De Haan

Recommendation regarding De Haan

Recommendation number: 
1.106
Type: 
NK collection
Publishing date: 
13 October 2011
Period loss of possession: 
1940-1945
Private owner/art dealer: 
Art dealership
Location of loss: 
The Netherlands

In letters dated 29 October 2008, 13 November 2009, 27 January 2010 and 24 November 2010, the Minister for Education, Culture and Science requested the Restitutions Committee (hereafter referred to as: the Committee) to issue a recommendation regarding the applications dated 12 December 2007, 8 September 2009 and 21 September 2010 by I.I. S.-T. (hereafter referred to as: the applicant) for the restitution of various works of art in the Netherlands Art Property Collection (hereafter referred to as: NK collection) and administered by the State of the Netherlands. These are objects sold by or through Jewish art dealer Simon de Haan during the occupation of the Netherlands and returned to the Netherlands from Germany after the Second World War.

The recommendation concerns the following fourteen works:
NK 1537 – B.G. Cuyp, Card players
NK 1557 – H.M. Sorgh, Hearing, personified by a singing couple
NK 1559 – H.M. Sorgh, Taste, personified by a singing couple[1]
NK 1597 – Ph. Wouwerman, Landscape with two men on horseback
NK 1667 – Follower of L. Cranach, Madonna and child
NK 1704 – Ph. Wouwerman, Italian river landscape with a hunting party
NK 1760 – W. Verschuur I, A horsefair
NK 1914 – Circle of S.J. van Ruysdael, River view with fishing boats
NK 2245 – S.J. van Ruysdael, Winter landscape with skaters by a town
NK 2264 – A. Bloemaert, The triumph of Neptune
NK 2824 – Master of 1518, The Adoration of the Magi
NK 2835 – J.G.C. Coclers, Still life with flowers in a vase
NK 2866 – Atelier van A. van Utrecht, Still life with dead game
NK 2882 – In the style of A. van der Neer, Village along a river

THE PROCEDURE

The reason for applying for restitution was a visit that the applicant paid to the exhibition Geroofd, maar van wie? (‘Stolen, but from whom?’) in 2007. After contact between the applicant and the Origins Unknown Agency (Bureau Herkomst Gezocht, hereafter referred to as: BHG), the applicant submitted a request for the restitution of nineteen artworks from the NK collection on 12 December 2007. In letters dated 8 September 2009 and 21 September 2010, the applicant submitted two further applications for a total of four works in the NK collection. In letters dated 29 October 2008, 13 November 2009, 27 January 2010 and 24 November 2010, the Minister and the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science presented the applications for restitution to the Committee for advice. The Committee combined these applications into the current case file RC 1.106.
Following this application for restitution, the Committee instigated a fact-finding investigation, the results of which were included in a draft investigatory report dated 19 January 2011. This draft report was sent to the applicant and the State Secretary in letters dated 7 February 2011.
On 7 March 2011, the applicant and her legal advisor, R.W. Polak, had a meeting with a delegation of the Committee. The applicant then responded to the draft report on 4 April 2011 and also stated that she would withdraw her claim to nine artworks.
In response to the draft report on 8 March 2011, the State Secretary advised that he did not have any additional information he wanted the Committee to consider. Following the applicant’s response and her withdrawal of the claim to nine artworks, a revised version of the draft report was prepared, in which the results of the Committee’s supplementary investigation were also incorporated. The revised version of the draft report was sent to the applicant for her information on 11 July 2011, to which she responded in a letter dated 26 August 2011. Her reaction has been appended to the final investigatory report. The investigatory report was subsequently adopted on 19 September 2011. For the facts of the case, the Committee refers to the investigatory report. The claimed work NK 2824 is also part of an application for restitution regarding Katz (RC 1.90-B), which is currently pending. Referring to considerations 7 to 13, the Committee sees no reason to defer its recommendation in the current case until RC 1.90-B is being dealt with.

