Six medieval stained-glass windowpanes looted by the Red Army during World War II were returned to a German church Monday, where officials said they hoped to negotiate the return of other plundered artworks.
The windows complete a 117-panel set that depicts the Bible in pictures. The 14th-century panels will be restored and reinstalled at the Marienkirche, a church near Germany's border with Poland.
Russian lawmakers voted earlier this year to return the looted art – a decision Germany hopes could lead to negotiations for other works plundered during the conflict.
“Small steps are better than no steps,” German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann said at a celebration of the artwork's return.
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The panels were removed from the Marienkirche during the war to protect the priceless windows from wartime bombing. They were put into storage in the basement of a palace in Potsdam. Soviet soldiers seized them in the final days of the war and sent the windows home to Russia.
The first 111 panels, held for decades at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, were returned in 2002 for the 750th anniversary of the church, which is older than the windows. But the six panels returned Monday, including depictions of Adam and Eve and Noah and the ark, were not among them. In 2002, a Russian art historian found them in storage outside Moscow under the jurisdiction of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.