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From 1951 on, the depository management office had the power of control over the deposit boxes and safes or depositories of closed-down Berlin banks. This department within the GDR Ministry of Finance thus had access to “ownerless” property as well as to Jewish assets that were then sold or turned over to museums and cultural institutions. The study also looks into the exploitation of expropriated objects resulting from the land reform, from assets left behind by people who had left the GDR, and from objects that had been confiscated.

Objects of this provenance were also found in the collection of the central East German Museum für Deutsche Geschichte (MfDG). With the reunification of Germany in 1990, the collections of the MfDG were transferred to the Deutsches Historisches Museum and are now part of the stocks of our house.

The research project is a fundamental part of the thorough study of the provenance of art, cultural goods, and articles of great value that were transferred to the museums of the GDR and particularly to the MfDG by the depository management office. In this context, fundamental questions of provenance research are touched on. This is particularly relevant to further research in the area of Nazi persecution and the lootings of cultural goods as well as further expropriation contexts in the GDR.