Friday, October 24, 2008

Looted Books

Der Spiegel has an interesting two part article about books looted in the run up to and during the Second World War. LINK
The records indicate that the city library purchased "more than 40,000 volumes from the private libraries of evacuated Jews" through this office. And, this being Germany, the librarians maintained meticulous record books to keep track of their purchases -- even though parts of the German capital were already in ruins. As always, preserving order was paramount. The librarians signed each volume and gave it an accession number, beginning with the letter J.
The book thieves were able to expand their range of operations considerably after the war began. German occupiers in Eastern Europe raided 375 archives, 957 libraries, 402 museums and 531 research and educational institutions. They were also active in France, as the odyssey of sheet music once owned by the pianist Arthur Rubinstein shows. The history of the copies and prints of these works of various composers, some with personal dedications, mirrors the catastrophes of the 20th century.
Worth reading the whole thing just to keep things in perspective.

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