Treachery and crimes against humanity rarely stay buried forever. Despite all of the obfuscation and lies by their perpetrators, time has a doggedly persistent way of bringing truth to the surface — sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively. Two recent remarkable stories from Europe dramatically underscore that fact.
In Germany, a king’s ransom of an art treasure, worth more than $1.35 billion was discovered in a grotty apartment over-filled with expired canned goods. Among the 1,500 paintings were exquisite masterpieces by Picasso, Renoir, Matisse, and Chagall. So how did a national gallery’s worth of art end up in a depressing Munich apartment behind a stack of 30-year-old canned beans owned by an almost identity-less recluse, Cornelius Gurlitt? The line traces directly back to the Nazi persecution of Jews and “decadent artists” in the run-up to World War II.
The above excerpt was originally published in Foreign Policy.
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