Handover marks key moment in Poland’s long effort to regain its lost treasure, amid hopes other descendants of Nazi art thieves will follow example

In December 1939 a Viennese woman with chestnut brown hair walked triumphantly into the National Museum in Kraków.

Charlotte Wächter’s husband was the recently appointed Nazi governor of Kraków: SS Gruppenführer Otto Wächter; she was decorating the new headquarters that he had established at the city’s Potocki Palace – and in the process, she looted every department of the museum.

According to a Polish government assessment from 1946, Frau Wächter took “the most exquisite paintings and the most beautiful items of antique furniture, militaria, etc, despite the fact that the director of the museum had warned her against taking masterpieces for this purpose”.

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