Auction records 1935–42, Berlin
Auction records with lists of the auctioned objects and the names of the buyers, 1935–42, A Rep. 243–04 Nr. 46–63, 66–68, Landesarchiv Berlin
Reproductions of original documents, digital video projection, color, no sound, 720 min.
Digitalization of documents: Mik-Center GmbH, Berlin
Digital image editing: Martin Tony Häußler, Ben Mohai
Video editing and transcoding: Vincent Schwarzinger
Text by Martin Luchterhandt, Landesarchiv Berlin
Translation from German by Alicia Reuter
A Rep. 243-04
Berlin State Archive
In 1933, shortly after seizing power, the Nazis established a new governmental agency under the name “Reichskulturkammer” (Reich Chamber of Culture). Only members were permitted to work in the fields of art and culture; exclusion from the chamber meant a ban on employment. Thus, the Reichskulturkammer was the central instrument in the managing of the entire German cultural sector. One of the tasks of the agency was to monitor and control art auctions.
Auction houses were required to register their auctions at the Reichskulturkammer. The applications contained auction orders identified by name and lists of the objects up for auction. In some cases, “non-Aryan property” was marked separately on the lists. If Nazi agencies were interested in certain works or objects, they could intervene in the auction process or prohibit the auction. The auction protocols were obliged to document both the sales prices and buyers’ names.
In Berlin, there were more than twenty auction houses during the Nazi era, whose auction records from 1935 to 1942 have been preserved. As important documents of Jewish expropriation, after the war these made their way into the archives of the Oberfinanzdirektion Berlin (Berlin Regional Finance Office), which was responsible for restitution affairs—its predecessor, the Oberfinanzpräsident (Chief Financial President) Berlin-Brandenburg, was responsible for the expropriation of Jews who had emigrated or been deported. In spring 1989, the Oberfinanzdirektion turned these documents over to the Landesarchiv Berlin (Berlin State Archive), where they are archived and publicly accessible under call number A Rep. 243-04.
There were documents on the auctions of looted Jewish property across the entire territory of the German Reich but, according to current knowledge, they have only been preserved in Berlin. These documents are an important source for provenance research into the identification of works of art and their buyers. They show what items for daily use could be found in Jewish households in Berlin, including furniture, decorative art, and works of art, and how widely these possessions were looted, sold, and squandered.