MILAN (AP) – Italy’s culture minister says he is rejecting a request by the German State Antiquities Collection in Munich to return an ancient Roman statue bearing Hitler’s Aryan decorations, calling it a national treasure.
The Discobolus Palombara is a 2nd Century Roman copy of a long-lost Greek bronze. Hitler bought the Roman manuscript from an Italian owner in 1938 under pressure from Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and against the wishes of the education minister and cultural authorities. The statue, which was excavated from a Roman building in 1781, was returned to Italy in 1948 as part of the Nazis’ illegal acquisition of the statue.
The dispute arose when the head of the National Roman Museum requested the return of a 17th Century marble statue from the Antikensammlungen state museum. A German museum instead requested the return of the Discobolus Palombara, saying it was sent to Italy in 1948, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported on Friday.
Italy’s culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, doubted that Germany’s culture minister, Claudia Roth, was aware of Bavaria’s request.
“On my dead body. The work must remain in Italy because it is a national treasure,” Sangiuliano was quoted as saying by Corriere, adding that he hoped the foundation would be returned.
The Ministry of Culture did not immediately respond to a request for comment.