Catalogue description Detailed Interrogation Report No 4 on art dealer Gustav Rochlitz divided into seven...

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Details of T 209/29/3
Reference: T 209/29/3

Detailed Interrogation Report No 4 on art dealer Gustav Rochlitz divided into seven sections, dated 15 August 1945. Part I includes an overview of Rochlitz's family and life in Germany and France until and during the Second World War. Active since 1925 he went into business with several Swiss galleries and between 1924 and 1930 ran his own gallery in Berlin. 'Shortly afterwards he opened the Muralto Gallery in Zurich, operating this enterprise for a Swiss banker named Guhl. In 1932 the Swiss authorities, in view of his German citizenship, refused to allow Rochlitz to conduct a formal business establishment in Switzerland.' Rochlitz stated that 'he believed that the art dealer Fischer, of Lucerne, had persuaded the Swiss government to order him out of business as "unfair competition". In 1933 he went to live in Paris. Rochlitz stated that he went into business for himself in Paris in the same year, incorporating his firm under the name of Gustav Rochlitz, and using, purely for formal purposes of incorporation, the name of his bookkeeper, Paul Weil. Weil received 2-3 per cent of the net profits of the firm annually from 1933 to 1940, when, according to Rochlitz, he disappeared completely. Rochlitz [...] believed that Weil, being a Jew, had gone to the country to hide'. Interned shortly after the declaration of war as German, he was released after a few weeks 'because of his daughter's French citizenship' and then interned again in April 1940. He was freed 'by the NSDAP Auslands Organization' after the fall of France and his German citizenship re-established, 'but only from month to month, since both he and his wife had made formal application for French naturalisation papers. [...] When Rochlitz was interned, he placed some of his pictures in safekeeping in a bank vault and the remainder in his house in the rue de Rivoli'. Part II provides a detailed account of Rochlitz's sales to German officials and art dealers. States that 'after a relatively short period of inactivity, Rochlitz began to sell extensively to Germans. [...] He stated he had no desire to do so, because he was a strong anti-Nazi, hoped to become a French citizen, and therefore did not wish to jeopardise his future by collaborationist undertakings [note: this statement is refused by all other cognizant informants]'. His main clients included Haberstock, who according to Rochlitz was always accompanied by Dr Posse as his 'constant companion-adviser', Frau Dietrich and Dr Rademacher. 'In March 1944, Rochlitz was given a certificate by Dr Hermann Voss, Director of the Fuehrermuseum, Linz, indicating that he had sold paintings [to German officials] which were destined for the Hitler museum', hoping that 'it would enable him to avoid active military service'. Includes a list of 29 works of art sold to Haberstock, Dr Gurlitt, Dr Rademacher for the Bonn Museum, Frau Marie Almas-Dietrich and Dr Bruno Lohse with dates and value of the transactions. Part III describes in details Rochlitz's transactions with the ERR through Dr Lohse, who visited him in Paris in early 1941 and asked him 'whether he had any outstanding pictures which he would be willing to offer for sale to Goering'. Includes a detailed list of the business transactions involving confiscated paintings received from the ERR, with details of the exchanges and their disposition, and a list of 31 paintings, mostly by Matisse but also Braque, Picasso, Sisley, Gaugin and Renoir, confiscated by the ERR and sold by Rochlitz to Isidor Rosner, Petrides, Klein, Madame Levy [all in Paris] and Hans Wendland in Lucerne. Part IV provides a list of the present locations of the ERR paintings still in Rochlitz's possession, scattered among the following places: Rochlitz's house in Hohenschwangau near Fuessen, where 22 paintings by several prominent painters including Sisley, Cezanne, Manet, Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Renoir were kept; Otto Kastner's house in Aufhofen, Post Egling, where three paintings by de Chirico, Leger and Utrillo were kept; Schloss Adolfsburg, Oberhunden, where Cezanne's 'Doleur' was kept; Muehlhofen on the Lake Constance, where six more paintings by Boudin, Monet, Sisley, Utrillo, Renoir and Pissarro were kept, and Schaffer and Co warehouse in Freiburg, where Rochlitz's personal library was kept. States that 'of the 82 paintings which [Rochlitz] received from the Einsatzstab, he sold 31 and retains 32. The remaining 19 he believes to be missing'. Part V provides details of 18 of the missing paintings among those received by Rochlitz from the ERR. The reasons for their loss were two: 14 paintings - including Pissarro's 'Farmers on a Country road', Gaugin's 'Crucifixion', Cezanne's 'Flower piece', Manet's 'The studio', Matisse's 'Struggle of centaurs', 'View through the window', 'Seated girl', 'Still life', 'Woman with a turban', 'Woman in Turkish dress', 'Woman with a lute' and 'Still life with Tankard', Utrillo's 'Rue Froideveaux' and Modigliani's 'Portrait of a woman' - had been lost in transport from Paris to Baden-Baden in June 1944, according to Rochlitz because 'the German business manager of the firm, whose name he remembers as Corinth [...], had been arrested by the German authorities for illegal transactions in goods consigned to him for shipment to Germany'. In the case of the other four paintings including Picasso's 'Women at the races', Renoir's 'Reclining woman' and 'head of a child' and Pissarro's 'View of Paris', these had been rolled together with clothes in one case which had been 'broken open - and most of the contents removed - by the American occupying forces at Buching [near Hohenschwangau] at the end of April 1945', apparently 'in the course of a weapon hunt'. Eight paintings were in the case, four of which had been recovered by Rochlitz. Part VI provides a summary of the case stating that 'Rochlitz, perhaps more than any other individual, sought and derived personal and material gain from the depredations of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg. [...] At no time has he claimed ignorance of the fact that the 82 paintings which he received from the Einsatzstab were works confiscated from French Jewish collections. [...] He entered willingly, indeed eagerly, into transactions with the Einsatzstab, for three basic reasons: 1. to make spectacular profits; 2. to establish a position in German art circles; 3. to avoid military service. [...]Politically, Rochlitz has no genuine convictions. He appears to have acted at all times in his own interest as an unscrupulous opportunist'. Part VII recommends Rochlitz 'be placed at the disposition of the French authorities' as he 'committed crimes against France [...] through his leading part in the German looting of French-owned works of art. [...] Viewed in terms of the art world, he must be regarded as having played a prominent German fifth-columnist role in France'.

Note: This document forms part of the Looted Art Collection; records selection and descriptions reproduced by the kind permission of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe.
Date: 1945
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

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