The fight against ‘thou murdered and also inherited’

By Eliahu Salpeter

Fritz Tugendhat, a Jewish textile industrialist from the Czech city Brno, had a developed sense for the arts. In 1928, the great architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe built him a modernist villa, where Tugendhat and his family lived until escaping in 1938 before the German occupation. The house, nationalized by the Nazis as “Jewish property” and later by the communists as “Nazi property,” is today owned by the Brno municipality, and 15,000 people visit it every year. In 2001 it was even declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tugendhat’s daughter has been fighting for many years to win back the building, but the Brno municipality refuses. Since the city has not allocated a budget to renovate and maintain the structure, its condition is deteriorating.