for Culture and Media said.

However, the German return system is poor compared to neighboring countries, experts said, especially when it comes to its speed.

The Commission has only dealt with one 18 cases Since it was founded in 2003. Compared to Austria, the low number of cases reflects the German “ad hoc” approach, said O’Donnell.

“Germany did not deserve a victory in Nazi return cases and I fear that this procedural victory will affect other applicants in the future,” said Christopher Marinello, lawyer and CEO of Art Recovery International, a company that specializes in returning looted art. “Seventy-six years after the war, German laws are still completely inadequate to deal with the Nazi restitution claims,” ​​he added.

Enforcement is also a problem as the commission struggles to implement its decision on the rare 300-year-old Guarneri violin owned by a Jewish family in a recent case Media attention.

It determined in 2016 that the instrument, which is currently owned by a private music foundation in Nuremberg, was either forcibly sold or confiscated by the Gestapo after Felix Hildesheimer’s family fled persecution.

Felix Hildesheimer sits at his piano in Speyer. The music shop owner lost his non-Jewish customers due to the boycott by the Nazis and had to give up his family’s business and home in 1937.Courtesy Sidney Strauss

Because of the barely received sales records, the commission asked the Music Foundation to pay the surviving grandchildren of the family the equivalent of US $ 120,000 and keep the violin as a compromise.

But four years later, the heirs still haven’t received the money. Last month the commission problematic a severe criticism to no avail.

A spokesman said the commission’s proposals were not legally binding on citizens and private foundations due to legal concerns about property violations.

Marinello, which is in a separate bitter quarrel with Germany on behalf of a Jewish family in the hope of getting their stolen Degas painting back, stalemates in such cases are described as “typical”.

“There was always more frustration on the part of everyone,” said Sidney Strauss, Hildesheimer’s grandson.

“It is also very important to remember that behind each item examined by the commission there is a unique, personal family history,” he added. “It could include the loss of a business or a life.”

For families like his, the struggle to reclaim what they can do continues.

Carlo Angerer and The Associated Press contributed.

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