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Merkel’s drastic response to discovery of Goering’s WW2 loot in her office exposed
May 6, 2020
Mrs Merkel was faced with a thorny question of what to do with her office rug when it was found to be part of a collection of wartime treasures looted by Adolf Hitler’s deputy. Until its discovery in 2013, the rug had remained undisturbed in the Chancellor’s office for decades – until journalists from the news magazine Der Spiegel uncovered its origins. The rug was found to be among 600 pieces of furniture and artwork stolen during the war still lying in German government buildings.
During Hitler’s reign of terror, Nazi Germany launched one of the biggest campaigns of looting ever seen.
Museums and stately homes were stripped clean, while the valuable possessions of Holocaust victims also made their way to the private collections of leading Nazis.
As one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany, Goering was able to take his pick of some of the world’s most priceless artefacts as Hitler’s armies rampaged across much of Europe between 1939 and 1945.
He was the recipient of stolen booty and amassed a huge collection of paintings, tapestries and jewellery.
When news of the rug’s discovery came to light, former German culture minister Michael Naumann urged the government to act and return the looted property to its rightful owners or their heirs.
He said at the time: “The legislature must prioritise their return.
“More money must also be used for research in German museums.”
Returning works of looted art, though, can be a fraught procedure.
The death and chaos of World War 2, along with the passing of the years, means that in many cases it is impossible to find the artefact’s original owner.
Mrs Merkel was said to be furious with her aides at the embarrassing revelation but until now, it was not completely clear what the German Chancellor ended up doing with the item.
This week, a German government spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “The carpet was removed from Palais Schaumburg in early 2013.”
Mrs Merkel recently marked her 20th anniversary as the elected leader of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – at a time when the country faces a pandemic that threatens to ruin her legacy.
Despite giving up leadership of the party in 2018, when Annegret Kramp Karrenbauer was voted in as the new CDU leader, her successor’s subsequent resignation, coupled with a postponed party meeting to pick a new leader, means Mrs Merkel is still at the helm.
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Her last year as Chancellor comes as the country tackles the coronavirus emergency that has triggered lockdowns across the world, with serious implications for domestic and international economies.
As she crosses the two-decades mark, this could be her toughest test yet.
However, Germans are already giving her leadership a boost.
Some 80 percent of voters were pleased with Mrs Merkel’s management of the pandemic, according to a poll by broadcaster ZDF’s Forschungsgruppe Wahlen.