Plunder: Art Theft in World War II Vienna

Hollywood films have the ability to take one person’s story and make it feel personal and universal. In Simon Curtis’ "Woman in Gold," based on the life of Maria Altman, we experience a woman’s struggle to reclaim a piece of art that rightfully belonged to her family. Between the years of 1933 and 1945, hundreds of thousands of priceless pieces of art, religious treasures and other items of personal and cultural significance were looted or destroyed by the Nazi Party of Germany. During World War II, and in the decades following, the Allied armies tried to recover and reinstate the stolen treasures of Europe. Today, more than 70 years since the end of World War II, Jewish families are still trying to track down their looted possessions. On this seven-day expedition, uncover the history, drama and tragedy of art theft in World War II Vienna. Visit the top museums of Vienna to understand how the city came to be a center for art and culture in the 20th century, walk in the footsteps of Vienna’s Jews before and after the war, and speak with top experts in the art field to learn about the complicated issues surrounding art law and restitution.

Nov 6-12, 2018

7 Days

6 Nights

Vienna, Austria


Art & Design

7 Days, 6 Nights

Trip Cost, Per Traveler

$6,295 double occupancy
(Single supplement: $1,100)
$500 Deposit
or Call 855.890.5298
Phone Hours - M-F, 7AM – 5PM PT
Print Itinerary
Expedition Highlights
Visit the Schloss Belvedere, home to the world’s largest Klimt collection.
Enjoy a private tour and reception at the Albertina Museum, which houses one of the most important print collections in the world.
Meet with an expert in art insurance to understand the complicated legal issues surrounding art restitution.
Our Expedition Experts
Jessica Gelt - LA Expeditions Expert

Jessica Gelt

Los Angeles Times arts and culture writer.

Day 1

Arrive in Vienna

Arrive in Austria's capital, and transfer to the hotel, located on the Ringstraße. After checking in, enjoy a welcome reception and dinner. (R,D)

Day 2

The History of Art in Vienna

Begin your exploration of Vienna by first understanding the history of art in this magnificent city. Understand how Vienna came to be the center for art and culture in pre-World War II Europe. Start with a guided tour of the Kunsthistorisches Museum to learn about the history of art in Vienna. Enjoy a traditional Viennese lunch at a local Kaffehaus, where many of Vienna’s top artists dined throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. End the day with a lecture on the importance of Vienna’s art scene. Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure. (B,L)

Day 3

Jewish Life: Pre-1938

Before 1938, Vienna was home to almost 200,000 Jews and served as an important hub of Jewish education and culture. Explore what life was like for a Jewish family before Nazi occupation as you take a guided walking tour through the former Jewish quarter of Vienna. Stop at the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial, also known as the Nameless Library, which commemorates more than 65,000 Austrian Jews killed by the Nazis between 1938 and 1945. Enjoy lunch at a classic Austrian-Jewish deli. Then visit the Jüdisches Museum Wien for an expert-led tour through the museum’s permanent exhibition highlighting the history of Jews in Vienna. End the day with a visit to the Arnold Schönberg Center for a lecture on Jewish life before WWII. Tonight, have dinner as a group at a local restaurant. Option to enjoy a performance at one of Vienna’s premier theaters (ticket fees apply). (B,L,D)

Day 4

Vienna Under Siege

In March 1938, Adolf Hitler announced an Anschluss, or union, between Germany and Austria, beginning the formal German occupation of Austria and the persecution of Austrian Jews. On a continued walking tour through Vienna, learn how life for Vienna’s Jews dramatically changed through this period. Visit the Vienna Museum for a guided tour of the permanent exhibition “Vienna Around 1900,” which displays famous paintings by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Arnold Schönberg. Then attend a lecture by a historian to hear stories about the artists, musicians, scholars and academics who fled Austria and those less fortunate who stayed behind. This evening, visit the Albertina museum, which houses one of the most important print collections in the world, after it is closed to the general public. Enjoy a cocktail reception, and tour of the museum’s impressive collection. (B,R)

Day 5

Nazi Plunder

With an understanding of the atmosphere in Vienna during the late 1930s, delve deeper to understand how the lives and possessions of Vienna’s Jews were threatened and destroyed by the Nazis. Enjoy a guided tour of the opulent Schloss Belvedere. Constructed for Prince Eugene of Savoy, the two exquisite palaces on the Belvedere grounds have housed generations of Austrian royalty, but today they serve as an art museum. The Upper Belvedere features the world’s largest Klimt collection, among which you will find both “The Kiss” and “Judith.” Continue to the Leopold Museum, which houses one of the most important collections of Viennese Secessionist masterpieces. Meet with a curator of the permanent exhibition “Vienna 1900.” Discuss how the Leopold Museum is conducting provenance research to identify artwork that was looted or obtained illegally during WWII. Dine this evening with an art insurer to discuss the complicated issue of ownership with stolen artwork. (B,D)

Day 6

The Long Road of Restitution

For your last full day in Vienna, discuss how Austria and various museums have handled restitution cases. With a visit to the Archives of the Austrian Resistance, learn about the projects created to help with the welfare, restitution and compensation for victims of the Holocaust. Then visit Mumok, Vienna’s museum of modern art, to discover how the city is reviving local art. End the day with a meeting with a representative from the IKG Department of Restitution to learn about specific restitution cases and the ongoing effort to bring closure to families. This evening, gather for a farewell reception and dinner at a local restaurant. (B,R,D)