In publica commoda

Nazi-looted books handed over to original owners

07.08.2013

The SUB Göttingen returns 38 books to the University Library of Poznan

(pug) The Göttingen State and University Library (SUB) has repatriated back to the University Library of Poznan 38 books that had belonged to Göttingen Library under the National Socialists. Between years 1941 and 1943, the books, bearing the imprint of the University Library of Poznan, had been transferred to Göttingen by the German Reich Exchange Centre (Reichstauschstelle) and the Emergency Foundation for German Science from areas occupied by the German Wehrmacht. During a project to trace Nazi loot, the SUB discovered the books in its collection and has now returned them to their rightful owners.

The 38 books primarily consist of scientific textbooks and shorter contemporary pieces of literature from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Their thematic spectrum ranges from an official publication by the League of Nations about the healthcare system in Australia dated 1926 to an English guide on Greek constitutional history from the year 1896. "We were very surprised to hear from the Göttingen Library that books from our collection were in their possession. We thank the library for restitution of these volumes," states the Assistant Director of the University Library of Poznan, Aleksander Gniot. "We are very pleased that we could repatriate these books to our colleagues in Poznan. Our objective is to restitute to their rightful owners as many Nazi-looted books from our inventory as possible," explains SUB Director Dr. Norbert Lossau. As early as April of 2011, the SUB had turned over to the Friedrich Ebert Foundation 72 books by the SPD politician Dr. Heinrich Troeger.

Between 2009 and 2011, the SUB headed a project to track down any Nazi loot in its collection with the support of the Post for Provenance Research and Investigation at the Institute for Museum Research at the National Museums in Berlin – Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage. During the project, approximately 1,100 books were discovered to be unequivocal or suspected cases of Nazi looting. Every one of these cases was reported to the "Lost Art" database of the Coordinating Centre for Lost Cultural Assets and can also be researched in the Göttingen University Catalogue. Although the project has been concluded, the SUB is continuing its efforts to restore illegally acquired books to their rightful owners. For further information about this project, go to www.sub.uni-goettingen.de/wir-ueber-uns/portrait/geschichte.