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Family Unearths Stolen WWII Artifacts in Their Father’s Attic

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Family Unearths Stolen WWII Artifacts in Their Father’s Attic
Source: YouTube/FBI

Family Unearths Stolen WWII Artifacts in Their Father’s Attic

Source: YouTube/FBI

World War II (WWII) ended in 1945 after six years of war and death. During that time, many soldiers moved across the world, fighting and raiding several places, taking their historical artifacts with them. Therefore, many artificers were displaced around the world and are still being found today. 

Massachusetts Family Finds Artifacts 

Source: YouTube/FBI

What was a normal cleaning day for a Massachusetts family became a historic moment when they found 22 stolen WWII artifacts in their father’s attic while they were firing to clear it out. The family has asked to remain anonymous and does not want any publicity. However, they reached out to the authorities when they realized the historical significance of what they found. 

 

Researching the Artifacts 

Source: YouTube/FBI

At first, the family did not realize what they were looking at. However, the markings on these objects clearly showed that they were of Asian origin. Therefore, the family decided to carry out some research  to figure out what they had found. They checked the National Stolen Art File website and were shocked to see those artifacts listed as historical objects on the site. 

They Found 22 Artifacts

Source: YouTube/FBI

According to reports by the Independent, they found 22 artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries. This was also corroborated by a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Some of the twenty-two items include several portraits, some ceramics, scrolls, some pottery pieces, and a map of Okinawa drawn by hand either in the late 18th century or early 19th century. 

 

Okinawan Royalty Artifacts 

Source: YouTube/FBI

Reports also show that the items are not only from Okinawa, Japan, but most of them also depict Okinawan royalty. The portraits show the 13th King Sho Kei (1713-1751) and the 18th King Sho Iku (1835-1847), replicating the murals of the royal family. The scrolls depict Ryukyu kings and were six in number. However, some of these scrolls are believed to be part of one large scroll that was later split into three. 

ALSO READ: Oceanographers Discover Massive Dumping Ground of WWII-Era Ammunitions Off LA Coast

Did the Father Steal the Artifacts?

Source: YouTube/FBI

Experts believe that the artifacts were stolen from Okinawa, Japan. However, is is very unlikely that the original owner of the attic was the one that stole these items. This is because he wasn’t a part of the Pacific war that ran simultaneously with WWII in East Asia. Therefore, he had no way of stealing them from Japan and it is assumed that someone who participated in this war stole them and gave them to him.  

 

The National Stolen Art File Search

Source: YouTube/FBI

Thanks to the availability of the National Stolen Art File, the family was able to access the site and search for the stolen artifacts, verifying that they had historical objects in their possession. After handing them over to the FBI, the agents compared these items to the photos that they had from the mid-1940s, just after WWII ended. This confirmed that the artifacts were real.  

A Confirmatory Letter 

Source: YouTube/FBI

Making them certain beyond doubt, the FBI officials also found a letter that was typewritten and kept among the artifacts, which noted that they were stolen from Japan. Since it is linked to WWII, it is not surprising that they were stolen because many of the soldiers at that time were also treasure hunters. They stole many historical items from battle sites, taking them home as ‘souvenirs’ of their wins. 

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The Artifacts Are Important to the Okinawa People 

Source: YouTube/FBI

These artifacts are from the Ryukyu kingdom and the Okinawa people. Therefore, they want these artifacts to be returned to their rightful owners. They have historical value and also give the Okinawa people more information about their ancestors and history. In 1953, another set of Okinawa artifacts was also found in Massachusetts. This set had items like poems that dated back to the 12th century, showing their cultural roots.

Proper Procedures Were Followed

Source: YouTube/FBI

These items are important yet fragile. Therefore, the FBI outsourced experts to carry out a total check on them and package them before they sent them back to Japan. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Asian Art had the privilege of handling these items and examining them thoroughly before packing them in safe compartments to avoid damage during the trip to their home country.

ALSO READ: Oceanographers Discover Massive Dumping Ground of WWII-Era Ammunitions Off LA Coast

 

An Exciting Find 

Source: YouTube/FBI

The discovery of these historic objects has been an exciting experience for all. The family was pleased to find them and return them to their original home. The FBI and museum officials were also excited by this rare find. Since these artifacts were stolen almost 100 years ago, nobody alive in Okinawa has ever seen them, causing more excitement for the people of Okinawa.

Many Artifacts Have Not Been Found Yet

Source: YouTube/FBI

Sadly, even with the return of these twenty-two artifacts, many of the items taken from Okinawa are still missing. Most of the other missing pieces are registered on the National Stolen Art File website, which is available to anyone at any time. Many other portraits and a royal crown are still yet to be found. These items are possibly scattered across the world, waiting to be discovered. 

 

A Repatriation Ceremony Took Place 

Source: YouTube/FBI

In April, the treasured artifacts reached Okinawa, Japan. On Tuesday, April 30th, the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum held an official repatriation in the city’s capital, Naha. This repatriation ceremony celebrated the return of their beloved artifacts to their homeland and rightful owners. They intend to keep them there forever and also find the rest of their missing artifacts in the future. 

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