This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.
Among relentless bad news these days comes this tidbit of good news: The state of California has taken a small step to right a monumental historic wrong.
California is returning three paintings hanging at Hearst Castle that once were the property of a Jewish couple forced to flee Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Nazi authorities sold the art businesses and artworks owned by Rosa and Jakob Oppenheimer in forced auctions in 1935.
These seizures marked the beginnings of what would lead to Adolf Hitler's "final solution of the Jewish question" – mass killings of the Jews of Europe.
Jakob Oppenheimer died in poverty in France in 1941. Rosa was later deported from Nazi-occupied France to Auschwitz, the largest of Nazi Germany's extermination camps. She was killed there in 1943.
The Oppenheimers and their three children are gone, but six grandchildren remain. Two were on hand at the Stanford Mansion on Friday to be reunited with their grandparents' paintings. Peter Bloch, a grandson, lives in Florida, and Inge Blackshear, a granddaughter, lives in Argentina.
They said their parents escaped Europe in 1940 on the last Jewish refugee ship leaving Europe that was allowed to dock in the United States and Argentina. Ships that followed were turned back.
Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst bought the three 16th century Venetian paintings in 1935 from a German gallery – unaware that the paintings had been plundered by the Nazis. The paintings have hung at Hearst Castle ever since.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a native of Austria, handed over the paintings to the family on behalf of California's people.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.