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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 13:34 GMT
Hitler art stays in US Army hands
Adolf Hitler
Hitler produced 3,400 paintings and drawings
The US Army is entitled to keep four watercolours painted by Adolf Hitler, despite a legal challenge by a German family, the Supreme Court has ruled.

US forces discovered the paintings in a German castle in 1945, where they had been stored by the late German photographer Heinrich Hoffmann.

His heirs have waged a 20-year legal battle in an effort to get them back.

Now the Supreme Court has said the paintings legally belong to the US, endorsing a ruling by a lower court.

The four watercolours are among 3,400 paintings and drawings produced by Hitler between 1909 and 1945, when he committed suicide in a Berlin bunker in the final days of World War II.

Hitler gave one of the paintings to Hoffmann as a present for his 50th birthday in 1936. Hoffman bought the other three in the 1930s and early 1940s.


The army seized the paintings in the belief that they were German government property and later transferred them to a warehouse in Alexandria, Virginia, where they have been kept in storage ever since.

Hoffmann's family insisted he was a victim of wartime pillaging. The US government, for its part, said the paintings were Nazi art confiscated to "de-Nazify Germany".

Washington also argued that it owned the paintings under the terms of the treaty that the US signed with Germany after the war ended.

Hoffmann was found guilty at the post-war Nuremberg trials of war profiteering.

The government has been embroiled in a court battle with Hoffmann's relatives for nearly 20 years.

Texas art investor Billy F Price, who bought rights to the works, has also been involved in the dispute.

In 2002, the Supreme Court refused to hear an earlier appeal by the Hoffmann family against a lower court decision in the US government's favour.

But a technical issue brought the case back before the justices - and in Monday's hearing, the court rejected the family's latest challenge.

Peer intervenes in Nazi art row
11 Aug 03 |  Entertainment

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