Dave Emory’s entire lifetime of work is available on a flash drive that can be obtained here.  (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books available on this site.)
NB: This description contains material not included in the original program.
Introduction: Exploring past and present, this program examines a detailed, scholarly working hypothesis by authors Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams concerning the possible escape of Adolf Hitler at the end of World War II. (Note that the authors began this investigation as an exploration of something they considered to be no more than a “conspiracy theory” and wound up being an in-depth analysis and investigation. They view the escape as a strong possibility.)
The authors posit that the key players in the realization of Aktion Feurland–the code-name for the operation facilitating Hitler’s escape to Patagonia, Argentina (“Tierra del Fuego”)–were names well known to regular listeners and users of this website: Allen Dulles on the Allied side and Martin Bormann for the Third Reich. (The authors give great credence to Paul Manning’s work  and reference it heavily.)
Centered on a quid pro quo arrangement, the authors hypothesize that Aktion Feurland involved the transfer of Nazi technology to the U.S. and the West (known as Project Paperclip) and the saving of priceless works of art from destruction. In return, Dulles et al guaranteed the safe passage of Hitler, Eva Braun, SS General Hermann Fegelein (Braun’s brother in law), General Heinrich Muller (head of the Gestapo) and Bormann himself.
Note that documents from the late 1940’s on Hitler and his possible escape and whereabouts at that time are STILL classified, the better part of a century after the end of World War II.
Stalin and General Zhukov (the Red Army’s top general) didn’t believe that Hitler was dead. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was deeply skeptical, as well.
A recent disclosure that one Cornelius Gurlitt had many millions of dollars worth of art stashed in what was described as his “dingy” Munich apartment has produced a number of interesting points of inquiry. The art appears to have been a portion of Nazi plunder accumulated during World War II by Cornelius’ father Gurlitt.
Program Highlights Include:
- The handling of the Gurlitt case by the German authorities puzzled many onlookers and analysts. Among the oddities : ” . . . . Why did the German authorities let nearly two years pass before such a sizable find was disclosed? What will become of the recovered works of art? Did Mr. [Cornelius] Gurlitt continue to make sales even after the raid? And where is he today? . . .”
- It turned out that Cornelius Gurlitt’s father Hildebrand had sold artworks  for Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to generate hard currency for the Third Reich. ” . . . . Yet he [Hildebrand Gurlitt] was also one of the few Germans granted permission by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda chief, to sell confiscated art. Sales to foreign buyers were meant to fill Nazi coffers, but art historians have documented many sales in Germany, as well as proceeds pocketed by the dealers involved. . . .”
- Now being portrayed  as something of a “lone nut,” Cornelius Hildebrand maintained a Swiss bank account and had no records with the Munich police department. (In Germany, every citizen is required to register with the local police administration.) ” . . . Despite his seclusion, Mr. Gurlitt clearly calculated his risks. When German customs officers questioned him in 2010 on a train to Munich from Switzerland, where he is known to have a bank account and has sold at least one work, they discovered he was carrying €9,000, just below the legal limit. His excessively shy manner nonetheless set off alarm bells. Their volume increased when investigators discovered later that Mr. Gurlitt did not exist, bureaucratically speaking. He was not listed in Munich’s registry of residents or in other official records. . . . ”
- Note that the younger Gurlitt continued to sell art works, theoretically in order to finance his health care  as he got older. Germany has universal health coverage. On one recent sale, he netted about a half million dollars. That’s a LOT of aspirin! This is another aspect of the case that seems more than a little odd, upon examination. ” . . . . Watching over his family’s art trove was Mr. Gurlitt’s only known job. Periodically, he dipped into the collection to select a work to sell, a need that, according to Der Spiegel, became more pressing in recent years as his health declined. The last piece he is known to have sold — “The Lion Tamer,” by the German artist Max Beckmann — fetched 864,000 euros, or $1.17 million, including commissions, at an auction in Cologne in 2011. Mr. Gurlitt agreed to give 45 percent of the proceeds to a Jewish family that had originally owned the work. . . .”
When the elder Gurlitt was detained by the “Monuments Men”  after the war, he was released and not charged. He was allowed to keep his trove. WHY? ” . . . Soon after, he was detained there and questioned by members of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives unit of the United States military, the group of historians, curators and soldiers entrusted with safeguarding Europe’s cultural heritage. In his statements to investigators, he emphasized his anti-Nazi sentiments and maintained that he had never handled stolen art, and that the works in his possession were mostly “the personal property of my family or myself.” Investigators concluded that he was not an important player in the art trade and later returned to him more than 115 paintings, in addition to drawings and other fine art objects. . . .”
The elder Gurlitt died in an auto accident in 1956 , “racing” back to his home from Berlin. At that point in time, Berlin was a hotbed of Cold War intrigue and espionage. Might the elder Gurlitt have been selling art to help finance Underground Reich and/or BND-related clandestine activities? Might he have been moving art to generate funds for the Underground Reich? Was he fleeing something or someone in Berlin at the time of his death? ” . . . . In 1956, Hildebrand Gurlitt died in a crash on the autobahn while racing from Berlin back to the family’s home in Düsseldorf . . . ”
- Another suspicious detail involves a 1966 inquiry by the German government into the Gurlitt art trove. Hildebrand’s widow (Cornelius’ mother) responded that all of the elder Gurlitt’s art and records were destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden during the war. This was a lie. Investigators subsequently found both paintings and record books kept by Hildebrand! ” . . . . In late 1966, a government agency in Berlin responsible for the restitution of assets plundered during the Nazi era sent a formal letter asking about four paintings acquired by her husband. Mrs. Gurlitt replied that all her husband’s records and artworks had been “incinerated” when the Allies bombed Dresden in February 1945. The search of Cornelius’s apartment last year proved this to be a deception: Investigators found not only paintings but also record books kept by his father.”
- The anomalies in this case may well stem from a very significant fact. The return of the art works is impeded by a Third Reich law, still on the books in the “new” Germany.  This exemplifies a point we have been making about the continuity  between the Third Reich and the Federal Republic. ” . . . . The 1938 law that allowed the Nazis to seize it — and thousands of other Modernist artworks deemed “degenerate” because Hitler viewed them as un-German or Jewish in nature — remains on the books to this day. . . . The law’s existence renders slim the likelihood that Mr. Büche’s museum or dozens of others in Germany can reclaim their works, German legal experts and museum and government officials say. And that law is likely to remain in place. . . .”
- The work of the elder Gurlitt for the Fuehrermuseum in Linz, Austria. This was to be Hitler’s museum containing the greatest works of art in the Western world. Never realized, the art gathered for it comprised the bulk of the art alleged by authors Dunstan and Williams to be at the foundation of the Dulles/Bormann deal in Aktion Feurland.
- The outgrowth of the alleged Dulles/Bormann deal from Operation Sunrise.
- Evita Peron’s role as a key Nazi spy and a major functionary in the Bormann capital network.
- The ostensible betrayal of Bormann and Mueller by the Peron faction, resulting in lethal retribution against them by the Organization.
- The use of the Union Banking Corporation to move Bormann funds from Germany to the U.S. at a time when Prescott Bush, Sr. and George Herbert Walker ran the firm.
1. The authors posit that the key players in the realization of Aktion Feurland–the code-name for the operation facilitating Hitler’s escape to Patagonia, Argentina (“Tierra del Fuego”)–were names well known to regular listeners and users of this website: Allen Dulles on the Allied side and Martin Bormann for the Third Reich. (The authors give great credence to Paul Manning’s work and reference it heavily.)
Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler by Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams; Sterling [HC]; Copyright 2011 by Simon Dunstan, Gerrard Williams and Spitfire Recovery Ltd.; ISBN 978–1‑4027–8139‑1; p. xxx. 
. . . . To the end, Bormann was determined to save the looted wealth of Germany for his own nefarious ends and to sustain a select band of Nazis following military defeat and the fall of Berlin. Massive funds were channeled abroad, while large stashes of bullion and stolen artworks were hidden underground in deep mines across the Third Reich. These were primed with explosives for demolition, which Bormann considered preferable to allowing them to fall into the hands of the Bolshevik hordes. But to Bormann, the artworks were also a bargaining tool. It seems evident that Bormann offered the OSS a Faustian pact: the fruits of one thousand years of Western art, together with the secrets of Nazi Germany’s advanced military technology in exchange for the escape of one man–Adolf Hitler. The alternative was the total destruction of the jewels of Western civilization. This was the key to Aktion Feurland. The deal was done and on the night of April 28, 1945, the plan was put into place. The Grey Wolf was on the run. . . .
2. Centered on a quid pro quo arrangement, the authors hypothesize that Aktion Feurland involved the transfer of Nazi technology to the U.S. and the West (known as Project Paperclip) and the saving of priceless works of art from destruction. In return, Dulles et al guaranteed the safe passage of Hitler, Eva Braun, SS General Hermann Fegelein (Braun’s brother in law), General Heinrich Muller (head of the Gestapo) and Bormann himself.
In the text excerpt below, the authors italicize those parts of their argument that are logical deduction from the documentation, for purposes of emphasis on what is logical speculation and confirmed fact.
Ibid. pp. 133–134. 
. . . . In Bormann’s characteristic style–the carrot and the stick–Kaltenbrunner and [SS Lt. Col. Hans Helmut von] Hummel indicated to Dulles that Bormann was willing to provide the Allies, as an inducement or “carrot,” with information as to the whereabouts of all the Nazi looted art. It would be handed over intact, together with the national treasure of Germany, including its gold deposits, currency reserves, bearer bonds, and industrial patents–except, of course, for the substantial part of this treasure that Bormann had already secreted abroad. An additional and supremely attractive carrot was Bormann’s undertaking to deliver to the Allies examples of the most modern weapons technology together with the whereabouts of the designers, such as Werner von Braun and his V‑2 team, and the nuclear scientists [and uranium ore] of the Uranium Club. Furthermore, the ceasefire in Italy would be ratified immediately. But what was the desired price for such treasures? A blind eye turned to the escape of Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun, Martin Bormann, Heinrich “Gestapo” Muller, Hermann Fegelein, and Ernest Kaltenbrunner. The rest of the Nazi hierarchy was to be abandoned to their fate.
The “stick” was simple. Germany now claimed to be capable of bombarding the eastern seaboard of the United States with weapons of mass destruction: considerable effort had been invested in selling the disinformation to U.S. intelligence agencies, with some success. (See Chapter 16). These weapons incorporated warheads armed with the most toxic nerve agents ever devised, sarin and tabun. In addition, many repositories of the greatest works of art produced during centuries of Western civilization was now held hostage, and this threat was entirely credible, following Hitler’s “Nero Decree” of March 19. Officially titled “Demolitions on Reich Territory,” this decree ordered the utter destruction of all German industrial infrastructure and technology; although not included in the official order, it also implied the destruction of cultural assets and the elimination of any key personnel who might be useful to the Allied powers. . . .
3. Note that documents from the late 1940’s on Hitler and his possible escape and whereabouts at that time are STILL classified, the better part of a century after the end of World War II.
Ibid.; p.242. 
. . . . During this period [the late 1940’s], the FBI was taking reports of Hitler being in Latin America very seriously. Thousands of documents pertaining to Hitler from these years are still classified as Top Secret on both sides of the Atlantic; nevertheless, and despite the very heavy censorship of the few files released into the public domain, some information can be gleaned. . . .
4. Stalin and General Zhukov (the Red Army’s top general) didn’t believe that Hitler was dead. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was deeply skeptical, as well.
Ibid.; p. xxii. 
. . . . Stalin never believed Hitler was dead, insisting at the Potsdam Conference on July17, 1945, that he had escaped–probably to “Spain or Argentina.” Stalin’s top general, Marshal Georgy Zhukov, said on August 6, 1945; “We found no corpse that could be Hitler’s.”
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower stated publicly on October 12, 1945, “There is every assumption that Hitler is dead, but not a bit of conclusive proof that he is dead.” He told the Associated Press that “Russian friends” had informed him that they had been “unable to unearth any tangible evidence of his death.” One U.S. senator went as far as offering one million U.S. dollars for proof of Hitler’s death. It has never been claimed. . . .
5a. We have spoken at length about the Bormann flight capital network in numerous programs. The Thyssen-owned Union Banking Corporation was used for the Bormann capital transfers to the U.S. Prescott Bush,Sr. and George Herbert Walker  were head of the Union Banking Corporation at this time.
Ibid.; p. 85. 
. . . . With exquisite hypocrisy, Bormann made use of the Thyssen family’s private bank in Rotterdam, Bank Voor Handel en Scheepvaart N.V., which had originally been founded by August Thyssen in 1918 in order to send illicit funds out of the Kaiser’s Germany as defeat in World War I approached. Money was channeled to the Union Banking Corporation of New York, which was wholly owned by Fritz Thyssen’s Vereignigte Stahlwerke AG (United Steelworks). From there it was disbursed to accounts in other American banks, including National City Bank, Chase National Bank, and Irving Trust, and used to buy stocks in U.S. companies and corporations. . . . .
5b. One of the principal figures in the Bormann network’s transfer of Nazi funds to Argentina was Eva Duarte, later and better known as “Evita Peron.”
“Evita” was a Nazi spy, even before she married Juan Peron.
Ibid.; p. 198. 
. . . . Martin Bormann, as always, was entirely clear-sighted, and during that year he put in hand his plan to prepare and fund that refuge–Aktion Feurland. The Nazi synpathizers in Argentina enjoyed a virtually free rein, continuing to operate schools with Nazi symbols and ideology and meeting regularly (although by 1943, not as publicly as before), but the key conspirators were few–a group limited to people Bormann had reason to trust. These included a clique of powerful, venal bankers and industrialists such as Ludwig Freude; a charismatic ambitouis army officer, Juan Domingo Peron; and a beautiful, intelligent acress, Eva Duarte. . . .
5c. More about Bormann and Eva Duarte (later Eva Peron):
p. 210. 
. . . . Ludwig Freude’s and Eva Duarte’s involvement in the smuggling operation was made clear in an Argentine police document of April 18, 1945. This detailed the operations of Freude, “agent of the Third Reich,” and his dealings with an Argentine agent, “Natalio.” This informant reported that Freude had made very substantial deposits in various Buenos Aires banks in the name of the “well-known radio-theatrical actress Maria Eva Duarte.” Freude told Natalio that on February 7, 1945, a U‑boat had brought huge funds to help in the reconstruction of the Nazi empire. Subsequent police investigations revealed that cases from the U‑boat with the woreds Geheime Reichssache (“Reich Top Secret”) stenciled on them, had been taken to a Lahusen ranch run by two “Nazi brothers, just outside Buenos Aires.” Deposits of gold and various currencies were later made in Eva’s name at the Banco Aleman Transatlantico, Banco Germanico, and Banco Tornquist. . . .
5d. After marrying Juan Peron, Evita helped finalize Bormann’s decampment to Argentina:
Ibid.; p. 258. 
. . . .The all-conquering Evita left Spain for Rome on June 25, 1947. Father Benitez would smooth her way in the Vatican with the aid of Bishop Alois Hudal [one of the key members of the Vatican/Nazi “Ratline”]. Two days after she arrived she was given an audience with pope Pius XII, spending twenty minutes with the Holy Father–“a time usually allotted by Vatican protocol to queens.” However, there was a more sinister side to the Rome trip. Using Bishop Hudal as an intermediary, she arranged to meet Bormann in an Italian villa at Rapallo provided for her use by [Argentine shipping billionaire Alberto] Dodero. The shipowner was also present at the meeting, as was Eva’s brother Juan Duarte. There, she and her former paymaster cut the deal that guaranteed that his Fuhrer’s safe haven would continue to remain safe, and allowed Bormann to leave Europe at last for a new life in South America. However, she and her team had one shocking disappointment for Bormann. . . .
5e. The authors contend that Evita, her husband and others of the Argentine end of the Nazi flight capital program in Argentina doubled on Bormann and Mueller, with lethal results for the conspirators. In 1952, Evita died of cancer at age 33. Much of her husband’s popularity stemmed from her public persona. Deprived of it by her untimely death, he was overthrown in a military coup.
. . . . Proving that there is no honor among thieves, the Perons presented Bormann with a radical renegotiation of their earlier understanding. Evita had brought with her to Europe some $800 million worth of the treasure that he had placed in supposed safekeeping in Argentina, and she would deposit this vast sum in Swiss banks for the Perons’ own use. . . .
. . . . However, the Borman “Organization” had a keen memory. After the spring of 1948, when Muller based himself in Cordoba and became directly responsible for the security of the Organization, the bankers who had betrayed Bormann would begin to suffer a string of untimely deaths. Heinrich Doerge died mysteriously in 1949; in December 1950, Ricardo von Leute was found dead in a Buenos Aires street, and Ricardo Staudt would survive him by only a few months. Ludwig Freude himself, the kingpin of Aktion Feurland in Argentina, died in 1952 from drinking a poisoned cup of coffee, and Evita’s younger brother Juan Duarte met his end in 1954 with a gunshot to the head. Officially, he was said to have committed suicide. . . . .
6. A recent disclosure that one Cornelius Gurlitt had many millions of dollars worth of art stashed in what was described as his “dingy” Munich apartment has produced a number of interesting points of inquiry. The art appears to have been a portion of Nazi plunder accumulated during World War II by Cornelius’ father Gurlitt.
. . . . If confirmed, the discovery would be one of the biggest finds of vanished art in years. But word of it left almost equally big questions unanswered: Why did the German authorities let nearly two years pass before such a sizable find was disclosed? What will become of the recovered works of art? Did Mr. [Cornelius] Gurlitt continue to make sales even after the raid? And where is he today? . . .
. . . . Yet he [Hildebrand Gurlitt] was also one of the few Germans granted permission by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda chief, to sell confiscated art. Sales to foreign buyers were meant to fill Nazi coffers, but art historians have documented many sales in Germany, as well as proceeds pocketed by the dealers involved. . . .
7. The handling of the case by the German authorities puzzled many onlookers and analysts. Now being portrayed as something of a “lone nut,” Cornelius Hildebrand maintained a Swiss bank account and had no records with the Munich police department. (In Germany, every citizen is required to register with the local police administration.)
Note that the younger Gurlitt continued to sell art works, theoretically in order to finance his health care as he got older. Germany has universal health coverage. On one recent sale, he netted about a half million dollars. That’s a LOT of aspirin! This is another aspect of the case that seems more than a little odd, upon examination.
When the elder Gurlitt was detained by the “Monuments Men” after the war, he was released and not charged. He was allowed to keep his trove. WHY?
The elder Gurlitt died in an auto accident in 1956, “racing” back to his home from Berlin. At that point in time, Berlin was a hotbed of Cold War intrigue and espionage. Might the elder Gurlitt have been selling art to help finance Underground Reich and/or BND-related clandestine activities? Might he have been moving art to generate funds for the Underground Reich? Was he fleeing something or someone in Berlin at the time of his death?
