FBI Helps Return 75 Paintings by World War II Resistance Fighter to Poland

A painting by Hanna Weynerowska. Photo: via artnation.pl.
A painting by Hanna Weynerowska. Photo: via artnation.pl.

An FBI investigation has turned up 78 paintings by Polish artist Hanna Weynerowska, missing since her death in 1998, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Although Weynerowska had bequeathed her work to a Polish government museum in Switzerland, her family members never fulfilled her wishes.

Nicknamed “Kali,” after the Hindu goddess of time, change, and destruction, Weynerowska was a Polish resistance fighter during World War Two. In 1944 she was captured and sent to a Nazi concentration camp, which she somehow managed to escape. In 1953, she moved to San Francisco, where she spent the rest of her life.

The Polish government enlisted the help of the FBI in tracking down her missing work, and 75 canvases were recovered in a Santa Rosa storage facility. One of Weynerowska’s male relatives turned over the paintings voluntarily, and will not be prosecuted. An FBI official speculated that her family kept the art due to high shipping costs and “emotional attachment.”

The pointillist paintings, worth roughly $12,000 each, hold great significance for the people of Poland. “They are priceless emotionally… very important to the legacy of Polish excellence,” said Caria Tomczykowska, an envoy of the Polish Consulate in Los Angeles, in a press conference.

Last week, the paintings were given to the museum in Rapperswil, Switzerland. Polish and US officials will hold a an official ceremony of restitution on June 16.


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