Restitution begins in a small Czech town on the eve of the Nazi invasion. The Reesers are Jewish and know that they must flee, but before leaving they deliver four valuable oil paintings into the hands of a business partner for safekeeping. Led by the intrepid matriarch of the family, Marie Reeser, they make their escape under the nose of the occupying Nazis, arriving in Canada just days before the start of WWII.
Marie and her family could never forget their paintings, but were forced to abandon their attempts to retrieve them when the Communists seized power. Years later, in 1989, a letter arrived at the Toronto home of Marie's son, Karl Reeser, saying that the paintings could be found in a private home in Prague. This ignited the final stage of the saga, as Karl set out to fulfill his mother's dream of returning the paintings to their family.
Karl would find help with his mission from two unlikely sources--a mid-level diplomat at the Canadian embassy in Prague, and a daring Dutch-Canadian art smuggler. From sneaking the paintings into the Canadian embassy in the dead of night to rolling them up and shipping them passed the Communist authorities, all three men went to great lengths, and some risk, to help bring the paintings home. In Restitution Kathy Kacer tells this true story of a family's quest in compelling detail, the story fleshed out with the Reeser family's pictures and documents. Karl Reeser, now in his 80s, still lives in Toronto where he proudly displays two of the paintings, while the other two are in the Toronto home of his sister, Hana. The paintings are a reminder of what was lost in the Holocaust, but also what wasn't lost--the strength and determination of their family.