Another suspicious detail involves a 1966 inquiry by the German government into the Gurlitt art trove. Hildebrand’s widow (Cornelius’ mother) responded that all of the elder Gurlitt’s art and records were destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden during the war. This was a lie. Investigators subsequently found both paintings and record books kept by Hildebrand!
. . . Despite his seclusion, Mr.[Cornelius] Gurlitt clearly calculated his risks. When German customs officers questioned him in 2010 on a train to Munich from Switzerland, where he is known to have a bank account and has sold at least one work, they discovered he was carrying €9,000, just below the legal limit. His excessively shy manner nonetheless set off alarm bells. Their volume increased when investigators discovered later that Mr. Gurlitt did not exist, bureaucratically speaking. He was not listed in Munich’s registry of residents or in other official records. . . .
. . . .Watching over his family’s art trove was Mr. Gurlitt’s only known job. Periodically, he dipped into the collection to select a work to sell, a need that, according to Der Spiegel, became more pressing in recent years as his health declined. The last piece he is known to have sold — “The Lion Tamer,” by the German artist Max Beckmann — fetched 864,000 euros, or $1.17 million, including commissions, at an auction in Cologne in 2011. Mr. Gurlitt agreed to give 45 percent of the proceeds to a Jewish family that had originally owned the work. . . .
. . . Soon after, he [Hildebrand–the elder Gurlitt] was detained there and questioned by, the group of historians, curators and soldiers entrusted with safeguarding Europe’s cultural heritage. In his statements to investigators, he emphasized his anti-Nazi sentiments and maintained that he had never handled stolen art, and that the works in his possession were mostly “the personal property of my family or myself.” Investigators concluded that he was not an important player in the art trade and later returned to him more than 115 paintings, in addition to drawings and other fine art objects. . . .
. . . . In 1956, Hildebrand Gurlitt died in a crash on the autobahn while racing from Berlin back to the family’s home in Düsseldorf . . .
. . . . In late 1966, a government agency in Berlin responsible for the restitution of assets plundered during the Nazi era sent a formal letter asking about four paintings acquired by her husband. Mrs. Gurlitt replied that all her husband’s records and artworks had been “incinerated” when the Allies bombed Dresden in February 1945. The search of Cornelius’s apartment last year proved this to be a deception: Investigators found not only paintings but also record books kept by his father. . . .
Wolfgang Büche was amazed this month when a watercolor seized by the Nazis from the small museum in this eastern city, where he is the curator, reappeared, part of a vast trove uncovered in a Munich apartment.
But his excitement at seeing the work, “Landscape With Horses,” a possible study for a 1911 painting by the German Expressionist Franz Marc, was tempered by one fact he called “irrefutable”: The 1938 law that allowed the Nazis to seize it — and thousands of other Modernist artworks deemed “degenerate” because Hitler viewed them as un-German or Jewish in nature — remains on the books to this day.
The German authorities say they believe that 380 works confiscated from German public museums under the Nazi-era law may be among the more than 1,200 paintings, lithographs and drawings found stashed away in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive 80-year-old son of a Nazi-era art dealer.
The law’s existence renders slim the likelihood that Mr. Büche’s museum or dozens of others in Germany can reclaim their works, German legal experts and museum and government officials say. And that law is likely to remain in place. . . .
9. An article from Der Spiegel discloses how profound was Cornelius Gurlitt’s activities on behalf of the Third Reich. He was involved with appropriating works of art for Hitler’s proposed art museum in Linz, Austria. Works intended for that museum were alleged by Dunstan and Williams to have been central to the apparent Dulles/Bormann deal at the foundation of Aktion Feurland.
Hildebrand Gurlitt, the man who assembled the astounding art collection recently discovered in a Munich apartment, was more deeply involved in the trade of looted artworks than had been previously assumed. He also profited from Nazi injustices after the war.
The Americans moved in from the west around noon. There were two tanks, followed by infantry soldiers, their weapons at the ready.
There are people in Aschbach, a village in the Upper Franconia region of Bavaria, who remember April 14, 1945 very clearly. They were children then, helping out in the fields as the soldiers marched past. They remember that some of the men had dark skin and gave them chewing gum.
At the time, Aschbach was a town of a few hundred residents, complete with a castle on a hill that belonged to the aristocratic Pölnitz family. The castle, its façade covered in brownish plaster overgrown with wild grape vines, was part of an estate that included a lake and several hundred hectares of forest. It still stands on the outskirts of Aschbach today, a fairytale castle in Franconia.
During those last days of World War II, Aschbach residents hung white sheets from their windows and were later registered by the American soldiers. The Americans arrested local Nazi Party leader Baron Gerhard von Pölnitz. The residents who were registered included a man named Karl Haberstock, who appeared on a wanted list of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the CIA. Haberstock, an art dealer, had been living in the castle with his wife for several months.
The American army had a special unit to handle such cases, the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section. Their job was to search for art stolen by the Nazis.
When Captain Robert K. Posey and his assistant, Private Lincoln Kirstein, known as “Monuments Men,” inspected the castle in early May they found an enormous art warehouse. It contained paintings and sculptures from the museum in nearby Bamberg and a picture gallery in the central German city of Kassel, whose directors had sought to protect the works from Allied bombs. They also discovered suspicious private property, some 13 crates of artworks marked as belonging to Heribert Fütterer, the commander of the German Air Force division for Bohemia and Moravia. The estate chapel contained suitcases and bags full of art, which Ewald von Kleist, the former commander of Army Group A of the Wehrmacht, had left there. Captain Posey declared the estate a restricted area and had signs reading “Off Limits” posted at the property.
A few days later, a Monuments Man noted: “In addition, rooms containing paintings, tapestries, statues, valuable furniture and documents from the belongings of two notorious German art dealers were found in the castle.” They were the collections of Karl Haberstock and a certain Hildebrand Gurlitt, who had also lived in the castle with his family since their house in Dresden was burned down.
A note dated May 16 reads: “A large room on the upper floor with 34 boxes, two packages containing carpets, eight packages of books … one room on the ground floor containing an additional 13 boxes owned by Mr. Gurlitt.” Most of these boxes contained pictures and drawings.
‘Connections Within High-Level Nazi Circles’
In the following months and years, the American art investigators wrote letters, memos, inventory lists, reports and dossiers to clear up the origins of the art. With regard to Haberstock, they wrote: “Mr. Karl Haberstock, from Berlin, is the most notorious art collector in Europe. He was Hitler’s private art collector and, for years, seized art treasures in France, Holland, Belgium and even Switzerland and Italy, using illegal, unscrupulous and even brutal methods. His name is infamous among all honest collectors in Europe.”
