Heinrich Morgenstern

Heinrich Morgenstern, a prominent businessman and resident of Fürth, Germany, was a passionate collector of art and owned a well known and significant collection of paintings, Dürer engravings, and Persian rugs. During the summer of 1938, D. Morgenstern Zinnfolien und Stanniole Fabrik, the company Mr. Morgenstern co-owned with his brother and that was established by his great-uncle in the early 19th century was Aryanized, i.e., expropriated and transferred to non-Jewish ownership. As a result Mr. Morgenstern and his two sons, Kurt and Werner Morgenstern, who all derived their livelihood from the family business, lacked a source of income and the funds needed to flee Nazi Germany.

Following the seizure of the Morgensterns’ company and immediately after the 1938 November Pogrom, Mr. Morgenstern’s eldest son, Kurt, was arrested and interned at Dachau Concentration Camp.  It was this persecution that forced Mr. Morgenstern to sell 224 pieces from his art collection at Rudolph Lepke's Kunst-Auctions-Haus in the so-called "Gemälde Neuerer Meister aus Süddeutschem und Schweizerischem Sammlerbesitz" auction of November 22, 1938.  

Mr. Morgenstern passed away on September 5, 1944. Immediately after the war Mr. Morgenstern’s younger son, Werner, took up the quest for the recovery of the collection. In June 1945, Werner began the process of formally claiming his father’s collection with the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section of the Office of Military Government for Germany, US (OMGUS). On September 11, 1946, he submitted a request to the Office of Military Government for Bavaria for the immediate search of Morgenstern artworks, including the Painting.

Photo of Heinrich Morgenstern
Photo of Heinrich Morgenstern with signatures

As a result of the OMGUS claim only a few paintings from the collection were recovered; therefore, the Morgenstern heirs submitted a claim to the German government for the restitution of lost property under the Bundesrückerstattungsgesetz (BRüG). The government found in favor of the heirs and in addition to a financial award, the settlement notes that the heirs are entitled to recover any lost works of art if located.

Recovered Works from the Morgenstern Collection