Claims Conference Online Publication of Belgium's Library Seizures Stolen by Nazis #holocaust #announcements
Jan Meisels Allen
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) announced the publication of Documenting Nazi Library Plunder in Occupied Belgium and Limited Postwar Retrieval. The publication features data about Belgian library collections stolen by the Nazis during World War II. Information about the contents of those collections is now available in digital format online for the first time. The library materials were taken from victims of the Holocaust more than 75 years ago by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR)—the Nazi agency organized by Hitler’s ideological spokesman, Alfred Rosenberg. During its operations, the ERR deliberately and methodically identified private libraries of individuals and institutions that contained important cultural and historical knowledge, and plundered materials that were curated over many careers and lifetimes. From August 1940 to February 1943, the ERR conducted 150 library seizure operations across Belgium that included an estimated 250,000 – 300,000 volumes of books.
It’s a two-part publication and includes ERR wartime library seizure lists which document the looted collections’ content extensive charts naming all the victims, and combined data regarding the 150 ERR seizure operations.
The publication focuses on the private libraries in Belgium filled with collections of cultural knowledge that were confiscated from Jews, Masons, political elite, liberal professors, labor and socialist sources, and more, often with considerable archived materials (and sometimes art) that were shipped to Germany between the fall of 1940 and the summer of 1944. Large portions of the combined library loot were shipped to the former Soviet Union, where they remain today. Other portions were dispersed throughout Eastern Europe.
Part 1 of the publication, now issued online, is based on the ERR Belgian office files that surfaced in Kyiv in the 1990s, long hidden in Ukraine as part of the most extensive surviving collection of ERR records from Europe.
Part two focuses on the repatriation of libraries to Belgium after they were retrieved by Allied forces. Some were nationalized and sent to other countries, while others are featured in state or national libraries in Russian and Belarus - some dedicated to the Holocaust victims they were taken from.
The links for aforementioned may be obtained by going to: https://www.errproject.org/looted_libraries_be.php
To read more see:
Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee