Перемещенные культурные ценности

Christine Koenigs
Geldersekade 51
1011 EK Amsterdam
tel: 31.20.638102
3 fax:
mobile: +.
e-mail: koenigs@xs4all.nl

MOSCOW CONFERENCE 10-11 April 2000


This is the story of my grandfather; this is a story with a very sad ending. This is the story of how the drawings ended up in East Germany and now in Russia.

FRANZ KOENIGS was an international banker, born in September 3, 1881 in Kierberg, the son of the German Banker Franz W. Koenigs. His mother was Johanna Bunge. Franz and his brother Karl were privately educated. The education was demanding, harsh and spartan. After completing his gymnasium Franz started working at the bank. In 1914 he replaced his uncle Felix as managing director at the Berlin Bank Delbruck-Schickler, and he held the similar position at the Delbruck-von der Heydt bank. He had married Countess Anna von Kalckreuth. She was the daughter of the painter Count Leopold von Kalckreuth and the Countess Bertha Yorck von Wartenburg.

In 1922 Franz Koenigs opened a bank in Amsterdam with his cousins Alfred and Felix Rhodius on Keizersgracht 121; the Rhodius-Koenigs bank.
They were related through his mother Johanna Bunge, and her sister Sofia Bunge of the Dutch born, Antwerp - Amsterdam family Bunge, trading in Grain and Textiles (later Bunge Born).

Many Germans involved in banking experienced financial difficulties after World War I, they came to the Netherlands in the early 1920's, like Koenigs, Kramarsky, Mannheimer, Gutmann, etc. The depression followed and in the late 1930's, due to the freeze of the reparation payments known as the "Stillhalte" and the later freezing of the Reichs Mark, known as the "Transfer Moratorium" they found themselves in severe problems.3

Franz Koenigs also had a more serious problem. He and other members of the family were threatened by the rise of Hitler and Nazism. He opposed Hitler and feared the consequences of the National Socialist Party in power. In 1937 he took a bold step and applied for Dutch citizenship.3 His request was granted in 1939 and he gave up his German citizenship. In this act he gave up hopes in obtaining much of his money and family land in Germany.

In 1936 Franz Koenigs eldest son Ernst, a 2 meter tall young boy of barely 20, was studying in Germany. He was sent to England for safety because he was endangered by communist sympathies within right wing Germany. He signed up to fight against Franco and entered the Trotzkist "P.O.U.M. melite". A message of his death was soon received.

Franz Koenigs and Anna von Kalckreuths families were focus points of anti-Nazi and Hitler activities. Later two of her close relatives were executed after attempting to assassinate Hitler. I have found documents indicating that Franz Koenigs was active in helping Jewish Refugees4 and other Germans to leave Germany. He helped to give them refuge in the Netherlands and traveled to Germany to aid in some of these efforts.

Though my grandfather was a successful banker, his great love and passion was his collection of Old Master Drawings. He became a passionate brilliant and knowledgeable collector- who began to put together the greatest collection of Old Master Drawings privately held of his generation. He was an exceptional collector who bought with his own taste using his own eye, he was rarely advised.

He acquired over 2100 drawings of remarkable cultural value.
Leonardo Da Vinci's "Leda and the Swan" and not to mention the books in Moroccan red leather by Fra Bartolomeo from the collection of the Duke of Sachsen Weimar. The drawings covered all schools: German, Dutch, English, French, Italian, Flemish, Rembrandt and Spanish.
They were assembled lovingly drawing by drawing, day by day, week by week over a period of 20 years from 1920 to 1941 they were unquestionably a great achievement and cultural contribution. For 20-30 years he was widely recognized for being the most passionate and respected collector of Old Master Drawings in the world. He was persistently interested in art and always aware of the art market. From the age of 17 he frequented auctions, art- dealers, exhibitions, and museums. The drawings were acquired from sales and private collections all over Europe. Art- dealers would correspond with him accordingly, following his tracks to many Hotels. Letters about the results of their purchases would reach him that way and join him on his travels. Fritz Lugt, a collector and dealer in Old Master Drawings, who founded "the Foundation Custodian", "the Institut Neerlandais" in Paris after the war wrote on February 28, 1931 to Koenigs: "I was thinking of your Russian journey and one moment I thought to join you on your trip. But I gave up this idea. Though I would like to suggest you to visit Herrn P. Ettinger, 10 Novaya Basmannaya (if he is still alive!) to give him my warmest regards and in Leningrad at the Hermitage, Mr. M. Dobroklonsky" 5

When Franz Koenigs and his wife moved from Berlin to Haarlem in 1923, their collection of drawings and paintings were kept at their home in the Florapark.
Many visitors passed their house to look at the drawings and paintings. Students, interested scholars and even members of the royal family, choose the particular schools they wanted to see. In the salon, stood a covered billiard-table where the drawings would be laid out, around the table were cabinets containing the drawings. My grandmother took care of them she matted and would sometimes frame them. They were generally kept in their black boxes as this is the best way to preserve drawings.

In 1935 Dirk Hannema the director of the Boymans museum in Rotterdam, finished constructing his new museum. On April 5, 1935 Hannema writes "to the Mayor and the Rotterdam city council, announcing that a most important loan on long term has been offered to the Boymans Museum in honor of the official opening of the museum's new building; that the loan concerns the famous Koenigs Collection, a collection of old paintings and a special collection of drawings in possession of F. Koenigs, Haarlem; that this collection is ensured for 3.5 million guilders, proving its special importance." Hannema goes on: "I am very much delighted to have the personal contact with this great collector which led to this loan; the undersigned would appreciate it very much if your council would send F. Koenigs a letter of appreciation to show your contentedness. The director of this Museum." 6

On July 16, 1935 the Boymans Museum festively opened their doors of the brand new museum to the Queen and Franz Koenigs's Old Master Paintings and Old Master Drawings collection. The collection was then insured for 4.5 million guilders.

Because of the economic turmoil throughout Germany and Europe, Franz Koenigs was clearly under financial pressure. Because of the "Still-halte" in 1931, the freeze of the reparation payments and the transfer moratorium. Franz Koenigs solved the situation partially by involving Prudential who agreed to guarantee the "Still-halte" obligation Koenigs had with several English companies by taking an 80% shareholding position in the Rhodius-Koenigs bank. 7

Later Franz Koenigs arranged to obtain a five year interest only loan from the Amsterdam bank Lisser & Rosenkranz. The director and shareholder was Siegfried Kramarsky a German Jewish banker from Hamburg who had taken position in Amsterdam in 1922.

The loan agreement between Franz Koenigs and the Lisser & Rosenkranz Bank dated 5 June 1935, for a fixed period of five years for 1.3 million guilders with a 4% interest. There are a number of open issues concerning what the security for the loan was: some of Franz Koenigs's old master drawing collection, likely excluding the French drawings, plus some or none of the paintings. The loan had a fixed five year term and would not become due till June 5, 1940. 8

In 1938 Paul Sachs, the art collector in Boston at the Fogg Art museum at Harvard University received an obscure letter from Delius Giese a dealer from London who offers to sell Paul Sachs the Old Master Drawings from Koenigs's collection. Giese suggests to purchase the drawings school by school. Jakob Rosenberg the Rembrandt scholar at Harvard, passes the letter on to his brother Saemmy Rosenberg and both wonder about the letter. Saemmy remarks that this collection is very precious to Koenigs and he wouldn't let it near a small time dealer. Saemmy sends Koenigs a telegram to clear up matters. Franz Koenigs responds with a telegram: " GIESE WAS NEVER IMPOWERED BY ME. HAVE ABSOLUTELY REJECTED TODAY ON THE LETTER FROM HIM KOENIGS" 9

Though the matter was closed, the possibility and curiosity of a possible purchase was arisen. Correspondence shows that Jakob Rosenberg and his brother Saemmy take the matter to heart. He explains to Paul Sachs that he will have to come up with a good offer to purchase the Koenigs collection, but that the real difficulties concerning this collection lie elsewhere:
1. the danger how to avoid and prevent Hannema, the director of the Boymans Museum, from grabbing and seizing the collection.
2. after a precise evaluation of the drawings how to bring together the reacquired sum.

Saemmy Rosenberg was a good friend and colleague of Jacques Goudstikker. Though this friendship wouldn't proof to be beneficial to Paul Sachs.
Jacques Goudstikker was the most important art-dealer in Holland at that time.

On February 9, 1939 Koenigs and his family were granted Dutch citizenship.

Siegfried Kramarsky, the director of the bank Lisser & Rosenkranz also applied for Dutch citizenship and was rejected three times. On his last attempt he even visited the minister of Justice in person, Mr. Angerer, but to no avail, his citizenship was denied again. 10

By then the Anschluss with Austria had taken place, Poland was invaded... Czechoslovakia fell, and on September 1, 1939 England declared war and World War II was a fact.

Acting in response to the declaration of war, Franz Koenigs made two major decisions. He gave Goudstikker the rights to conduct the negotiations with the Boymans Museum for the sale of the Old Master Drawings, and he actively opposed Hitler and Nazism.

On September 4, 1939, Goudstikker writes to Dr. Hannema "that he had been given the rights by Franz Koenigs to conduct negotiations for the Boymans Museum to purchase the Old Master Drawings. Though Koenigs reserves the right of the final decision to negotiate elsewhere, especially when the depreciation and inflation of the Dutch guilder might set in." 11 Koenigs must have foreseen difficulties. The bank Lisser & Rosenkranz had a claim laid on them by Dr. Neye of the Luftfahrt Ministry in Berlin of 2 million RM. Goering was the minister of the Luftfahrt Ministry. 12

Koenigs was known to be anti nazi; along with the fact that his son Ernst fought against Franco and had died; he had chosen Dutch citizenship above German, giving up his identity and ancestral lands; adding the fact that the collection was a security for a loan from a German Jewish Bank that owed 2 million RM to Goering, the Luftfahrt ministry, and he knew adding the transfer moratorium and the fact he was a Dutch citizen now that he couldn't use his assets within Germany... Europe was at war and the Netherlands were to be invaded at any time. By giving the rights to Goudstikker to negotiate for the sale of the collection to the Boymans Museum, Franz Koenigs was trying to save his collection from being taken by the Germans.

September 23, 1939 a few weeks later Franz Koenigs met with a spokesman of the English Government, he outlined the situation in Germany and gave full information on the developments. The report was sent to the Foreign Office in England, "we could use more reports from the same source" and the brief remark that "Koenigs is violently anti-regime." 13

Franz Koenigs is known to have given information before to Captain Plassche and Major Olifiers, the Dutch Military Service which later became the Dutch Intelligence but no reports were found of these meetings. 14

From September 1939, Goudstikker starts his efforts to sell the drawings. He meets several times with Mr. van Beuningen. Van Beuningen is a rich ship and coal merchant and industrialist living in Rotterdam (SHV). The commission Goudstikker would receive from Koenigs for the sale was settled on 220.000 NFL. A huge sum at the time, which would be welcome to Goudstikker as well as making him eager to sell the collection, as he was in need of cash in order to leave the country before the invasion of the Germans. But the negotiations as yet were leading nowhere. 15

The drawings were on offer at 2.200.000 guilders but do not include any of the French school. The 2.2 million guilders would be enough to distinguish the bank debt and leave some money over, and that sum was still considerably less than their cost and value, even in those difficult times. And remember, the Koenigs art was insured for 4.500.000 guilders.

Again Franz Koenigs meets early November 1939 with the Foreign Office in England. The report of the interview describes Franz Koenigs and his connections in Germany in what they call "the Koenigs Organization". He offers himself and his network to the Foreign Office (the Intelligence at that time). The conclusion of the report reads: "they are open to our influence and direction for counter revolutionary action to destroy National Socialism." 16

On a strong rumor that Germany is about to attack Holland on November 9, 1939, all military leaves are cancelled. About 40.000 military are to report to camp at once. On receiving this information the Minister of War ordered the flooding of 5000 acres of land at the Grebbe-Linie. The dykes were opened and Holland was in turmoil. In reaction Siegfried Kramarsky and his family leave on November 11, 1939 overnight for Lisbon because of what they think is an impending invasion.

Goudstikker writes letters again about the Koenigs collection but there were no immediate buyers in the Boymans-Hannema circle although Mr. D.G. van Beuningen had shown some interest. 17 Finally with the war's disruption and with Koenigs clearly under pressure from the Bank, Hannema and van Beuningen see their chance. They are biding their time like a cat with a mouse.

The Kramarsky family leaves Lisbon and arrive January 10, 1940 in New York. They took all the money they could from their holdings in the Netherlands to help with their new life as refugees, leaving the bank Lisser & Rosenkranz in the red. 18

On March 13, 1940 and March 21, 1940 Hannema, the director of the Boymans museum who had not yet lifted a finger to raise funds to purchase the Koenigs collection, writes to van Beuningen: "that Koenigs had phoned him today and in two weeks everything will be transported to Lisbon. In 1935 the collection was insured for 4.5 million it is now offered for 2.2 million even the French drawings are now included."19 But no sale occurred. The bank, of course, could not sell the drawings unless it could foreclose on them as security. It could not do so since the loan was not due until June 5, 1940.20

Apparently concessions had already been made. The price for the drawings was NFL 2.2 million, but at first it had not included the French drawings.
Obviously, the waiting served a purpose earlier described by Saemmy Rosenberg. Hannema was maneuvering to grab the collection for his friend van Beuningen and his museum.

On March 23, 1940 the bank Lisser & Rosenkranz publishes an announcement of the extraordinary meeting of shareholders to be held on April 2, 1940.

A surprising solution was devised by the Bank. If it could declare itself in liquidation the loan could be accelerated and then foreclosed. The security could then be either sent to North America or elsewhere and sold. Or the securtiy, after foreclosure, could be sold in Holland.

On April 2, 1940 by decision of the shareholders the bank Lisser & Rosenkranz declares itself into liquidation. No other reason for the liquidation is given than the impending invasion and fear of confiscation. It was mentioned in the liquidation minutes that Kramarsky, one of the directors, had already fled to Holland. The other Jewish commission members resigned. The reason given was accepted as valid and acknowledged by the Federal Banking Department and therefore the liquidation was allowed to take place. 21

The liquidation on April 2, 1940 a little more then one month before the German invasion, allowed the bank to claim control of Franz Koenigs renowned collection of 2144 Old Master Drawings. A great many of them being world famous master pieces, even though the five year term loan had 2 months to go.

Immediately after the "foreclosure," a frenzy of events occurred. The Bank and Dirk Hannema of the Boymans went into immediate negotiations. At the last minute Hannema offers on behalf of van Beuningen the inadequate and unfair sum of one million guilders for all of the paintings as well as all of the drawings. The Lisser & Rosenkranz bank then added all of the Koenigs paintings to the security and they were also taken over by the bank. The offer Hannema presented was far below the estimate and evaluation of the collection. The letters kept in the Boymans museum relating to this transaction show that the director Hannema, a Dutch official was well aware of the value of the Koenigs art. 22

This sad series of events was orchestrated by the Dutch offical, Mr. D.Hannema, director of the Boymans museum and later a Nazi official, Supervisor of the Dutch Museums and the Dutch Culture Council in the organization of the Reichscommissar SS OberstGruppenfuehrer Arthur Seyss-Inquart head of the Dutch Museums, was a prime moving principal. The art which had cost Franz Koenigs over 4.5 million NFL was largely sold against an impending invasion to van Beuningen, who was a close friend and associate to Hannema, for an inappropriate war related price of NFL 1,000,000.-. Paintings were added to the sale arbitrarily but no increase in price was made. Twelve Paintings were added, four by Hieronymus Bosch and 8 by P.P. Rubens.

Saemmy Rosenberg writes to Paul Sachs informing him what had happened in Rotterdam. Negotiations had gone on all the time but that they had cut out Paul Sachs, even though he had been the first to make an offer.

So van Beuningen bought all the drawings including the French group and 12 important paintings all for 1,000,000.- guilders. Apart from abusing the circumstances of the impending invasion they had also blocked other offers. When a bank liquidates they have to sell the securities in public, and surely try to get a fair price. The whole transaction was illegal and immoral.

Within a short period after Hannema and van Beuningen coup- less then 7 months later, van Beuningen sold a small part of the art, 526 drawings out of 2144 acquired for 1,400,000.- to Hitler with an extra NFL of 100,000.- going to van Beuningen's son-in-law by way of commission. This adds up to a 500,000 NFL of profit on the sale of only a small portion of the Koenigs art within 7 month of the deal worked out by Hannema and van Beuningen immediately preceding the Nazi invasion in Holland. 23
These are the group of drawings found here on Russian Federation Territory.

For a long time we did not know how voluntary and willing the sale by van Beuningen to Hitler was. After the war Hannema was interrogated at the Rotterdam Tribunal where he added words "by force" to the sale of the Koenigs drawings. 24

My grandfather had grown embittered. Franz Koenigs died on May 6, 1941. The conflicting stories about the circumstances of his death make it quite clear that he was most likely a victim of the Gestapo.

The death statement: Death under a train, the pelvis shattered and fractured. He died while carried off the platform. The briefcase which never left his side was never found... Time of death 17.15 hours, May 6, 1941. 25 The different recorded hours of death were pointed out as a typical nazi practice used to confuse witnesses.26 Some witnesses say he went into the train and then fell under... some say while he was about to leave the train he fell under... Or the train was being rearranged because there was an air-raid alarm early in the morning... He either fell, or was pushed under the train early in the morning yet the rail way police report reads time of death 17.15 hours.

It was unbearable for my father to discuss the different arguments and statements brought forward concerning his own fathers death. During war time it had been impossible for him to do anything because he was soon imprisoned himself. Just after the war, the chaos and occupation of the allied forces in Germany, the closed and inaccessible archives, the hierarchy of the world of officials and the ranks of art-historians and art-dealers closing in on the returning art from Germany, was too much to cope with. Through the restitution commission mr. Jhr. de Roell and van Beuningen, the diplomatic corps investigated the drawings in Russia.27 The diplomatic corps was investigating the " van Beuningen collection", which consisted of all of Franz Koenigs drawings which ended up in Russia. They focussed their attention on van Beuningen; after all Koenigs was dead, and no attention was paid to him or claims any of his heirs might have had. My grandmother filed a claim on 35 paintings on 22 September, 1946.28 She died 2 months later. Leaving five young children. The claim has still not been handled.

Recently documents were obtained from the Osoby Archive showing that in fact the son-in-law Lukas von Peterich had approached Prof.Dr. H.Posse to sell the drawings from the Koenigs collection. Max Friedlander had evaluated and looked at every drawing at the insistence of van Beuningen and the Germans. When the deal and the selection was nearly finished, Posse brought in his own people, G.C. Boerner and Herr Trautscholz a well known firm from Leipzig came over for two days to counter evaluate and help him make the final selection for Hitler.29 Max Friedlander received a Tiepolo drawing "the holy family" from the Koenigs collection as payment for his evaluation. 30

This sale was an absolute nightmare to Franz Koenigs, who had previously worked with Friedlander and Boerner in purchasing drawings from them. When the transaction between Lisser & Rosenkranz, Hannema and van Beuningen had taken place no such evaluation had been made.

The sale was settled on December 3, 1940. Posse writes in his diary "Dezember 3, 1940 Koenigs collection 1.4 zahlen vor 31 Dezember." 31

Van Beuningen dates his declaration of 1.400.000,- NFL to Hitler December 4, 1940. Posse writes to Martin Bormann on December 4, that van Beuningen demands payment before December 31 using the argument that the shifting and choosing of the drawings had taken far too long. Lammers, the Chief of Cabinet for Hitler payed the amount on December 14, 1940 to the Rotterdamse Bankvereniging. 32

Apart from the drawings sold to Posse, Hannema the Nazi Official and Boymans director of course still retained the greatest of the Koenigs art, including 1,600 Old Master Drawings and an extraordinary group of major paintings. Later that year Van Beuningen gave the rest of the Koenigs collection to the foundation of the Boymans Museum, though he kept 4 of the Rubens paintings and some of the greatest drawings for himself. If ever a collection and a collector were victims of the nazi created turmoil- this would seem to be the case.

Further more, in April 1940, 35 to 39 paintings continued to be claimed by Lisser & Rosenkranz even after the Hannema and van Beuningen transaction. These paintings had been transported to the Goudstikker firm in Amsterdam. Jacques Goudstikker "held the rights" to the Koenigs pictures for "the Kramarsky bank", as a telegram reads when count Anthony Seilern wanted to check the rights to three Rubens paintings from the Koenigs collection which he purchased on May 6 and 8, 1940. 33

Jacques Goudstikker left Holland May 14, 1940 on the day when the German invasion was settled. Both the firm of Goudstikker and the Lisser & Rosenkranz bank were taken over by Alois Miedl, a German Banker and close friend of Goering, but not before Goering was given the opportunity to have his pick of the Koenigs painting that remained.34 35

Leaving the 31 paintings in consignment with Goudstikker for the Lisser & Rosenkranz bank, 19 paintings were sold to Goering on his visit of May 15, 1940. Goering paid 650,000.- NFL this plus the previous transaction with van Beuningen and Hannema was more then meeting the total debt of 1.3 million and 4 % interest for the Lisser & Rosenkranz bank. The bank files show a note of the Luftfahrt Ministry in Berlin that the outstanding debt of Lisser & Rosenkranz of 2 million RM has been compensated with 650,000.- NFL. 36

We may assume that the early appearance of Goering at the Goudstikker firm and the 19 Koenigs paintings arriving at Goerings House at Carin Hall as early as June 10, 1940 had to do with the Currency Exchange Permit a credit of 2 million RM extended by the Luftfahrt Ministry for the Lisser & Rosenkranz Bank.37 The remaining twelve paintings were subsequently sold to Hitler and some remained in possession of Miedl.38 In 1943, when Goerings power faded Miedl took his assets and paintings and left for Spain.

The Russian Federation released the Federal law of 13 April 1998

This law has been in process for information for five years. On April 13, 1998 it seemed to have neared this process. President Boris Yeltsin brought the international agreements before the Constitutional Court.

On July 20, 1999 the Constitutional court came to a conclusion.

The verdict reads that cultural values belonging to former enemy states have lost their right of ownership, who were accordingly legitimately confiscated as a form of compensation from their territory and transported to the territory of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union in turn obtained the right to manage and use these cultural values. The Russian federation, in legal sense is the successor of the Soviet Union, obtained the right to the cultural values found on her territory. The relevant passages in the Federal law is judged by the Constitutional Court as not in conflict with the Russian Constitution.

In comment to the above, I studied the Inter-Allied Declaration Act39 , the early days after the war, the clash between the Americans and the Russians, where the Americans started transporting German art to the USA.40 The indignation of the English even writing personally to Roosevelt "how the German art could be used for compensation when the Americans were shipping away the most important Museum pieces." In return the Russians started to strip their part of the Occupied German Territory completely, whole factories and printing presses were dismantled and transported to the Soviet Union.41 In the mean time the American Press got hold of the news that German art was transported to the USA. Official reactions followed and the art was placed in the National Gallery in custody of the honorable Harlan Fiske Stone. The Daily Express and the New York Times wrote: "the transfer of 200 art master pieces from German museums to Washington's Gallery of Art. They are saying it puts the United States in almost the same position as Nazi looters. 8 FEB 1946"42 The result was "to trot those pictures back were they came from". 43

The Soviet Union handled the art treasures very differently. The art arriving in Moscow from the Russian Zone was handled as compensation and some art was and still is handled secretly. Upon arrival an exhibition was held in the Pushkin Museum but the Koenigs drawings were not shown. Then all of the displaced art was hidden until the Soviet Union collapsed and in 1989 after the story leaked in the Art News magazine through research by Alexey Rastorgureyev, Konstantin Akinsha and Gregory Kozlov, it was reluctantly admitted that the black boxes containing the Koenigs drawings were in the Pushkin Museum. It is clear that we can still say today, that it puts the Russian Federation in almost the same position as Nazi looters.

The ruling of the Constitutional Court on July 20, 1999 that the Soviet union obtained the right to manage and use these cultural values is not based on reality; in fact the art was not managed, but hidden. Even strong political out right denial of the very existence of displaced cultural works as a result of World WAR II was stated by the Soviet Union.

We can according to the above mentioned law claim the cultural values displaced and located on the Russian Federation Territory. However, lists of these cultural values and their locations are lacking. Some art today is known to be secretly hidden in various museums and libraries. For instance the famous Gutmann Rembrandt etchings, like the Gutmann library (a Jewish family from Vienna) are known to be at the Hermitage, though director Piotrovsky has neither mentioned the etchings, nor has he forwarded them on lists of Cultural possessions displaced from the Second World War.

On March 29 and 30, 1999 the Dutch Government sent a "Note Verbale" to the Russian Federation and to the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation claiming the Koenigs collection.

On July 28, 1999 I personally made a claim on the Koenigs collection, based on article 8 (3) and article 18 of the Federal law.

The Dutch Government in their "note verbale" of March 30, 1999 mentions itself as the rightful owner of the drawings of Koenigs.
I believe the Dutch Government should have presented my claim for the heirs of Franz Koenigs using article 18 provided by the Federal Law.

The fore-closure of the Bank Lisser & Rosenkranz could only have happened because of the war circumstances and the Nuremberg racist laws. The long term loan agreement Franz Koenigs had with the Lisser & Rosenkranz bank was not due for payment untill June 5, 1940. The sale to van Beuningen with the help of the Dutch Official Hannema was illegal and both were misusing the circumstances and buying the collection far under its value.


The collection of the Rothchilds was given back by Austria and the National Gallery.

The developments relating to Max Silberberg, a Jew whose possessions were confiscated, forcing him to sell his collection at auction with Graupe far below market value not allowing Max Silberberg to obtain a fair price for his art has been an example for others to follow. Austria, Germany, Israel and the United States have all given back Silberberg paintings in recent months.

