France on Monday returned three paintings by the Flemish master Joachim Patinir to the descendants of a Jewish family who were forced to sell them as they fled the Nazis.

The Bromberg family left Germany for Paris in late 1938 and the following year were forced to sell the 16th-century “Triptych of the Crucifixion” depicting Christ on the cross, along with several other paintings so they could get to the United States via Switzerland.

The paintings were formally handed over to Henrietta Schubert and Chris Bromberg, descendants of Herta and Henry Bromberg, at the Louvre Museum by French Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen.

The Patinir paintings had languished for nearly seven decades unclaimed in the French state collections after they were recovered in Munich after World War II.

The triptych had been bought at a knock-down price after the German occupation of Paris and was destined for Hitler’s Fuhrermuseum in his home town of Linz in Austria, where he wanted to build “the ideal museum”.

More than 30 looted paintings have been put on display at the Louvre since December to raise public awareness of the issue.

It is thought that up to 100,000 works of art, and millions of books, were stolen from French Jews or Jews who had fled to France before the German occupation.