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Dr. Katharina Tumpek-Kjellmark Discussion and Presentation on the Holocaust

December 10, 2019

Grand View history professor Dr. Katharina Tumpek-Kjellmark recently participated in a discussion with students via live video link to the online class JUS450 Conflict Resolution. The discussion was hosted by the University of Maine-Augusta in partnership with the Technical University of Liberec in Czechia. She made a presentation and took student questions on the history of the Holocaust as well as specific inquiry into the theft of art and property from Jews in Vienna, Austria.

Her friend, Sharon McMahon Sawyer, is the professor for the course at the University of Maine. They established on-line collaboration with Czech University.  Dr. Katharina Tumpek-Kjellmark reflects, "she realized that some of her students might not have a good background in general issues regarding the Holocaust and knew I had done a lot of research into compensation for victims of Nazi persecution. Specifically, her class was investigating the legal case involving the famous painting known as The Women in Gold by Gustave Klimt, of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Her niece, Maria Altmann, sued the Austrian government, for its return to her family; it had been stolen during the Nazi era." 

One student asked Dr. Tumpek why the Nazis destroyed so much art work which they had stolen from the Jewish population of Europe. She told them: "The Nazi regime considered much of modern art work, such as works by Picasso and Klimt, as degenerate art, which should be destroyed. Also, once Hitler realized the war was lost, he sent out an order to destroy all the art work they had stolen. This included tens of thousands of artifacts produced throughout the ages; Hitler gave a "Nero order" i.e., burn it all.  He believed that whatever and whoever was left in Western civilization once the Third Reich was destroyed did not deserve such beauty.