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Breaking: Germans return seized Guarnerius to distressed owner

Reports from Japan say that the German customs authorities have decided to return the precious Guarnerius violin they confiscated last month at Frankfurt airport from a transfer passenger, Yuzuko Horigome.

Customs officials had insisted she pay a crippling  fine of 380,000 Euros – almost half a million dollars. But political and other interventions softened their stance and Ms Horigome is expected to receive her instrument back within days. ”The violin will come back to me safely thanks to the help of many people. I am so glad,” Ms Horigome said.

It is to be hoped that the violin has been maintained at the right temperature. It remains a matter of concern that an over-zealous customs official in a music-loving EU country could deprive a violinist of the right to exercise her art and her profession for a whole month. Ms Horigome deserves, at the very least, an official apology.


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  1. José Bergher says:

    Good thing those looters gave back the violin. Imagine how many other objects those bastards confiscated in Hitler’s era and will never give back.

    • Emil Archambault says:

      You of course know the difference between Nazi Germany and Modern-day Germany, right?

      • José Bergher says:

        I could not help bring in the subject of the German government’s responsibility for returning stolen property to the owners or to their survivors, whether the confiscations and looting took place in 1933-1945 or in 2012. There were plenty of books, art works, musical instruments, houses, apartments, furniture, that were never returned. Of course, this subject does not apply only to Germany but to other European countries as well: Austria, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Norway, France, Poland, Hungary, and the so-called neutral countries during the Second World War (Switzerland, Spain, Turkey, Sweden). Read “Pack of Thieves,” by Richard Z. Chesnoff. London: Weidenfeld & Nichols, 1999.

        • And in 1945 after their victory, the Russkies and the Americans looted as well, until today many pieces of art and jewelry are in possession of the heirs of the American and Soviet looters. A big looting party, that WWII was.

    • Now what would this thread be without mentioning Hitler. Thank you for your wisdom, José.

  2. Paul D. Sullivan, Arlington/Boston US says:

    Well, thank goodness it’s over. Hopefully the Guarnerius survived it’s unplanned visit to Germany OK.

    • Terry van Vliet says:

      From the sublime to the absurd: on my way to the Mahler Festival in Leipzig a customs official at the Munich airport seized a litre bottle of whiskey because it was not in the “correct plastic bag” despite my having a receipt. One wonders, indeed, how may other objects, as Jose suggests, will never be given back. I did rather enjoy my fantasy (or was it?) of officious German customs officials having a drink on me, however.

  3. Tobias Seyb says:

    Already the 1st comment brings up Hitler.
    Is this really 2012???

  4. I bet the Guarnerius would rather be cradelled by the softness of a woman than by the gruff uniform of a German custom’s officer. Why was it seized in the first place? Short of entertainment at the upcoming custom’s ball, was it? Or maybe they needed a suitable case to carry some mechanical hardware!

  5. I think, Hitler should be followed by Wagner. No, he should be preceded by Wagner and then followed by “German border guards”.

  6. Michael Bosworth says:

    According to reports on the TV Channel NHK World (which we receive here in Hanoi), Ms. Horigome had repeatedly been asked to submit certain ‘paperwork’ by the German customs authorities. According to these Japanese reports she eventually did file the requested documents.

    • That’s what I think. But wouldn’t we spoil the Germano-phobic hate fest of the usual suspects here, if it was that simple? German customs seizes undocumented violin. Returns item, after proper documentation is provided. That’s boring. And what about Hitler!!! :)

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