Poland is a nation that identifies with its cultural creations, they are an inseparable part of what characterizes the nation. The majority of Polish artwork was stolen during the World War II by Germans and Russians.
70 years have passed since the end of the WWII and some of the stolen Polish properties are slowly returning to Poland. The goods that Poland is after are called Polish Wartime Losses, lost from public, private and church collections, from within the post-1945 borders of Poland, as a result of the Second World War.
In recent years, Germany has returned several stolen works of art to Poland. In 2014, the then German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, returned the painting “Palace Stairs” of the Venetian painter Francesco Guardi, stolen from the National Museum in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation. The canvas was in Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart. In 2015, the Bavarian authorities returned a medieval liturgical book – Pontifical Płocki, which had been looted by the Germans and stored in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. This, however is only a drop in the ocean and Polish authorities remain persistent in the quest to retrieve what was lost.
To help recognize the stolen art, The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage along with Communi Hereditate Foundation and The Kronenberg Foundation designed a mobile app ArtSherlock. This enables automatic recognition of paintings, drawings and fabrics lost from public, private and church collections in Poland during the second World War. The 516,000 pieces of looted works of art by Germans and Russians from Poland in the years 1939-1945 have an estimated value of 30 billion dollars. Around 43% of Polish cultural heritage was stolen or destroyed. It includes 2,800 paintings by European painters, 11,000 paintings by Polish painters, 1,400 sculptures, 75,000 manuscripts, 25,000 maps, 90,000 books.
The application ArtSherlock draws from the official registry of Polish cultural properties lost in the wake of World War II. The electronic database of Polish wartime losses is available via the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The app is available at www.artsherlock.pl