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Spoils of War v. Cultural Heritage: The Russian Cultural Property Law in Historical Context
February 8-9, 2008


Langdell South Classroom, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA

www: www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/martin/art_law/russian_law.htm


Harvard Law School Arts & Literature Law Society
Commission for Art Recovery
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University
Foundation for International Cultural Diplomacy
Harvard Law School European Law Research Center

Free and open to the public with online registration (space permitting)

After WWII, Soviet authorities, seeking reparations for the extensive costs of Nazi aggression, used special "Trophy Brigades" to empty museums, castles, and salt mines in Germany and Eastern Europe, transporting millions of cultural treasures to the USSR. These included German state-owned cultural objects, cultural objects taken from churches and synagogues, as well as a great deal of private property that had been looted by the Germans from individuals. The art works taken back to the Soviet Union were held in relative secrecy for years, until the final years of glastnost. As European countries started to demand their cultural treasures and archives, Russian legislators passed a law that potentially nationalizes all cultural treasures brought to Russia at the end of World War II. In 1999 the Constitutional Court issued an opinion basically upholding the law if amended before implementation. How do these actions comport with international law? What are the chances for restitution of these displaced cultural valuables?


Friday, February 8, 2008

1:00 p.m. - Welcome

The Evolution of Cultural Property Protection in International Law Restitution of Cultural Property at the End of WWII Stalin's Decrees and Soviet Trophy Brigades Legality of Soviet Displacement of Cultural Valuables under International Law 5:30 p.m. - Reception

Saturday, February 9, 2008

8:30 a.m. - Continental breakfast

  • The Post-1991 Political Search to Legalize 'Compensation': the Long Battle over the Russian Law on Displaced Cultural Valuables
  • The Legality and Constitutionality of the Russian Federal Law on Cultural Valuables Displaced to the USSR as the Result of the Second World War and Located on the Territory of the Russian Federation
  • The Constitutionality of the Russian Federal Law on Cultural Valuables
  • Status of the Russian Law under International Law


  • Russian-German Negotiations over Displaced Cultural Valuables
  • The Legal Situation with regard to German “Trophy Art” in Russia – a German Perspective'
  • Non-Restitution under the Law: the Baldin-Bremen Case
  • Archives: the Forgotten Restitution Achievements under the Law
  • Trophy Art, Art Loans and Immunity From Seizure in both the US and UK

5:00 p.m. - Conclusions

- Appropriate breaks with refreshments will be provided -

Contact e-mail: lawlibr@law.harvard.edu.

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