BERLIN (AP) – A commission in Germany has ruled that a painting by the expressionist Erich Heckel, which is in a German art museum, was likely illegally preserved under the Nazis and should be returned to the heirs of a Jewish historian who once belonged to it Tuesday.

Heckel’s “siblings” were owned by the Jewish historian Max Fischer until 1934, a year before he fled Germany to avoid persecution by the Nazis, according to the Baden-Württemberg State Commission for National Socialist Looted Art.

The oil painting from 1913 ended with Heckel and was donated in 1967 by the artist of the Kunsthalle Karlsruhe.

The State Commission said it could not be determined when and under what circumstances Heckel came into possession of the piece between January 1934 and January 1944.

However, the commission said that given the circumstances, it could be assumed that Fischer, who immigrated to the United States, lost possession of the painting as a result of Nazi persecution. It ordered the work of art to be returned to its heirs.

The heirs, who have not been identified, have announced that they will donate the painting to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the commission said.

Heckel, founding member of the group of expressionist artists Die Brücke, died in 1970.

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