Significant Restitutions

1993 – Almost 50 years later, the Quedlinburg Treasure goes back home

On April 19, 1945, American troops occupied Quedlinburg, south-west of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. They were ordered to guard some treasures of art secured in a mine near the castle Altenburg. The treasures included medieval artworks and manuscripts (among them being Gospel of Samuel and the Crystals of Costantinople) belonging to the town’s church.

U.S. Lieutenant Joe Tom Meador was responsible for the security of the cave. With a good knowledge of art, Meador immediately understood the importance of the treasure and managed to take the items away from the cave hiding them under his coat. He mailed the artworks home, to Whitewright, Texas, and had them placed in a safe at the city’s First National Bank.

Meador died in 1980, and his heirs tried to sell ten pieces of looted treasure on the international art market. In 1990, a Bavarian art dealer sold to West Germany’s Cultural Foundation of the State a ninth-century manuscript of the Four Gospels in a gold and silver binding it was immediately identified as part of the Quedlinburg Treasure. Other manuscripts surfaced in the following months.

After a long search and judicial processes, the art was returned to Germany in 1992. The recovered treasures were exhibited in Munich and Berlin, and in 1993, they were finally returned to Quedlinburg. However, two of the pieces stolen by Meador are still in the United States at an unknown location.