CONSIDERATIONS

  1. As evidenced by a certificate of inheritance issued on 1 September 2010 in the presence of M.R. Meijer, civil-law notary in Amsterdam, the applicant is the sole heir of her uncle, Simon de Haan. According to the applicant, the fourteen objects she is claiming were sold involuntarily by Jewish art dealer Simon de Haan during the Second World War as a result of circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime.

  2. The relevant facts are included in the investigatory report of 19 September 2011. The following is a summary. Simon de Haan (hereafter referred to as: De Haan) was born on 6 June 1901 in Amsterdam as son of Salomon de Haan and Abigaël Buitenkant. A family card in the Municipal Archive of The Hague says about De Haan that he called himself ‘Henri Simon De Haan’. De Haan married Elsbeth Dorothea Hilda Haufschild on 5 April 1933. As evidenced by the certificate of inheritance mentioned under 1, this marriage (probably) ended by divorce. Investigations show that from 1929 on, De Haan lived alternately in The Hague and Amsterdam.

  3. De Haan was active in the art trade. The archive of the trade register of the Chamber of Commerce of The Hague shows that De Haan, together with Hendrik Maas Szn, was director of N.V. Internationale Kunsthandel (hereafter referred to as: Galerie Internationale) in The Hague from 1929. This dealership had a branch in Amsterdam. After a few years, De Haan stopped working for the business. This is evidenced by Maas’s notification of the Amsterdam trade register dated 17 September 1934, reporting De Haan’s resignation and the closing down of the Amsterdam branch of Galerie Internationale.

  4. During its investigations, the Committee found information showing that De Haan then started work as an art buyer for third parties, and as agent and expert in the purchase of art, working as agent for art collector H.F.J. Weijers, for instance. In 1945, Weijers told the Netherlands Art Property Foundation (hereafter referred to as: SNK) the following about his art collection: ‘zoo goed als alle stukken van myn verzameling, door H.S. de Haan, als myn bemiddelaar destyds, van duitsche joden zyn gekocht’ [almost all objects in my collection were purchased from German Jews by my then agent, H.S. de Haan.]. It also emerges from documentation found that before the war, De Haan also worked as buyer for the Amsterdam art dealership J. Goudstikker N.V., which was headed by Jacques Goudstikker, who was also Jewish. De Haan continued to work as art buyer/agent after the German invasion of the Netherlands, even after the business had been taken over by the German Alois Miedl, who traded with Hermann Göring and others under the name ‘Voorheen J. Goudstikker N.V.’ The foregoing comes to light in statements and other documentation that the Committee found during its investigations and that is cited in the investigatory report. One transaction in which De Haan acted as agent for Alois Miedl was in the sale of a large number of paintings by Nathan and Benjamin Katz of Dieren to art dealership Voorheen J. Goudstikker N.V. (hereafter referred to as: Goudstikker-Miedl) in the summer of 1940. After the war, Miedl said the following about this transaction: ‘De aankoop van Goudstikker vond plaats in Juli 1940. Na deze aankoop kreeg ik via een zekere Fleischman contact met Elte, accountant van de firma Katz te Dieren, (…). Met Elte samen ben ik naar de firma Katz gegaan. Het is mogelijk dat toen ook reeds meeging een zekere de Haan, van Joodse afkomst, die in elk geval later wel als tussenpersoon voor mij is opgetreden’ [The Goudstikker purchase took place in July 1940. Following this purchase, a certain Fleischman brought me into contact with Elte, accountant of the firm of Katz in Dieren, (…). I went to the firm of Katz together with Elte. It is possible that we were accompanied by a De Haan, of Jewish descent, who in any event acted as intermediary for me later.].
    Victor Modrzejewski, an art dealer of German origin, also mentioned the transaction and De Haan’s part in it in a statement he made after the war: ‘Hans de Haan, een joodse kunstkenner, die reeds voor den oorlog inkoper bij de N.V. Goudstikker was, was mijn vriend. Het is mij bekend dat deze De Haan voor de later als eigenaar optredende A. Miedl verschillende schilderijen inkocht o.a. bij de gebroeders Katz te Dieren’ [Hans de Haan, a Jewish art connoisseur, who had already been a buyer at N.V. Goudstikker before the war, was my friend. I know that this De Haan bought various paintings for A. Miedl, who later acted as owner, from the Katz brothers in Dieren and others.]. 

