A Berlin museum is celebrating the return of dozens of Byzantine artifacts, which spent years in Soviet Russia after World War Two. Some date back as far as the 4th century – yet it is their recent history that reads like a real detective story.
By the end of the war in 1945, the Byzantine collection of Berlin’s Bode Museum totaled some 6,000 objects. To save them from Soviet hands and keep them in Germany, the artifacts were divided into groups, stored in crates and spirited away.
Almost half of the hidden treasures were however found and taken to the USSR, where they stayed for over a decade.
In 1958, the gems were brought back to Germany. But instead of being identified and sent back where they belonged, they got mixed up with other artifacts and ended up in Leipzig University’s Egyptian Museum for decades.
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