Gurlitt, they wrote, was “an art collector from Hamburg with connections within high-level Nazi circles. He acted on behalf of other Nazi officials and made many trips to France, from where he brought home art collections. There is reason to believe that these private art collections consist of looted art from other countries.” For the Monuments Men, Gurlitt was also an “art dealer to the Führer.”
Now, almost 70 years later, what the Monuments Men discovered at Aschbach Castle in May 1945 has shown a spotlight on Germany’s past once again. Customs officials found an enormous treasure trove of artworks from the Third Reich in an apartment in Munich’s Schwabing district. It includes 380 pictures that the Nazis had dubbed “degenerate art” in 1937 and removed from museums. The Schwabing find also included 590 other artworks that the Nazi regime and its henchmen may have stolen from Jewish owners. The owner of the apartment is Gurlitt’s son Cornelius, the current heir of the collection, who was 12 and living in Aschbach at the end of the war.
Consequences of Munich Discovery
With the origins of the individual pictures still unclear, a task force appointed by the German government is investigating the history of each artwork. It will be a lengthy effort. But a search performed by SPIEGEL staff, in such places as the French Foreign Ministry archives and the National Museum in Wroclaw, Poland, has revealed the substantial extent to which Gurlitt dealt in looted art and how ruthless his practices were.
A Hollywood film about the Monuments Men will be screened for the first time at next year’s Berlin Film Festival. George Clooney produced and directed the film, in addition to playing the main role: a US soldier who is part of a special unit made up of art historians, museum experts and other assistants, whose mission is to recover art stolen by the Nazis and rescue it from destruction in the final days of the war. Apparently the film depicts the historical events with some degree of accuracy.
But perhaps what happened in Aschbach in those last few days of the war and the first few months of peace would make for a more interesting film: an enchanted castle in Upper Franconia owned by a baron who had joined the Nazis, and who served during the war in Paris, where he worked with art dealers with dubious reputations, some of whom he eventually harbored in his castle near the end of the ill-fated Third Reich.
It would be a film about the country’s elites, who benefited from the crimes of the Nazis, a story about culprits who quickly transformed themselves into supposedly upstanding citizens and, in a new Germany, became the pillars of society once again.
In a bizarre twist, for several months after the war Schloss Aschbach housed a group of young Jews who had survived the Holocaust. Ironically they, and not the Nazi baron, lived in the castle’s elegant rooms before leaving the land of the Shoah for good. But more on that later.
The Monuments Men questioned Hildebrand Gurlitt in Aschbach in June 1945. They noticed that he seemed “extremely nervous” and noted it seemed as if he were not telling the whole truth. It was during those days that Gurlitt, the “art dealer to the Führer,” reinvented himself: as a victim of the Nazis, a man who had saved precious artworks from destruction and someone who had never done anything malicious.
Of course, not everything Gurlitt told the Americans was false. He pointed out that the Nazis classified him as a “mongrel,” because of his Jewish grandmother, and that he had feared for his future and even his life after 1933, which led him to cooperate. As Gurlitt stated during the three-day interrogation, there was a risk that he, as a so-called quarter-Jew, would be drafted into forced labor for the Todt Organization, a Third Reich civil and military engineering group. Gurlitt also said: “I had to decide between the war and the work for museums. I never bought a picture that wasn’t offered to me voluntarily. As I heard, laws were also enacted in France so that Jewish art collections could be confiscated. But I never saw it with my own eyes.”
The Monuments Men in Aschbach felt that Haberstock was the more egregious criminal. He was taken into investigative custody in May 1945, and in August he was brought to Altaussee in Austria, where all those who were viewed as truly serious art criminals were required to testify near a salt mine filled with artworks. Gurlitt was allowed to stay in Aschbach.
Haberstock later told German officials that the Americans had underestimated Gurlitt’s role during the Nazi period. In a 1949 letter to a government official, he wrote: “I was able to prove everything, including, for example, that I was not the main supplier for Linz, whereas Mr. Voss, during his short term in office, bought about 3,000 artworks and took over confiscated collections together with his main buyer, Dr. Hildebrand Gurlitt.”
Linz was to be the site of Hitler’s massive Führer museum. It was never built, and yet the Nazis bought enough art to fill three museums. Hermann Voss, a museum director from Wiesbaden who had also run a museum in Dresden, ran the art-buying program from 1943 onward. From then on, Gurlitt worked for Hitler through Voss, who served as a middleman. He also bought art for German museums that had been brought into line by the regime, as well as for private citizens like Hamburg cigarette manufacturer Hermann F. Reemtsma, Hanover chocolate magnate Bernhard Sprengel and Cologne lawyer Josef Haubrich.
Gurlitt’s Early Career
In 1930, art historian Gurlitt was removed from his post as director of the museum in the eastern city of Zwickau, because he was viewed as a champion of modern art. He went to Hamburg, where he ran the city’s Kunstverein art museum, until he was fired once again over his preference for the avant-garde, as well as his Jewish grandmother.
Gurlitt remained in Hamburg, where he became an art dealer and opened a gallery. At the time, the kind of modern art he had consistently supported had become a risky business. Gurlitt increasingly bought and sold older, more traditional art. He had a knack for the business, developing relationships with collectors and finding ways to gain access to pictures. Before long, he was buying art from people who were being persecuted, mainly Jews, who sold their art because they were being forced to flee Germany, had lost their jobs and needed money to feed their families, or were being required to pay the so-called “Jewish wealth levy.” Through middlemen, Gurlitt also bought art that had been seized by the Gestapo.
One of the paintings the Monuments Men found in Aschbach Castle, in a crate Gurlitt had marked with the number 36, was by the Bulgarian painter Jules Pascin, born in 1885. It depicts two women, one nude and another wearing a shirt, and a man. They seem to be strangers, and they are not looking at each other — a metaphor for the bleakness of life. Pascin painted it in Paris in 1909 and called it “The Studio of the Painter Grossmann.” He committed suicide in 1930.
Gurlitt told the Americans that the painting had belonged to his father, who had bought it before the Nazis came into power. In fact, Gurlitt bought the Pascin in 1935 for 600 Reichsmark, significantly less than it was worth, from Julius Ferdinand Wollf, the longstanding editor-in-chief of a Dresden newspaper, the Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten. Wollf was a passionately ethical and respected journalist, until the Nazis forced him out of office in 1933. Because of his Jewish background, he soon lost his assets and the SS laid waste to his apartment. In 1942, shortly before his scheduled deportation to a concentration camp, he took his own life, together with his wife and his brother.
