Kurt Walter Bachstitz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Portrait of Kurt Walter Bachstitz by Arnold Genthe, 1923.

Kurt Walter Bachstitz (4 October 1882 – 1949 in The Hague) was a German-Austrian art dealer. He died shortly before his naturalization to the Netherlands.[1][2]

General Information[edit]

Until Emigration 1938[edit]

Bachstitz was born as the child of the Jewish couple Liber Jacob Bachstitz and Mathilde Markowitz. His place of birth is arguable. All contemporary sources mention the formerly German Breslau (the present-day Polish Wrocław) as his place of birth.[3] But Bachstitz requested for himself the Austrian village Raipoltenbach as his place of birth when he claimed at the U.S. Department of Labor for an extension of his temporary stay in 1931.[1] He studied architecture in Paris, London and Vienna where he finished his studies with a diploma. On the outbreak of the First World War he was called up for military service and served between 1914 and 1918 as an officer, lastly in the rank of a troop captain. He served actively in the field until 1916, when he was severely wounded.[4] He married Elfriede Pesé (died in 1918) with whom he had two children – a son Walter Werner Michael who died in 1943 by tuberculosis in Switzerland and a daughter, Margit Martha[5] who died in South Africa in 1982. On 19 December 1918 he married his second wife Elisa ("Lilly") Emma Hofer. Lilly was a Protestant. Because of her Bachstitz converted to the evangelic faith.[6] In 1919 he apparently lived and traded in Munich. In his diary Thomas Mann wrote about a meeting in Bachstitz' Munich apartment, where Mann bought a work from Bachstitz. He described him quite prerogatively as a "blond-Jewish" example of an "international culture-capitalistic profiteer".[7] In 1920 he established an art dealership in the Hague named Kunsthandel K.W. Bachstitz (Bachstitz Gallery N.V.). Surinamestraat 11, He lived in Vienna and in Berlin and he created an internationally known company with art galleries in The Hague, New York City and Berlin. Lilly was the sister of art dealer Walter Andreas Hofer who had managed the Gallery in The Hague for a while and subsequently became an art buyer for Hermann Göring.

In 1937 Bachstitz waived his Austrian citizenship. In 1938 the couple moved to The Hague.[1]

World War II[edit]

Between the beginning of the German occupation in 1940 and 1941 Bachstitz sold a number of paintings to the "Sondernauftrag Linz" that was run by Hitler's Special Representative of the planned 'Führermuseum' in Linz,[8] Hans Posse[9] until his death in 1942.

Among the works sold to the Sonderauftrag were the following:

The correspondence between Bachstitz and Posse concerning these works is preserved. Posse achieved high price reductions.[10]

In February 1941 Bachstitz officially resigned as supervisory director of the Bachstitz Gallery and his wife became the managing director. Together with his wife, he continued to provide a clandestine management role. In this way, they avoided having the Gallery placed under the forced administration for the duration of the war. According to the documents in the file concerning his successful application to become a Dutchman after the war[11] the couple provided undercover protection for Jews trying to escape the authorities.

In 1942 Bachstitz was summoned by the occupation authority (the "Wirtschaftsamt") as he had failed to register the gallery as "non-Aryan property". Proceedings were commenced against him and he was arrested by the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) in July 1943 and imprisoned in the Scheveningen prison in The Hague. Due to an intervention of Göring initiated by Bachstitz' brother-in-law Hofer, he was released from prison. He was then also exempted from wearing the Star of David. Furthermore, the couple had their marriage dissolved in September 1943 to prevent the confiscation of the gallery by the occupying authority.

Between 1942 und 1944 Bachstitz sold a number of works to the museums that were run by Kurt Martin, the head of the Museums of the Upper Rhine (Alsace and Baden) under Robert Heinrich Wagner.[12]

In 1944 Bachstitz managed to obtain permission to leave the Netherlands and he emigrated to Switzerland, again with the help of Andreas Hofer.[1][13]

As a bribe for the exit visa Bachstitz had to hand over art to Hermann Göring, namely a painting with the Samson and Delilah motive by Jan Steen,[14] as well two antique necklaces.[15]

After The War - Successful and Unsuccessful Restitution Efforts[edit]

After the war the Allies returned most of the art that the gallery had sold to German authorities to the Netherlands. The Netherlands restituted the painting by Jan Steen[16] but rejected an application for the restitution of the other works. They became part of the Collection of the Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit (SNK). Kurt Walter Bachsitz and Lilly Bachstitz-Hofer were again registered as officially married. Kurt Walter Bachstitz died in 1949. In 1951 his widow liquidated the Bachstitz Gallery N.V. with a high deficit.[17] The gallery's art library was auctioned off.[18]