France recently gave back a number of paintings belonging to Frederico Gentili di Giuseppe who died in 1941 while his family had fled to the USA. His collection of paintings was sold at auction in Paris. Due to the specific circumstances of the "forced sale" of 1941, these paintings were returned to the family of Frederico Gentili di Giuseppe.

Last month (February), the North Carolina Museum returned a Painting tied to Nazi Theft, "Madonna and Child in a landscape", by Lucas Cranach. In 1938 the painting was part of the collection of about 85 works owned by an Austrian Industrialist Phillip von Gomperz. When Austria was taken over by Hitler that year, Mr.Gomperz fled Vienna and left the art collection behind...

The triptych by Count Leopold von Kalkreuth was finally released to Marrietta Glanville (Gothilf) in England. The paintings had been abandoned in Austria when they fled the Nazi Anschluss. They were given in 1942 to the Munchen Pinakotheek who had refused all these years to give them back. Finally the painting was restituted last month.

I, Christine Koenigs, am still looking for help from the Dutch and Russian Governments but I must admit that I feel a sense of increasing frustration.

The Cabinet of President Yeltsin answered my claim on October 5, 1999 which was received on November 23, 1999. The Russian officials have suggested that an action should be brought in the Russian court. A similar response was received on December 7, 1999 from the ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.

The Dutch officials have not delved deeply into the situation, and to this day refuse to present the facts of this matter recently revealed by previously unknown material from Russian and American archives.

After the substantial help of people in the Russian Federation to learn more about this situation, I think I should make it clear that the Franz Koenigs drawings should not be a part of reparation for the terrible things Germany did to Russia and its people, but I believe that they should be restored to the heirs of another victim of Nazism. In the interest of Justice, and the interest of fairness, and in the interest of correcting the injustice brought on by the Nazis, Franz Koenigs and his heirs should prevail in this matter; the drawings should be returned to Franz Koenigs, and his heirs.

Thank you very much.

d.d. April 9, 2000

© Christine Koenigs


  1. 307 Old Master Drawings and two graphic works from the Koenigs collection are at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.
  2. 1 Old Master Drawing from the Koenigs collection is held by Smolensky, director of the Agro SBS Bank.
  3. 181 Franz Koenigs Old Master Drawings are most probably on the territory of the Russian Federation, exact location unknown.
  4. 33 Old Master German Drawings from the Koenigs Collection were returned by the Kupferstich-Kabinett in Dresden to the Netherlands in 1987. They are now in the custody of the Netherlands Culture Inspection and are on loan at the Museum Boymans van Beuningen.
  5. 4 Old Master Drawings fronm the Franz Koenigs collection were returned privately and are in custody of the Netherlands Cuture Inspection and are on loan at the Museum Boymans van Beuningen.
  6. "The Holy Family" drawing by Tiepolo, from the Koenigs Collection, the payment Max Friedlander received for his evaluation of the Hannema van Beuningen sale by van Beuningen is kept at the Wolfgang Ratjen Foundation in Munchen.
  7. The Old Master Drawings ( 1600?)and 8 Paintings from the Koenigs collection "as given" by Mr. D.G. van Beuningen to the Foundation of the Boymans van Beuningen Museum.
  8. The 4 Rubens paintings and a few Old Master Drawings "as sold" by D.G. van Beuningen in 1957 are at the Boymans van Beuningen Museum.
  9. "Gregor and Domitilla", "The Conversion of St. Paul" and "The Banquet of St. James" by Rubens are at the Courtauld Institute in London.
  10. "Village view" by J.B.C. Corot 34cm by 26.5 cm, location unknown. "the Seed of Cadmus" by Rubens is at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam received with the legacy of I. de Bruin-van der Leeuw, the painting was sold to I. de Bruin van der Leeuw on June 14, 1940, in Switzerland, Spiez, Soodmatte.
  11. "A Young Girl looking down at right" by Rubens. Private collection in Switzerland.
  12. "Michael Ophovius" by Rubens sold with the knowledge of the Dutch Government. Present Location unknown.
  13. "Burning Landscape" by Herrie met de Bles at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
  14. "River view" by Jan van Goyen given to P.H. Rahusen, employee at the Lisser & Rosenkranz Bank, as a form of payment. Present location unknown.
  15. "The quarry of Bibemus" by Cezanne at the Wolfgang Essen Museum in Germany.
  16. "Daubigny's Garden" by van Gogh at the Hiroshima Museum of Art in Japan
  17. "Dr. Gachet" by van Gogh, present location unknown.