After initially confiscating the painting, the Americans returned it to Gurlitt in 1950. It must have been sold later. In 1969, at any rate, it was included in several exhibitions, on loan from a French family of collectors. In 1972, it was sold at auction at Christie’s in London for almost $40,000 (€29,000). The work later turned up in Chicago.
‘Degenerate Art’ a Lucrative Export
Gurlitt became the official dealer in “degenerate art,” the modern works that were no longer deemed acceptable in the Third Reich. He was expected to sell the works abroad to bring in hard currency. He also continued his dealings in older art. On Dec. 4, 1938, he acquired drawings by the 19th-century painter Adolf Menzel. They had belonged to a Jewish doctor in Hamburg, Ernst Julius Wolffson, who had a practice on Rothenbaumchaussee, a street in an upscale neighborhood, and was the chairman of the medical association.
Wolffson was deprived of his reputation and stripped of his positions after 1933, and his medical license was revoked in 1938. He was imprisoned at Sachsenhausen concentration camp, but he was subsequently released when influential Hamburg residents spoke out on his behalf. A family man, he had no income and no insurance when he was ordered to pay the “Jewish wealth levy” in 1938. Gurlitt paid him 2,550 Reichmark, far below the market price, for nine Menzel drawings. Art historian Maike Bruhns discovered that Hamburg industrialist Hermann F. Reemtsma, one of Gurlitt’s regular customers, had bought two of the drawings.
After the war, the Wolffson family’s attorney demanded the return of the drawings, but Gurlitt refused to provide any information about the buyers. In 1993, two of the works in the Wolffson collection were included in a memorial exhibition titled “Works of Art that Affect Me. The Collector Hermann F. Reemtsma.”
Dealing in Wartime
Gurlitt remained in Hamburg until 1942. In the first years of the war, at the height of Germany’s military successes, Gurlitt expanded his territory to include Holland, Belgium and France. When bombs destroyed his gallery on the Alster Lake in Hamburg, Gurlitt took his wife and their two children to Dresden to live in his parents’ house. From there, he established a relationship with Cornelius Müller Hofstede, who headed the Silesian Museum in Breslau (now called Wroclaw), where he appraised the collections of persecuted Jews and sold the confiscated paintings on the market. Müller Hofstede ordered paintings picked up from Jewish homes and, using an obsequious tone, wrote to Gurlitt to offer him the works. He also mentioned that he was even willing to come to Dresden to “present” the pictures to Gurlitt. His letter ended with the words “Heil Hitler!”
It was also Müller Hofstede who obtained the Max Liebermann painting “Two Riders on the Beach” for Gurlitt. A few weeks ago, the work was one of the first pictures from the confiscated Gurlitt collection in Munich to be shown at a press conference. The Nazis had confiscated it from sugar refiner David Friedmann, who died in 1942. Friedmann’s daughter was killed in a concentration camp in 1943.
Like Müller Hofstede in Breslau, Voss, the coordinator for the Linz special project, had assisted the Gestapo and, as a “police expert,” had appraised Jewish collections. He would go into the homes of the persecuted and pick out pieces for his museum. He was traveling a great deal in 1943, to Berlin, Basel and Breslau. According to this travel notes, he met with “A.H. in the Führer’s building” on a February night in Munich. He also attended questionable auctions and went to Vienna and Linz. But he did not go to Paris, because Gurlitt was there on his behalf.
Shady Circles, Piles of Cash
Gurlitt had made his first purchases by 1941, the year of the German invasion of France. The fact that the paintings came from France increased their value. Many German museum directors longed to go to France, and the country was also a place Gurlitt loved. Important French collections were confiscated, or their owners were forced into selling at ridiculously low prices. Gurlitt apparently surrounded himself with a group of shady members of the art world, including agents, informers and other dealers. He was in great demand, because he had millions of Reichsmark to spend.
Gurlitt was now making regular trips to Paris. And contrary to his later assertions, he did not stay in modest guesthouses but in grand hotels or the apartment of a mistress. The three men who would later come together at Aschbach Castle also met in Paris. Under Voss’s predecessor, art dealer Haberstock had been one of the preferred buyers for the future Hitler museum. He stayed at the Ritz, and he would announce his upcoming visits to Paris in an art magazine. He also handed out cards indicating that he was looking for “first class pictures” by old masters.
Baron Gerhard von Pölnitz, the lord of the manor in Aschbach, was stationed in Paris during those years, as an officer in the German Air Force. In his free time, he worked for Haberstock and Gurlitt, setting up deals and serving as their representative. Jane Weyll, one of Haberstock’s employees, became the baron’s mistress.
There is a report by French art historian Michel Martin about Hildebrand Gurlitt in the French Foreign Ministry archive. During the occupation period, Martin worked in the paintings department at the Louvre, where he issued export permits for artworks. Gurlitt, Martin wrote, had access to “constantly expanding credit” and had acquired works worth a total of “400 to 500 million francs.”
Whenever Gurlitt returned to Germany, he brought along photographs of selected paintings to show museum staff. According to Martin’s account, he also acquired works for his private collection in Paris. “As soon as Gurlitt encountered our resistance to his art exports, he would pick up artworks without our permission, or he would get help from the German Embassy. Gurlitt took important artworks out of the country against our will.”
‘Merely an Official’
Martin also wrote that he had believed Gurlitt when he said that he did “not wish to deal in artworks that came from Jewish collections.” Apparently Gurlitt also insisted that he was “merely an official” acting on orders from above.
Pölnitz, Haberstock and Gurlitt met again at Aschbach Castle at the end of the war. Haberstock, who the Americans eventually turned over to the German courts, was later exonerated. He worked as an art dealer in Munich after the war and died in 1956, the same year as his competitor Gurlitt.
After the war ended, Baron von Pölnitz was taken to an internment camp in Moosburg in Upper Bavaria from which he was released in 1947. His denazification file has disappeared. He died in 1962 at the age of 64.
The Americans placed Gurlitt under house arrest in Aschbach. To occupy his time, he gave talks on Dürer and Barlach, and kitsch in religious art, to the small local church congregation. Otherwise, he wrote letters attempting to justify his purchases in France.
