Skip to main content

Erna Eichmann

(1903 Salzuflen -1978 Cape Town)

The book 'Jüdische Sagen und Legenden' by Bernhard Kuttner (1904) contains several references to previous owners. Not only can the last legal owner be identified, but an approximate reconstruction of the confiscation is also possible.

There is a handwritten dedication on the front endpaper:

Dieses Buch erhält als Anerkennung

die Schülerin

Erna Eichmann

für steten Fleiß, gute Leistungen

und als Ansporn zu künftiger


Albert Wesel


Schötmar Salzuflen, den 16. März 1913.

 [This book will be awarded to the student Erna Eichmann for constant diligence, good performance and as an inducement for future work. Albert Wesel, Teacher of Religion, Schötmar Salzuflen, March 16, 1913.]

Erna Eichmann was born in Salzuflen in 1903 as the daughter of Bertha Eichmann, née Grünewald, and the manufacturer Julius Eichmann. Together with her future husband Eitel Hamlet from Gütersloh and her parents she emigrated to South Africa in February 1937. She died childless in Cape Town in 1978.

The dedicatee Albert Wesel is presumably the cantor and teacher born in Breslau in 1880. Apparently Bad Salzuflen was one of his professional stations. In 1939 he emigrated to Shanghai where he worked as a Hebrew teacher. In 1947 he moved to the USA and died there in 1964 - only a few kilometres away from the address to which we sent the book signed by him.

A label in the book suggests that Albert Wesel (?) acquired it in Berlin: C. Boas Nachf. Buchhandlung Berlin C. Neue Friedrichstr. 69, Ecke Klosterstr. 2/12

When she fled to South Africa, Erna Eichmann left the book behind. We don't know exactly when it was confiscated. In 1942, at any rate, it was placed in the Lippische Landesbibliothek together with many other looted books in the so-called 'Zeitgeschichtliche Sammlung'. This is indicated by the stamp, the entry number and possibly also a shelf mark (J 5). To protect it from the air raids of the Allies, the 'Zeitgeschichtliche Sammlung' was stored in a salt dome in 1944. Documents from 1954 prove that the Lippische Landesbibliothek had transferred book holdings to the Jewish Trust Corporation. Mentioned here are books from expropriated Jewish institutions, but we can assume that there were also books from private collections. Obviously, these were then distributed to the Jewish Westphalian communities that still existed or had been reestablished. Since the book was contained in the estate of the (since 1963) Westphalian state rabbi Emil Davidovic, it seems possible that he had taken it from one of the community libraries. In some cases we can assume that Davidovic knew the owners of books or their descendants. The question whether he himself planned to return them must unfortunately remain unanswered.


For their assistance in identifying Erna Eichmann and finding the heirs, we would like to thank Mr. Arnold Beuke, M.A., City Archivist of Bad Salzuflen, Ms. Mundt of the (german) Federal Office for Central Services and Unsettled Property Issues and Anne Webber of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe.

Selected Sources

Registration cards of Erna Eichmann and her parents, city archive Bad Salzuflen

Pilzer Harald: Die Lippische Landesbibliothek als nationalsozialistische Weltanschauungsbücherei, in: Nationalsozialismus in Detmold, published by the city of Detmold, edited by Hermann Niebuhr, Bielefeld 1998, S. 503-527.

Rülf, Moritz: Stammbaum der Familie Eichmann. 1660-1931, Detmold [1931].

Ruppert, Egmar: Familie Eichmann Detmold 1730-1875. Quellendokumentation (initiated by Franz Meyer), city archive Bad Salzuflen, Manuskripte Nr. 341, 2001.

Link to the book in the database Looted Cultural Assets.

(Text: Ph. Zschommler)