  5. De Haan was arrested in the first months of the war for insulting the German Wehrmacht and sentenced to two years, which he sat out in a prison in Germany. On this subject, the applicant notes that the arrest very probably took place in August 1940 (see 12 below). After his imprisonment had formally come to an end on 10 January 1943, De Haan was taken to Westerbork and from there deported to Auschwitz where he was killed on 19 February 1943.

  6. The applicant asserts that even though De Haan worked in the art trade, several of the claimed works, which she does not specify, were privately owned. She states the following about this: ‘Wat de eigendomssituatie betreft ga ik af op de database van Bureau Herkomst Gezocht. Daarin zag ik een bevestiging van wat mijn moeder (de zuster van Simon de Haan) wist, namelijk dat hij een kwalitatief goede eigen verzameling schilderijen bezat’.
    ‘Het is zeer goed mogelijk dat De Haan schilderijen die hij in zijn (privé-)bezit had moest verkopen, zeker als hij daar als Jood door een vertegenwoordiger van het Nazi-regime als Miedl toe gedwongen werd’
    . [As to the title situation, I am basing my information on the Origins Unknown Agency where I found confirmation of what my mother (Simon de Haan’s sister) knew, namely that De Haan himself owned a collection of paintings of high quality. It is very likely that De Haan had to sell paintings from his (private) collection, especially if, as a Jew, he was forced to do so by a representative of the Nazi regime such as Miedl.]

    The applicant also refers to an online database of artworks that, during the war, ended up at the Sonderauftrag Linz, the German organisation which was tasked with acquiring art for the planned Führermuseum. The following text (or one that differs somewhat) was found in this Linz database next to a number of the currently claimed works:

    Vorbesitzer: De Haan / Amsterdam 1940
    (Privatbesitz Niederlande, von dort an Goudstikker/Miedl)’
    .
    [Previous owner: De Haan / Amsterdam 1940
    (Private property The Netherlands, from there to Goudstikker/Miedl)].

    The Committee investigated this evidence further. Historian Dr H.C. Löhr, on whose research the information in the database is in part based, referred among other things to his book Das braune Haus der Kunst. Hitler und der Sonderauftrag Linz [The Brown House of Art, Hitler and the Special Project Linz] for information about how the entries in the database came about. He says in his book that information about the ‘Vorbesitzer’ [previous owner] was difficult to document as paintings frequently changed hands within a short space of time. This was particularly the case with works that had come into the possession of the Sonderauftrag Linz through the art trade in occupied countries. Löhr writes about the difference between private persons and art dealers: Personen, die durch die historische Überlieferung nicht als Händler identifiziert werden konnten, wurden im Rahmen dieser Untersuchung mit Privat-verkäufern gleich gesetzt’. [Persons who, on the basis of historical records, could not be identified as dealers, were classified as private sellers in the context of this investigation.] The Committee concludes from this that if the investigation in Germany lacked information about a seller’s status, he was in principle classified in the database as a private person. On the basis of this, the Committee believes that without further indications, the above references in the Linz database do not suffice to assume that the artworks at issue here were from De Haan’s private collection.

  7. Given that De Haan was already active in the art trade before the war and that he continued his activities as such after the German invasion (see considerations 3 and 4), the Committee holds that De Haan should be regarded as an art dealer and that the current claim should therefore be assessed on the basis of the guidelines for the art trade (Ekkart Committee’s recommendations of 2003 regarding the art trade). The Committee finds that when formulating recommendations regarding the art trade, the Ekkart Committee had regard for the possibility of private ownership on the part of art dealers. The explanations to these art dealer recommendations state that: ‘Wanneer duidelijk is dat kunstwerken niet behoorden tot de handelsvoorraad van een joodse kunsthandelaar maar al voor de oorlog deel uitmaakten van zijn particuliere verzameling c.q. aankleding van zijn eigen huis, vallen verzoeken om restitutie binnen het bestaande beleid voor teruggave van particulier kunstbezit’. [If it is clear that artworks were not part of the trading stock of a Jewish dealer but were part of his private collection or the decoration of his home before the war, applications for restitution fall within existing policy for the restitution of private art.] To this end, ‘duidelijke indicaties dat het particulier eigendom was in plaats van hard bewijs, voldoende worden geacht’ [‘clear indications rather than hard proof that the object was privately owned must be regarded as being sufficient.].
    The Committee believes that in this case, there is no question of clear indications of private ownership as set out in considerations 8 to 10, and therefore assesses the claim in accordance with the criteria of art dealership policy.

