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Despite receiving reinforcements, the Swedes were stuck on their side of the river in November when news of the Peace of Westphalia reached the city.
Today, in fact, its pages represent nearly half of all surviving examples of the Gothic language.
Five years ago, Japan returned a Korean monument on the centennial of its theft during the Russo-Japanese War; three years before that, Italy returned a 3,000-year-old obelisk taken during Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia.
But more often than not, the plunder has remained with the plunderer, despite near universal condemnation of the practice by some current belligerents. Gallen lobbied for years to force Zurich canton to return a 16th-century wooden globe seized in a 1712 invasion, but in 2006 had to settle for a replica.
Returning plunder to its rightful owner may sound straightforward, but in practice it is extremely difficult, particularly for objects seized in the distant past.
Who the “rightful” owner is seems to depend largely on your point of view.The Swedes have at this point possessed the book six times longer than anyone in Prague ever did, so it is not surprising that they don’t feel compelled to hand it over.