Vienna Jewish museum contains looted objects, officials say

(JTA) — Officials from the Jewish Museum of Vienna said that hundreds of objects in the museum’s possession were looted from Jewish families during the Holocaust.

A review of the artifacts found 490 objects and more than 980 books that may have been stolen from Jewish owners, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

“For historic reasons, people did not see themselves responsible for investigating the collection referring to provenance,” Christian Kircher, a member of the museum’s board, told the newspaper. “This attitude changed completely during the last few years.”

Museum officials said that researching the origin of Judaica can be quite difficult, given the few identifying markers and the fact that most Jewish institutions that existed before the Holocaust were destroyed. They also cited the lack of funds for such research.

“Our situation is not comparable to any other museum in Austria,” said Danielle Spera, who became the museum director in 2010.

“Anything that was acquired illegally ought to be returned," she told the Austrian Der Standard daily last month. "There will not be a hint of hesitation.”

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