AP Interview: Posters seized by Nazis being sold
After the war, Hans Sachs assumed the collection had been destroyed and accepted compensation of about 225,000 German marks (then worth about $50,000) from West Germany in 1961.
He learned five years later, however, that part of the collection had survived the war and been turned over to an East Berlin museum. It’s not known what happened to the other posters.
Sachs wrote the communist authorities about seeing the posters or even bringing an exhibit to the West to no avail. He died in 1974 without ever seeing them again.
The posters became part of the German Historical Museum’s collection in 1990, after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.
Peter Sachs only learned of the existence of the collection in 2005, and began fighting then for their return.
Legal battles went all the way to Germany’s top federal appeals court, which ruled last March in favor of Sachs, saying that if the museum kept the posters it would be akin to perpetuating the crimes of the Nazis.
Since being returned the posters Sachs has repaid the 1961 restitution payment, and said he was relieved that the ordeal was now over.
‘‘I don’t really feel a sense of victory as much as I do of vindication,’’ he said. ‘‘I think it’s absurd that this should have occurred in the first place; I think the museum simply should have relinquished them in the beginning on moral grounds.’’