The Portrait of Esther The Black Notebook

Backdated donations: a trick soon discovered by the Germans

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Episode II - page 85

Very quickly, the ‘false donations’ accepted by the Louvre to protect private art collections were discovered by the German authorities. The ERR (Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg), a taskforce put in place by the Nazis to oversee the appropriation of cultural property, soon discovered the truth behind the false paperwork.

Alfred Rosenberg, Nuremberg
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

This organization, headed by Alfred Rosenberg, was heavily influenced by Goering. Both Hitler and Goering made use of the finds of the taskforce to add to their own private art collections.

For organizational purposes and in order to justify their work, the ERR kept a register of all plundered artwork. In the form of labels and photographs, these archives would prove to be an important source of documentation after the war allowing the artworks to be returned to their rightful owners or institutions.

The ERR sent the confiscated artworks for sorting to the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris. This was the fate of Esther’s portrait. After this, the final destination of the artworks varied and in some cases, all traces of them were lost.

Fiche ERR
National Archives and Records Administration