JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Hunt for Millions of Books Stolen By Nazis #general


Jan Meisels Allen
 

Similar to art looting by the Nazis, millions of books were also stolen by
Nazis during World War ll. The search for books has recently intensified
driven by researchers in America and Europe who have developed a road map
to track the stolen books. Some were hiding in plain sight on library
shelves. This will be a monumental task. In Germany, the Central and
Regional Library suspect that one-third of the 3.5 million books have been
looted by the Nazis. Many of the looted books were recovered after the war
ended up in a depot outside Frankfurt, Germany , the Offenbach Archival
Depot, where the US Army "Monuments Men" attempted to process them for
return-mostly to the countries of origin. The director of the depot arranged
for the books stolen >from a "prominent European Yiddish organization in
Vilna", to be shipped to New York City where they are now at YIVO. Other
books reside in Russia which has been resistant to efforts to have the books
returned.

Libraries in Germany have returned 15,000 books. However, many which were
marked with a "J" for Judenbucher-Jewish books were changed following the
war to G for Geshenk for gifts. The German Lost Art Foundation publishes
descriptions of books with photos when their owners cannot be located See:
https://www.kulturgutverluste.de/Webs/EN/Start/Index.html Click on menu bar
and then go to databases. Austrian libraries have returned 15,000 books.

Over the past ten years in Germany and Austria the libraries have returned
30,000 books to 600 owners, heirs and institutions. As an example of the
wealth of these books, last year the University of Potsdam library returned
a 16th century volume to the family of its owner -the owner was murdered in
a concentration camp. The book explained the fundamentals of the Torah's 613
commandments.

A preeminent expert >from the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard
discovered ten lists of looted items >from French libraries by the
Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), a task force headed by the Nazi
ideologue Alfred Rosenberg. The ERR took over 6,000 books >from libraries
and archives all over Europe. Hundreds of thousands of records >from the task
force have been posted to a website located at:
https://www.errproject.org/guide.php . This is funded by the Claims
Conference. The National Library of Israel has helped in cataloging and
identifying the books stolen >from Croatia and made the lists accessible to
those who speak Hebrew, Ladino, Yiddish and more.

To read the New York Times article on this see:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/arts/nazi-loot-on-library-shelves.html

Thank you to Phil Goldfarb, President JGS Tulsa for sharing with us the
information on the New York Times article .

Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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