1 Leopold von Kalckreuth, coming from a generation of painters, Stanislaus von Kalckreuth his father; Leopold was an impressionist painter. He founded the Weimar Kunst Academie. Same period as Hans Leibl.
2 Archive of the Dutch National Bank, Amsterdam, Rhodius-Koenigs/van Vloten en de Gijselaar files.
3 ARA The Hague National Archives naturalization files.
4 Memories of Jewish Amsterdam; Philo Bregstein and Salvador Bloemgarten; De Bezige Bij 1978; ISBN 9023406257;pg.270
5 Private Archive Family Koenigs. Franz Koenigs kept all of his purchases and letters filed in binders.
6 City Archive of Rotterdam, Museum Boymans van Beuningen correspondence of the director.
7 Archive Prudential England; The Dutch National Bank Archives, files Rhodius-Koenigs and van Vloten en de Gijselaar; Private archive Family Koenigs
8 Loan Agreement between Lisser & Rosenkranz and Franz Koenigs, archive W.O. Koenigs, Huizen, the Netherlands.
9 Harvard University the Fogg Art Museum; archive Paul Sachs; file collector Koenigs.
10 ARA National Archives the Hague; London Ruling Justice Dep.
11 City Archive Museum Boymans van Beuningen; correspondence with the director.
12 ARA National Archives the Hague; Files Flesche
13 Public Record Office London FO -371/230/2
14 Archive of the Dutch National Bank, Rhodius-Koenigs files
15 ARA National Archives the Hague; Goudstikker/Miedl files
16 Public Record Office London FO -371/13010
17 City Archive Amsterdam, Legacy of Desi von Saher widow of Goudstikker; Goudstikker files.
18 Archive of the Dutch National Bank; files Lisser & Rosenkranz Bank.
19 Museum Boymans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, with Bram Meij curator of the Drawing and Print Cabinet.
20 Archive of the Dutch National Bank files Lisser & Rosenkranz Newspaper clippings.
21 Amsterdam Notary Archive minutes of the extraordinary shareholder meeting April 2,1940; an English translation is found at the ARA archive in the Hague; London Ruling Justice Department. In 1941 the Lisser & Rosenkranz bank applied for a seat exchange to the Dutch Antilles.
22 Museum Boymans van Beuningen in Rotterdam in custody of Bram Meij curator of the Drawing and Print Cabinet.
23 Osoby Archive; State Military Archives of Russia Moscow; Dresdner Museum, the collection for Linz; replaced by the Pushkin Museum.
24 Archive Ministry of Justice The Hague POD File Hannema
25 Archive Ralph Gier, Cologne, Germany.
26 Testimony of Hans Brockhues 1995-1996
27 Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance SNK archives
28 Ministry of Finance SNK Archives now at ARA National Archives the Hague; Koenigs Collection.
29 Micro film of the Linz Archive- Reproduction of Monuments and Arts Section Restitution Files from the National Archives. Porperty Division HQ Omgus-HQ HILOG Reel I, DIII Reich Kanzlei Linz Museum ordered by Rasanow brought to Microfilm by Mr. Jahnson. Received by Ltd Smith.
30 Max Friedlander Sale Cat. Wolfgang Ratjen's story relating to the purchase of the drawing.
31 Museum Nuremberg; Notebook Prof. Dr. H.Posse
32 The National Archives in Washington Property Division HQ Omgus-HQ HILOG Microfilm from the Linz Archive
33 Courtauld Institute Archive Collection Count Antony Seilern 14 Telegrams concerning the Koenigs Collection
34 ARA National Archives the Hague; Miedl Files
35 ARA National Archives the Hague; SNK Files/ Koenigs Collection
36 ARA National Archives the Hague; Bank for West Europese Handel
37 ARA National Archives the Hague; SNK Files; Koenigs Collection/ from the Goering's papers; a receipt signed by Frau G. Limberger dated June 10, 1940 Listing the 19 Koenigs paintings.
38 National archives Washington/ARA National Archives The Hague/Interrogation reports OSS Goering.
39 Public Record Office London Inter-Allied Declaration Act 1943 FO 3221 W 13368 CT 1942
40 Public Record Office London FO 371/45770
41 Public Record Office London FO 1057/22 Pub. "Beautiful Loot" Book by Akinsha and Kozlov Random House ISBN 0-679-44389-4
42 Public Record Office FO 371/53104
43 Public Record Office FO 371/53104