  8. The investigations show that the fourteen claimed artworks ended up with Goudstikker-Miedl through De Haan in the months of July and August 1940. The entries ‘De Haan’ (twelve NK works), ‘de Haan / Katz’ (NK 2824) or ‘Miedl/Haan/Katz’ (NK 2264) are included for the claimed works in the column ‘inkoop’ [purchases] in purchase and sales records (hereafter referred to as: stock book) for the 1940-1941 period that were found in Goudstikker-Miedl’s accounts, without any further information regarding the role that De Haan played in the acquisition of these paintings by Goudstikker-Miedl. The Committee believes that without additional information, these administrative entries concerning De Haan do not constitute clear indications that he owned these artworks privately. For this, the Committee refers first and foremost to the fact that De Haan was active in the Dutch art trade as inkoper/tussenpersoon [buyer/agent] and that he worked as such for others, including Goudstikker-Miedl, as set out in 3 and 4. This fact is substantiated by documents from the Goudstikker-Miedl archive described in the investigatory report, from which it emerges that a commission of 10 per cent was paid for the purchase, from or through De Haan, of various paintings, which may well have included six of the currently claimed works. The Committee also refers to information it has found about the claimed works NK 1667 and NK 2264, which came from the H.F.J. Weijers collection. Although De Haan is mentioned in connection with these works in Goudstikker-Miedl’s stock book, clear indications were found during the investigation of these works that De Haan did not buy these paintings for himself but on the instructions of Miedl. After the war, Weijers wrote about this to the SNK: Nog kan ik U meedelen, dat H.S. de Haan, kunsthandelaar, Amsterdam, van my heeft gekocht en my later vertelde, dat hy dat gedaan had in opdracht van: Aloys MIEDL, destyds Amsterdam, die, naar de Haan my zeide, het eerst te noemen schildery voor Hitler en het tweede voor Göring zou hebben gekocht,: Lucas Cranach, der Aeltere, “Madonna met Kind op Landschapachtergrond” [NK 1667, RC] / Abraham Bloemaert, “Triomf van Neptunis” [NK 2264, RC]’.[ I am also informing you that H.S. de Haan, art dealer, Amsterdam purchased from me, and told me later that he was acting on the instructions of: Aloys MIEDL, formerly Amsterdam, who, as de Haan told me, allegedly bought the first painting for Hitler and the second for Göring, : Lucas Cranach, the Elder, “Madonna and Child with a Landscape background” [NK 1667, RC] / Abraham Bloemaert, “The triumph of Neptune” [NK 2264, RC].

  9. Pursuant to current national policy in respect of the restitution of artworks, restitution can be recommended if the title to the item can be proven with a high degree of probability and possession of the claimed item was lost involuntarily as a result of circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime.

  10. As regards the question of title, the Committee considers, in light of the investigation results, that it is possible but not highly probable that De Haan owned the fourteen claimed paintings. During the investigation, a picture emerges of De Haan as agent and/or buyer of artworks, and that the transactions at issue came about in the course of his work as buyer for Goudstikker-Miedl. Research conducted in various archives by the applicant and by the Committee has yielded no source material from which a different conclusion could be drawn. Nor are there indications that prove with a high degree of probability that the claimed artworks came from De Haan’s own trading stock or private art collection.