In a 1947 letter to Madame Rose Valland, a French art historian who was in charge of restitutions, he insisted that he had been a “genuine friend of France and a true opponent of the Nazi regime,” one who, “in speech and writing,” had “always championed French art.” It was only “strange coincidences” that had made it possible “for me to save myself by going to France as an art dealer.” He made no mention of his work for the Führer museum in Linz.
Putting the Past Behind Him
Gurlitt’s house arrest was lifted, and in January 1948 he moved to Düsseldorf, where he became the director of that city’s Kunstverein museum. He promptly declared his years in Aschbach as “part of the past,” but he also noted that life there was “quite pleasant and peaceful.”
In 1950, Gurlitt’s art was restored to him from the archive of seized property known as the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point. He had already been acquitted of all charges. The Americans had confiscated a total of 140 works. But Gurlitt had also hidden a portion of his collection from the Americans in an old water mill, which he then recovered.
Gurlitt was a respected member of society once again, gaining the support of Düsseldorf industrialists by featuring their art collections in exhibitions. At the same time, he began showing his own collection again, cleansing it of its past associations in the process. In 1953, he was appointed to an honorary committee overseeing an exhibition of German art in Lucerne, Switzerland, sponsored by Germany’s then-President Theodor Heuss. A few of the pictures were from Gurlitt’s collection, including a painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (“Two Female Nudes”) and a watercolor by Franz Marc (“Large Horse”).
Part of Gurlitt’s purpose in showing the paintings was probably to assess whether there would be any objections or claims from the true owners. A year later, he presented an exhibition titled “Works of French Painting and the Graphic Arts” at Villa Hügel in the western city of Essen: paintings by French Impressionists like Paul Signac, Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas, which would be worth several million euros today, including a view of the Waterloo Bridge by Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet’s “Landscape with Rocks.” Their whereabouts are as unclear today as their origins.
Final Years and Tall Tales
Finally, in 1956, the year of his death, Gurlitt sent pictures from his collection to New York, including works by Max Beckmann and Vassily Kandinsky. He wrote a biographical sketch for the catalog, but it was never published. In the piece, Gurlitt described himself as courageous and bold, a hero whose dealings during the war were a “dangerous balancing act,” and who had nothing left to his name but a pushcart filled with necessities after the bombing of Dresden. His account sounded almost like the story of the Kaims, a Jewish couple from Breslau who sold Gurlitt one of their paintings, lost everything and were sent to the ghetto pushing a handcart.
Gurlitt died after a car accident in 1956. In his obituaries, he was celebrated as an important figure in the postwar West German art world. His widow Helene moved to Munich in the early 1960s, where she bought two expensive apartments in a new building in Schwabing. In May 1960, she had four works from her husband’s collection sold by the Ketterer Kunst auction house, including Beckmann’s “Bar, Brown,” which belongs to a US museum today, and a painting of playwright Bertolt Brecht by Rudolf Schlichter, which ended up in Munich’s Lenbachhaus. The painting, an important work from the New Objectivity movement, is now one the museum’s best-known works.
The Schlichter work was also among the paintings the Monuments Men had found in Aschbach. One of their German colleagues there, who later became the director of the Lenbachhaus, bought the work in the 1960 Ketterer auction.
There are many examples of works that Gurlitt acquired under questionable circumstances. There are also a number of pictures hanging in German museums today, from Hanover to Wiesbaden, that were bought from Gurlitt. There are even pictures that Gurlitt bought for Hitler’s museum in Linz, which, because of their unclear origins, became the property of the state. One such painting, a landscape by the classicist painter Jakob Philipp Hackert, hangs in the German Foreign Ministry today.
Several paintings turned up in art galleries. One was August Macke’s “Woman with Parrot,” an early work of German Cubism. It was shown in exhibitions in 1962 and later in 2001, in each case as part of a private collection. In 2007, the work was sold at auction in Berlin’s Villa Grisebach auction house for more than €2 million. Gurlitt’s daughter Benita had apparently delivered the painting. She died in May 2012. . . .
11. Much of the art–including that acquired by Hildebrand Gurlitt, “Art Dealer to the Fuehrer”–was for the Fuehrermuseum in Linz, Austria. That museum was never built and the art acquired for it became part of the “carrot” allegedly bargained for in Aktion Feurland.
Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler by Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams; Sterling [HC]; Copyright 2011 by Simon Dunstan, Gerrard Williams and Spitfire Recovery Ltd.; ISBN 978–1‑4027–8139‑1; pp. 38–39. 
. . . . In the month following the Anschluss [annexation of Austria in 1938–D.E.], Hitler decided to create the greatest art museum inthe world in the city of Linz, close to his birthplace. The Fuhrermuseum was planned to become the repository for all the great works of art looted during the Nazi wars of conquest–except, of course, for those pieces diverted to the private collections of Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goring, and a select few others of the Nazi elite. . . .
. . . . Within a few weeks [of the fall of France in 1940], a fabulous body of art had been assembled at the Louvre and the German embassy awaiting a decision as to final disposal. This included twenty-six “Jewish-owned works of degenerate art,” comprising fourteen Braques, seven Picassos, four Leges, and a Roualt, which were retained for “trading for artistically valuable works.” . . . .
12. The apparent Bormann/Dulles deal that cemented Aktion Feurland grew out of the negotiations between Allen Dulles and SS General Karl Wolff involving the surrender Axis forces in Italy. That was code-named Operation Sunrise  (later “Operation Crossword”). This deal allegedly involved the transfer to the Allies of priceless works of art taken from Florence’s celebrated Uffizi Gallery.
Ibid.; p. 123. 
. . . . Significantly, Wolff also submitted a list of art treasures from the Uffizi gallery in Dlorence that he was willing to return intact if the surrender talks prospered. . . .
13. Updating FTR #791 , we note the death of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of prominent Nazi art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt. The younger Gurlitt was found to be in possession of a vast trove of artworks, valued at at $1.35 billion by some accounts.
A Wall Street Journal article maintains that the elder Gurlitt was to be the director of Hitler’s Fuehrermuseum. Never built, the art for that intended institution comprised much of the art alleged by authors Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams to be at the center of the deal between Allen Dulles and Martin Bormann.
Cornelius Gurlitt, the octogenarian son of one of Adolf Hitler’s major art dealers, died in his Munich home on Tuesday morning, leaving the fate of his roughly 1,400 artworks unclear.
Legal questions now swarm surrounding how–and even if–looted works in the collection can now be restituted to Holocaust victims and their heirs.
