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In some quarters of Crimea, WWII has yet to be resolved. In Simferopol's art museum hang 87 paintings that Soviet forces took from the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum in Aachen, Germany, a small part of the large-scale looting of art that took place during the war. The paintings form the core of the Simferopol museum's European collection, and hung in relative obscurity until German tourists visiting Crimea noticed the paintings, photographed them and sent the information to the Aachen museum. Thus began a series of negotiations over the paintings that apparently started out amicably but broke down, said the museum's director, Larina Kudryashova.
During WWII, the Simferopol museum's entire collection of 4,000 paintings was destroyed by German bombs. “And all we got as compensation were these 87,” Kudryashova said. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union there have been various art exchanges between the two former foes, and Kudryashova has a list of all the works of art that have been given back to Germany by Ukraine, and vice versa, emphasizing how Ukraine has given up far more than it has received. “We're worried all the time (that the museum will lose the paintings), because the decisions, starting with (former presidents) Kuchma, Yushchenko — none of them have been for the benefit of Ukraine,” she said.
The Germans offered to make a trade for the paintings in Simferopol, but what they offered was not of comparable artistic merit, Kudryashova said. (Representatives of the Aachen museum didn't respond to a request for comment.) Negotiations are ongoing, “unfortunately,” she said.