The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Friday confirmed Peter Sachs, 74, was the rightful owner of the posters collected by his father Hans over 7 decades ago. The court ruled that the German Historical Museum, must surrender them to Hans Sachs son Peter. The court stated that if the museum retained the posters it would be perpetuating the crimes of the Nazis.
Peter Sachs, who recently moved to Nevada from Sarasota, Florida, told The Associated Press in an email, “I can't describe what this means to me on a personal level. It feels like vindication for my father, a final recognition of the life he lost and never got back.”
This culminates seven years of legal battles over a massive collection dating back to the late 19th century that is now estimated to be worth between 4.5 and 16 million euro.
The posters were seized from Hans Sachs' home in 1938 on the orders of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, who desired them for a museum of his own. The posters were amassed by Sachs, then they were stolen from him by the Nazis' Gestapo, thus becoming the possession of communist East Germany for decades, they were then moved to the Berlin museum after Germany's reunification in 1990. This wild trip through the years brought the case under the authority of The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe.
Hagen Philipp Wolf, spokesman for Germany's cultural affairs office, which oversees the public German Historical Museum, said the decision would be respected. “The Federal Court of Justice has decided, we have a clear ruling, the German Historical Museum must return the Sachs posters.”
A total of 4,259 posters of 12,500 have been identified so far as having belonged to Sachs' father. They were among a collection, which include advertisements for exhibitions, cabarets, movies and consumer products, as well as political propaganda all are rare, with only small original print runs. The location of the remaining items from the collection is unknown at this time.
Sachs' lawyer in Germany, Matthias Druba, said “Hans Sachs wanted to show the poster art to the public, so the objective now is to find a depository for the posters in museums where they can really be seen and not hidden away.”
Hans Sachs was arrested during the November 9, 1938, pogrom against the Jews known as t Kristallnacht and thrown in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp north of Berlin. He was released about two weeks later, he and the family immediately fled to the United States.