Family's Nazi past threatens art museum plans in Zurich

The Zurich warehouse which Friedrich-Christian Flick wants to convert into a museum of modern and contemporary art Keystone

Plans by a German billionaire to open a museum of modern and contemporary art in Zurich have been called into question because of his family's links to the Nazis.

This content was published on March 19, 2001 - 12:18

The Flick family's involvement with the Nazis was brought to public attention by the Swiss weekly, the "Wochenzeitung", after Friedrich-Christian Flick announced plans to convert a former warehouse in Zurich into a museum.

Flick, a Swiss resident for nearly 30 years, is a grandson of the late Friedrich Flick, who headed one of Germany's biggest industrial concerns during the Second World War.

The elder Flick's companies supplied arms to the Nazi war effort and at the Nuremburg trials he was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for using slave labour and plundering occupied territories.

Flick was released before serving his full prison term and went on to become one of Germany's wealthiest men. But his companies never paid compensation to the former slave labourers.

They also did not participate in a $4.8 billion compensation fund set up by 6,000 German companies, which used slave labour during the Nazi era.

Friedrich-Christian Flick now wants to set up to become a permanent home for his collection of some 2,500 works of modern and contemporary art - one of the world's top private collections.

Several leading cultural figures - including the director of the municipal theatre - have spoke out against the plan, saying it is undesirable that the collection be exhibited in Switzerland because the Flick family has not compensated the slave labourers.

The matter has now been tabled for discussion by the city parliament.

Friedrich-Christian Flick is 56 -too young to have had any responsibility for the activities of his grandfather. He severed his connections with the family businesses in the 1960s and has since then concentrated on building up his art collection, which is currently kept at a secret location in Zurich.


In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Share this story

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?