  11. As regards the question whether the transactions were involuntary, the Committee considers, perhaps superfluously, the following. During its investigations, the Committee found no indications supporting the applicant’s argument that ‘De Haan als Jood zich tegenover de Nazi-vertegenwoordiger Miedl in een dwangpositie bevond’ [As a Jew, De Haan was in a predicament vis-à-vis Nazi representative Miedl]. Although the Committee appreciates the fact that in July and August 1940, De Haan was required to work under difficult war conditions, and recognises that after the war, Miedl and several of his associates had gained a dubious reputation, the Committee found no evidence that either a direct threat or coercion had been brought to bear on De Haan when he made these transactions. In the Committee’s opinion, the fact that the purchasing party (Miedl) did business with representatives of the Nazi regime does not, in this case, suffice to conclude that the transaction was involuntary. Nor are there indications that the prices and/or commissions involved in these transactions were not in line with market-level values. The sales to Goudstikker-Miedl took place in July and August 1940, at about the same time that De Haan was involved in the purchase of hundreds of artworks from art dealership D. Katz in Dieren, on Miedl’s instructions. The source material to which the Committee had access in the present case suggests that the currently claimed works were part of normal business transactions, in line with the principle of the art dealership policy formulated by the Ekkart Committee ‘dat de kunsthandel verkoop van handelsvoorraad als doelstelling heeft, zodat een belangrijk deel van de verrichte transacties, ook bij de joodse kunsthandelaars, in principe gewone verkoop was’ [that the art trade’s objective is to sell its trading stock so that the majority of the transactions, even at the Jewish art dealers, in principle, constituted ordinary sales]. During its archival research, the Committee found no indications to the contrary.

  12. The applicant also states the following about the transactions: ‘Dat de verkoop van zijn [De Haan, RC] schilderijen, eind juli, begin augustus 1940, niet vrijwillig was, is, gegeven de huidige kennis van die periode, evident. Dit wordt eens te meer duidelijk uit het feit dat hij daarna in het openbaar zijn mening over “die rotmoffen” niet onder stoelen of banken stak, wat hem enkele maanden na de gedwongen verkoop van zijn schilderijen op een arrestatie en een veroordeling tot twee jaar gevangenisstraf kwam te staan’. [That the sale of his (De Haan’s, RC) paintings, in late July, early August 1940, was not voluntary is evident, given what it is now known about that period. This is all the more clear from the fact that after that he made no attempt to keep his opinions about “those bloody krauts” to himself, for which he was arrested and sentenced to two years’ in prison a few months after the enforced sale of his paintings.]
    As to De Haan’s arrest, the applicant stated that during her investigations, she had found convincing evidence that De Haan had been betrayed by D., an art dealer who also worked for Miedl. The Committee consulted a file on D. in the post-war Central Archive Special Jurisdiction (CABR). The indications referred to by the applicant were found in the file, in the form of an accusation directed at D. In light of the ambiguity of the assertions found in the CABR file and the fact that a post-war statement about this case is lacking, the Committee regards this as insufficient proof that D. betrayed De Haan. In this context, the Committee considers that even if De Haan’s arrest was the result of D.’s treachery, this cannot be linked directly to the business transactions at issue here. After all, it is unlikely that the transactions took place after the arrest.

  13. Given the above, the Committee is of the opinion that there is insufficient proof that the claimed artworks were the (private) property of De Haan, despite the fact that the BHG entered the name De Haan in the provenance reconstructions of the claimed objects. The Committee also believes that insufficient indications have been found that the transactions at issue came about as a result of coercion and hence were involuntary. The Committee therefore advises that the claim be rejected.

CONCLUSION

The Restitutions Committee advises the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science to reject I.I. S.-T’s application for restitution.

Adopted at the meeting of 13 October 2011 by W.J.M. Davids (chair), J.Th.M. Bank, P.J.N. van Os, D.H.M. Peeperkorn, E.J. van Straaten, I.C. van der Vlies (vice-chair), and signed by the chair and the secretary.

(W.J.M. Davids, chair)                                  (E. Campfens, secretary)

 


[1] Text correction: an eating couple