Mr. Gurlitt, 81 years old, stepped from complete obscurity into world-wide prominence last fall after German media reports surfaced that Bavarian tax authorities had confiscated in early 2012 what is regarded as the largest-ever trove of Nazi-looted art in private hands.
The fact that the find remained unreported for nearly two years and the government’s refusal to put pressure on Mr. Gurlitt to return any looted artwork to heirs of their original owners drew international criticism of Germany from the U.S., France and Israel.
Mr. Gurlitt died in the presence of his doctor and caretakers, a few weeks after requesting that he return home from a Bavarian hospital where he had undergone intensive heart surgery, his spokesman said on Tuesday afternoon. The collector, who was never married and had no children, leaves no direct heir or known next of kin.
The trove included many unremarkable works on paper but also several valuable paintings. One of those, an Henri Matisse portrait that Matisse dealers say could fetch up to $20 million at auction, is being chased by the heirs of the late French art dealer Paul Rosenberg, including Anne Sinclair, a prominent journalist and ex-wife of former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
That painting and several other artworks were looted from Holocaust victims during World War II. It is unclear how the works ended up in the collection of Mr. Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand, a successful Nazi-era dealer whom Hitler had tapped to lead his unrealized Führermuseum in Linz, Austria after the war.
German authorities came under fire from major Jewish leaders, including Ronald Lauder and Israeli and American officials because the trove, though confiscated in early 2012, the was kept secret for two years–even from the Bavarian justice minister–in violation of international norms on art restitution.
At the time, Bavarian tax authorities justified the decision to keep the works’ existence a secret because of their continuing investigation into Mr. Gurlitt’s finances. The Augusburg prosecutor’s office in charge of the investigation didn’t answer calls seeking comment.
Although that investigation will lapse now that Mr. Gurlitt is dead, fresh hurdles abound, mainly surrounding a simple question: who has inherited Mr. Gurlitt’s estate?
Christopher Marinello, a lawyer for the Rosenberg heirs, says the family will continue pursuing the case, but that “we’ll have to wait for the estate process to run its course.”
It is unclear, though, whom Mr. Marinello should even contact or who will be handling the estate process.
Given Mr. Gurlitt’s perpetually frail state of health, a German court appointed Munich-based lawyer Christoph Edel as his legal guardian late last year. But Mr. Edel’s position was “voided as soon as Mr. Gurlitt died,” his spokesman, Stephan Holzinger, told The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Holzinger says he doesn’t even know if Mr. Gurlitt has a will and that his own contract will only continue for “the next few days.”
“The only guy who could give orders in [restituting art] was Mr. Edel, but now his job has ended,” said Mr. Holzinger. “The job right now is to find out what’s in the will–if there is a will.”
The lack of certainty about a finished will may in part be due to the tensions that have plagued Mr. Gurlitt’s own legal team since it came together earlier this year.
In January, The Journal reported that Mr. Gurlitt was willing to negotiate the return of works of art within the collection, but Mr. Gurlitt’s lawyer, Hannes Hartung, was fired soon afterward
Several families, including the Rosenberg heirs, complained that Mr. Hartung was unwilling to rule out a demand for monetary compensation for returning Nazi-looted art.
Last month tax authorities announced they would return Mr. Gurlitt’s artwork. Through his legal guardian, Mr. Gurlitt responded to international complaints by giving the government-appointed task force that had already been examining the provenance authority to spend a year researching it and helping arrange restitution for works that it determined were looted.
But even that task force is uncertain now with whom it should coordinate since Mr. Gurlitt is dead.
“We want to fulfill our duty to research this work as seriously as before,” said task force spokesman Matthias Henkel. “We are still working on determining with whom to speak now.”
14. Cornelius Gurlitt left his art trove–valued at around one $1.35 billion–to a Bern, Switzerland art museum. Switzerland was and is, of course, a major repository for much of the Bormann flight capital. One can but wonder if this museum has connections with the Bormann group.
Notice, also, that Gurlitt had a second residence in Salzburg, Austria. As discussed in FTR #791, the German authorities had no record of Cornelius Gurlitt. In a country where every citizen must register with the police of his or her residential area, this is unthinkable and indicative of some high-level chicanery.
German Nazi-era art hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt, who died on Tuesday, has made the Bern Art Museum in Switzerland his “sole heir”.
The reclusive son of Adolf Hitler’s art dealer is estimated to have amassed a collection worth up to a billion euros.
The museum said the news struck “like a bolt from the blue”, given that it had had no relationship with Mr Gurlitt.
The collection was the subject of a long legal dispute over works that may have been taken illegally by the Nazis.
The Bern Art Museum said that it was delighted at the news that it had been made Mr Gurlitt’s “unrestricted and unfettered sole heir”, but added that the bequest also posed some questions.
“The Board of Trustees and directors of Kunstmuseum Bern are surprised and delighted, but at the same time do not wish to conceal the fact that this magnificent bequest brings with it a considerable burden of responsibility and a wealth of questions of the most difficult and sensitive kind, and questions in particular of a legal and ethical nature”, it said in a statement.
Mr Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, was ordered to deal in works that had been seized from Jews, or which the Nazis considered “degenerate” and had removed from German museums.
The priceless collection was confiscated in 2012 by Bavarian authorities from the apartment of his son.
After initially refusing to give up the paintings, Mr Gurlitt changed his position, agreeing to co-operate with the German authorities on establishing the paintings’ provenance, and returning them if they were shown to be stolen.
Mr Gurlitt, who had no close relatives, wrote the will within the last few weeks shortly before undergoing heart surgery, according to his spokesman, Stephan Holzinger.
“It now falls to the probate court to determine if the will is valid and whether a contract of inheritance exists,” he told the BBC earlier on Wednesday.
“I can understand that there is now wild speculation, but I don’t want to comment on that at this stage.”
The German government said earlier that the collector’s death would not affect the investigation into ownerships claims on the paintings.
Mr Gurlitt’s collection only came to light after a routine check found he was carrying wads of cash on a train from Switzerland, triggering a tax inquiry.
Investigators found more than 1,400 works in his flat in Munich in February 2012 — though they only revealed the discovery in late 2013 — and a further 60 in his house near Salzburg, Austria, earlier this year.
Among them were works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Emil Nolde and Max Liebermann.
The collection is estimated to be worth up to a billion euros (£850m; $1.35bn).
Under German law, Cornelius Gurlitt was not compelled to return any paintings because the incidents happened more than 30 years ago.