The Oscar winning actress Dame Helen Mirren has testified before a US Senate committee to highlight the slow pace of restitution of Nazi looted art.
The star of Woman in Gold recently portrayed the struggle of a Jewish woman, Maria Altmann, to reclaim a painting by Gustav Klimt confiscated by the Third Reich .
Dame Helen said that 70 years after World War Two, it was “a terribly sad fact that victims of the Holocaust and their families are still contemplating whether to seek restitution for what was stolen from them and lost under the most horrible of circumstances”.
She said the lives of “so many people” could be “rejuvenated through the actions and the leadership of the US Congress to ensure that fair and equitable solutions in these cases are assured”.
“But a lack of transparency, a lack of access to information concerning the location of stolen art and a lack of a legal assurance that at least they can have their say in court – this discourages them from taking action,” she added.
“The very act of Nazi expropriation was not only unjust but it was unconscionably inhumane. We are incapable of changing the past but fortunately we have the ability to make change today.”
Dame Helen ended her testimony by thanking the Senate for “your leadership and your efforts to address these issues in these modest reforms contained in the Hear Act”.
“By ensuring that at least here, in the United States, access to justice and the courts will be ensured”.