In 2009 the Dutch government restituted the painting "Roman Capriccio" by Pietro Capelli from the stock of the SNK to Kurt Walter Bachstitz' grandchildren.[1][19] The Restitution Committee of the Netherlands denied though a restitution claim concerning a number of other works, among them the works sold to Hitler (Sonderauftrag Linz). In view of most of these works the Committee argued that these sales had not been made under duress because Kurt Walter Bachstitz had been left "undisturbed" in 1940 and 1941.[1][20] The grandchildren applied in 2013 for the re-opening of the case in this regard.[21]

In July 2013 the Prussian Heritage Foundation restituted a Tyrolean gothic wall-mounted writing slate (c. 1500) and a large 16th-century Italian bronze mortar.[22] Kurt Walter Bachstitz' grandchildren are still searching for many works of art that were lost due to National-Socialist persecution[23][24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Bachstitz, Inc. records, 1923-1937" (PDF). The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  2. ^ "Bachstitz, Restitution Commission of the Netherlands, Az RC 1.78, Consideration No.2". Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  3. ^ NA, Ministry of Justice, naturalization files, access code 2.09.22, inv. no. 13533, no. 2189; Central Bureau for Genealogy, The Hague, Calmery archive, Bachstitz file
  4. ^ NA, Ministry of Justice, naturalization files, access code 2.09.22, inv. no. 13533, no. 2189
  5. ^ File RC 1.78, estate inventory (via Ministry of Finance, inheritance tax returns)
  6. ^ NA, SNK 178, Bachstitz file, draft letter from Bogisch to Weyma, undated
  7. ^ Thomas Mann Tagebücher, 1918–1921, herausgegeben von Peter de Mendelssohn, Frankfurt/M. 1979, ISBN 978-3-10-048192-4, S. 143 – 145 '"Der Mensch, blond-jüdisch und elegant, Mitte dreißig, mit Monokel und fetten, weißen, manikürten Händen, in gesteppter Hausjacke und Lackhausschuhen, wunderbar als Typus des international-kultur-kapitalistischen Schiebertums."
  8. ^ Looted Art Commission. [1]"Munich's Looted Art Bazaar Sueddeutsche Zeitung 25 June 2016, 25 June 2016 Von Catrin Lorch und Jörg Häntzschelz"
  9. ^ "Prologue: Selected Articles". archives.gov. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  10. ^ Wikisource: Korrespondenz Bachstitz Juli 1940 Wikicommons
  11. ^ NL-NA, ministerie van justitie (1915–1955), inv. No. 13533 (1646)
  12. ^ 10 Search Requests at www.lostart.de, latest view June 11, 2015
  13. ^ "Bachstitz, Restitution Commission of the Netherlands, Az RC 1.78, Consideration No.6". Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  14. ^ US-NARA, RG 260, M1946. Roll 127. Restitution Research Records. Göring, Hermann: Notes on Purchases. Page 65.
  15. ^ "Post-War Reports: Art Looting Intelligence Unit (ALIU) Reports 1945-1946 and ALIU Red Flag Names List and Index". lootedart.com. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  16. ^ NL-NA, Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit (SNK), 2.08.42.
  17. ^ NL-NA 2.09.16, Nederlands Beheers Instituut NBI, inv.no. 2168, Note Kesselaar NBI 16 December 1955.
  18. ^ "Art library of the late K.W. Bachstitz (Bachstitz Galleries), The Hague. : Internationaal Antiquariaat (Menno Hertzberger) : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". archive.org. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  19. ^ "Bachstitz, Restitution Commission of the Netherlands, Az RC 1.78, Consideration No.18". Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  20. ^ "Bachstitz, Restitution Commission of the Netherlands, Az RC 1.78, Consideration No.5". Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  21. ^ Act RC 4.138
  22. ^ "Berliner Kunstgewerbemuseum restituiert zwei Werke an die Erben des Kunsthändlers Bachstitz - Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz". preussischer-kulturbesitz.de. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  23. ^ "Lost Art Internet Database - Einfache Suche". Retrieved 2015-06-11. [dead link]
  24. ^ 48 Search Requests at www.lostart.de, latest view June 11, 2015

External links[edit]

  1. "Bachstitz | Restitutiecommissie". restitutiecommissie.nl. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  2. "Bachstitz, Inc. records, 1923-1937" (PDF). The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives,. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  3. "Bachstitz-Erben erhalten Raubkunst zurück". art-magazin.de. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  4. "Berliner Kunstgewerbemuseum restituiert zwei Werke an die Erben des Kunsthändlers Bachstitz - Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz". preussischer-kulturbesitz.de. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  5. "Art library of the late K.W. Bachstitz (Bachstitz Galleries), The Hague. : Internationaal Antiquariaat (Menno Hertzberger) : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". archive.org. Retrieved 2015-06-11.