A political and historical case directly linked to cultural heritage is again in the news in Italy. As the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera writes, Germany has asked Italy for the return of the Lancelot Discus, which is considered the most valuable Roman copy of lost, bronze discus thrower of Myron. It is a statue of the second century after Christ, which is located in Rome.

The request was submitted by the director of the Munich sculpture gallery, Florian Knauf, who referred, giving his own interpretation, to the historical adventure of the statue: Prince Lancelot, as the “Corriere” writes, was forced to sell the statue to Germany in 1938, at the strong desire of Adolf Hitler, who had fallen directly to Benito Mussolini. Hitler had seen the statue during his visit to the Italian capital that same year and decided that it should be part of his country’s cultural heritage. The “compulsory sale” took place, despite the contrary opinion of the then Italian Minister of Education Giuseppe Bottai and the Italian Supreme Council of Arts and Sciences. The discus player had already become one of the symbols of Nazi propaganda, with the Olympic Games in Munich, in 1936.

After the end of the war, in 1948, the Italian government managed to include Lancelot’s Discus Thrower in the list of works that had been illegally exported from the country and succeeded in bringing it back to Rome.

Now, the director of the Munich sculpture gallery, underlines that “this return to Italy, in the view of his museum and the state of Bavaria, violated the law” and that the Italian authorities had approved the transfer of the statue to Germany. Corriere della Sera, however, recalls that Germany, “as demonstrated by a recent exhibition held in Rome, illegally removed from Italy many masterpieces of art, on the orders of Hitler, Hermann Göring and other powerful names of the Nazi regime”. He is staunchly opposed to any possibility of a return, finally, and the Italian Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano, who, as reported by the Milan newspaper, is reported to have stated that for such a thing to happen “first they will have to walk over his corpse”.