THE SPOILS OF WAR

RUSSIA'S NEW DISPLAYS OF ART LOOTED FROM GERMANY REIGNITE A DEBATE OVER WHO RIGHTFULLY OWNS SUCH PLUNDER

SHORTLY AFTER THE FALL OF NAZI Germany in May 1945, a young Russian field engineer named Victor Baldin was poking through the cellars of Karnzow Castle, just north of Berlin, where he and other Soviet Army officers were billeted. By the dim light of a candle, he found several bulging portfolios of drawings and watercolors. Their names leaped out at him: Durer, Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Gogh. Amazed at the discovery, Baldin begged his officers for transport space to carry this abandoned trove back to the Soviet Union-to no avail. There was no room on the trucks, and the brigade was pulling...

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