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Hungary queries Russia on stolen art

MOSCOW, April 10 (JTA) — The Hungarian government has asked Moscow about the fate of art treasures stolen by the Nazis from Hungarian citizens and now kept in Russia. In its request, Hungary mentioned at least one Hungarian Jew as being the rightful owner of a collection of paintings now in Russia, according to news reports here. The request comes after the lower house of the Russian Parliament last week passed a bill to reassert Russia’s ownership of art treasures taken from Germany by Soviet squads after World War II. The bill has been criticized for not distinguishing between art works that belonged to Germany and those that had been looted by the Nazis from other countries. At the end of the war, the Soviet Union dispatched special teams to collect thousands of paintings, as well as archival material that included manuscripts and photographs, from the defeated Nazis. The so-called “trophy art” is significant to the Jewish community outside Russia because some of the looted works may originally have been taken from their Jewish owners by the Nazis. About 200,000 pieces of the trophy art are now stored in Russian museums and private collections.

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