Austrian Minister for Arts and Culture Josef Ostermayerand the soon to be restored drawings. (AP/Ronald Zak) (AP/Ronald Zak)
Egon Schiele stolen art

Over seven decades after they were stolen by the Nazis during the Holocaust, two drawings by Austrian artist Egon Schiele will be returned to their rightful Jewish owners.  

A Vienna museum has agreed to give up two of five drawings by Austrian artist Egon Schiele that were at the center of a dispute over Nazi-looted art.

Culture Minister Josef Ostermayer says the Leopold Museum and Jewish Community in Vienna reached what he called a “Solomonic solution” that will see the drawings returned to the heiress of Jewish businessman Karl Maylaender, who died in the Holocaust.

The exact circumstances under which Maylaender gave up the paintings before his deportation by the Nazis in 1941 are disputed.

Jewish community representative Erika Jakubovits says the heiress, Eva Zirker of New York, refused to sell the drawings “Seated boy with folded hands” and “Self-portrait with red hair and striped oversleeves” to the museum.

The three other drawings are staying in the museum.

The Nazis organized looting of European countries during the time of the Third Reich . Plundering occurred from 1933 until the end of World War II, particularly by military units known as the Kunstschutz.

In addition to gold, silver and currency, cultural items of great significance were stolen, including paintings, ceramics, books, and religious treasures.

There is an international effort under way to identify Nazi plunder that still remains unaccounted for, with the aim of ultimately returning the items to the rightful owners, their families or their respective countries.

Many Jewish families have fought and are fighting to reclaim the ownership over the family heirlooms, which are currently held by museums and other institutions around the world.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff