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During the Second World War, along with objects from the Dresden Porcelain Collection, the Gustav von Klemperer Porcelain Collection – after being seized by the Gestapo in 1938 and in January 1943 transferred free of charge into the ownership of the state of Saxony – was evacuated for safe keeping to locations outside the city. Initially, the Klemperer Collection was taken to Schloss Rammenau between Dresden and Bautzen. In the first months of 1945, however, the advance of Soviet troops made it necessary for the objects to be moved once again.

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In the course of this second transport, the 24 crates containing the Klemperer Collection were removed from Schloss Rammenau and taken to a number of different storage sites.

On the way to one of the new sites, a lorry carrying a number of crates of porcelain from the Klemperer Collection made an intermediate stop in the courtyard of the Dresden Residence. During the air raids of the night of 13/14 February, the lorry and its entire contents were destroyed.

It was not until 1953 that a number of fragments or shards of individual objects from the Klemperer Collection were recovered from the rubble in the palace courtyard.

© SLUB Dresden, Deutsche Fotothek, Walter Möbius
Royal Palace Dresden, 1947 Ruin of the north wing seen from the Great Courtyard

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On 16 March 1945, numerous further wooden crates filled with precious porcelain objects from the Klemperer Collection were taken to Schloss Rothschönberg at Klipphausen in the rural district of Meissen, some 30 kilometres west of Dresden, where the storage crates were kept in a room on the first floor.

© SLUB Dresden, Deutsche Fotothek, Paul Schulz
Rothschönberg Castle, September 1947 View from the southwest

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On 4 April 1945, a few crates with porcelain from the Klemperer Collection were moved from Rammenau to Schloss Reichstädt, near Dippoldiswalde some 30 kilometres south of Dresden. The items moved there for safe keeping were stored in the slaughterhouse located in the castle courtyard and in an adjacent room.  

After the end of the war, art works stored outside Dresden gradually returned to the Saxon capital and its museums. Nevertheless, there had been severe losses: hostilities, plundering and wanton destruction had decimated the holdings evacuated for safe keeping.

© SLUB Dresden, Deutsche Fotothek, Max Nowak
Reichstädt Castle, around 1930 East tower with passage to the church

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This was also true of the porcelain collection looted from the von Klemperer family in 1938. Objects from the collection that had survived the war and its ravages found their way – partially without their true provenance being recognized – into the holdings of the Dresden Porcelain Collection.

The reconstructed Gustav von Klemperer Collection consists of 929 items, amongst which are a number of tableware items consisting of two or more parts (chocolate beaker and saucer, for example, or cream pot with cover and stand).

In order to establish the number of lost pieces, the total number of 929 items was reduced by those restituted in 1991 and 2010 and those returned to the von Klemperer family by other parties. Furthermore, of the items consisting of two or more parts, those had to be identified that were not completely preserved, the typical case being that of one part being extant and the other lost.

Finally, a list emerged amounting to exactly 614 items lost, which were registered at the Lost Art Database in the name of the ‘Klemperer community of heirs’ (‘Erbengemeinschaft Klemperer’), with detailed information concerning the paths of loss.

Select examples from the losses


The overall list of the losses from the Gustav von Klemperer Porcelain Collection runs to 614 items, which have been made public in the Lost Art Databank.

The losses in the Lost Art Databank

© Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Porzellansammlung
»Beltrame und Colombina« Porzellansammlung Gustav von Klemperer, Dresden 1928, Tafel 59, Nr. 548
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