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Believe Art Collection Contains Items Taken from Jewish Families

A Dutch Reform rabbi is considering a trip to South Africa to discuss an art collection bequeathed to the University of Pretoria by a former Nazi collaborator which is believed to contain many items that belonged to Dutch Jewish families deported to Nazi camps during World War II.

Rabbi Avraham Soetendorp of the Liberal congregation in The Hague has refused to let the matter drop. He said he wanted to raise it personally with the university board of governors. The collection was willed to the Pretoria University by the late Jacob Van Tilburg who was an Alderman in Dordrecht, Holland during the Nazi occupation. Directly after the war, a Dutch de-Nazification court sentenced him to 13 months imprisonment for collaboration with the enemy

Van Tilberg, who settled in South Africa in 1951, is believed to have persuaded some 20 wealthy Jewish families in Holland to entrust their painting and objects d’art to his safekeeping to prevent them from being looted by the Nazis. Most of the Jews perished in death camps. When the survivors returned, Van Tilburg allegedly refused to return their Measures and absconded with them.

The art collection consists of paintings, Persian carpets, antique vases and silverware. The University of Pretoria has stated that it is prepared to return the objects to any survivor who can provide solid proof of post ownership. But after 40 years, it is difficult if not impassible for the survives to provide such proof

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