On December 3, 1998 the “Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art” were endorsed by 44 governments including Austria. The goals of these principles are to identify Nazi-looted art, to find their owners or heirs, and to achieve fair and just solutions in the restitution of Nazi-looted objects.  

The basis of provenance research in Austria is a national law of 1998, the Bundesgesetz über die Rückgabe von Kunstgegenständen vom 4. Dezember 1998 (BGBl. I, 181/1998). It legally obliges national museums and collections to search their inventories for Nazi-looted objects and to restitute these if possible.  

The University Library of Salzburg is not a national institution and as such not bound to the national restitution law. However, it decided in 2009 to explore its history from 1933 to 1938, to examine its inventory for Nazi-looted books, and to return these to their rightful owners.  

As an act of remembrance, the restituted objects shall not be removed from the library catalogues but shall be permanently labeled there as Nazi-looted items. These “virtual memorials” inform the library users about the injustice done.

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