“It means so much to bring this back”: Czech state returns artworks to Jewish family

Photo: Ministry of Culture

After more than 80 years, the Czech state has returned art objects that belonged to the family of a wealthy Jewish businessman Johann Bloch, who lost his property during WWII. The four paintings and 10 liturgical vestments were returned to Bloch’s heirs as part of an effort to mitigate the wrongs of the Holocaust.

Johann Bloch was a Jewish entrepreneur who owned a leather processing and leather goods factory in Brno. He was also an art collector and amassed a large collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, textiles and antiques.

In 1939, his firm was seized by the Nazis and Johann Bloch and his wife decided to emigrate. In order to obtain permission to leave and export his art collection, he first had to deposit part of it in a designated public institution.

Despite doing so, Bloch did not get the permission to leave. He died in 1940 due to heart complications, while his wife Erna, as well as his brother and his wife, perished in concentration camps.

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Authors: Ruth Fraňková, Jan Dlouhý