Rose Valland, on “the Art Front”

Coordination scientifique : Corinne Bouchoux

Key terms


The ERR (Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg für bestezte Gebiete) was the German outfit that organised the looting of art works during WWII. By the summer of 1940, it was in full swing, under the aegis of German ambassador to Vichy France Otto Abetz who answered directly to Hitler. On 30 October 1941, 450 crates had already been consigned to the ERR stockroom at the Jeu de Paume where the works to be dispatched to Germany were stored and sorted.


MNR (Musées Nationaux Récupérations) designate works of art that have not been recovered by their owners and thus remained “in escheatment” in French museums. Some belong to Jewish collectors denied their rights and who never returned from the death camps. Others could have been bought on the Paris market in the absence of any sign of their owners’ existence.


The theft of works by any means, “compulsory” sales. The Germans set up a programme for the looting of works they deemed “Germanic” and which they wanted to own. They also looted works they disliked (rated “Entartete Kunst” – degenerate art) but which they used in trade-offs.


After the Liberation, diverse commissions assessed the spoliations and looting carried out during the war. Rose Valland was deeply involved in the restitution effort, the aim of which was to find (or trace) an owner for every work and to return to every owner or assigns the works they owned.


Legal provisions depriving owners from their property. During WWII, the German Occupier appropriated quantity of assets (moveable, immoveable, artistic..) belonging to Jews or associations of persons (e.g. Masonic obediences).

Key terms