The creation of a commission for historically burdened cultural heritage is a crucial step in dealing with cultural assets related to National Socialism in Switzerland. The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) has supported the proposal and welcomes its implementation by the Federal Government.
Last week, the Federal Council decided to establish an independent expert commission for historically burdened cultural heritage and adopted a corresponding ordinance for it. By establishing such a commission, the Federal Council is implementing a parliamentary mandate. The body will have an advisory role and provide recommendations. According to the Federal Council, the creation of the commission emphasizes the importance it attaches to the legally and ethically responsible handling of cultural heritage, especially regarding Nazi-looted art and cultural assets with colonial context.
The Federal Council aims to transparently address burdened artifacts from the past and implement fair and just solutions, as required by the Washington Principles of 1998 and the Terezin Declaration of 2009. With the independent expert commission, the Federal Council establishes a body that can provide advice in disputed cases and, in individual cases, make non-binding recommendations. Similar bodies already exist in Austria, France, and the Netherlands.
The SIG welcomes the establishment of the independent commission and recognizes the importance of this step and emphasizes the independence of the commission, which must be ensured. It is encouraging that the sometimes challenging discussions and positions of recent years have led to a change in thinking. This current political decision will enable a new approach to historically burdened cultural property in Swiss possession and a changed perspective in the future.