Jüdische Schülerbibliothek Pilsen / Jewish School Library Pilsen
As early as the end of the 1870s, the rabbi and educator Dr. Adolf Kurrein established the first Jewish school library in the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in Linz. Since then he propagated the establishment of such libraries - not only as a supplement to Israelite religious education, but also to "teach about Jewish life, Jewish history and literature, Jewish past and present". We can assume that Zionist motives were also a driving force behind the idea.
In addition to Teplitz-Schönau and other Bohemian towns, a Jewish school library was also established in Pilsen, whose stamps can be found in a total of 8 books in the library of the FU Berlin and the Heidelberg Hochschule für Jüdische Studien.
As a non-profit institution, the Pilsen school library was dependent on donations. The Pilsen Lodge "Union" (founded in 1892) of the Order B'nai B'rith is known to have sponsored the library.
The dissolution of Jewish institutions in the "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia" was carried out step by step. In July 1939, Reich Protector Neurath demanded the registration of all Jewish associations, foundations and association-like organisations. Since 5 March 1940 these were bound by the instructions of the Prague Jewish Community and had to transfer all their assets to it. The Prague Jewish Community administered all Jewish forced organisations on behalf of the "Central Office for Jewish Emigration" („Zentralstelle für Jüdische Auswanderung“) until their (partly "voluntary") dissolution. This also applied to the Jewish School Library in Pilsen, even though the exact date of liquidation is currently not available. The majority of the looted books in the Protectorate were taken to Theresienstadt and/or Prague.
Some of the identified books contain erased accession numbers, some of which are still legible. We find these numbers and titles again on the transfer records of the Prague "Jewish Central Museum", to which they were transferred by the "Trusteeship Office" ("Treuhandstelle") in August and November 1944. They survived the end of the war in the museum. In the case of the Heidelberg books, it was Rabbi Emil Davidovic who had brought books from the museum to the Federal Republic in the 1960s; in the case of the FU Berlin, the exact circumstances of the accession are unclear.
At the end of July 2021, the FU Berlin and the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg jointly restituted the collection to the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic.
Books from the holdings of the library of the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg:
Kellner, Leon: Jüdische Weihestunden, Czernowitz 1914
Lehmann, Marcus: Akiba, Frankfurt a. M. 1920
Löhr, Max: Volksleben im Lande der Bibel, Leipzig 1907
Rothschild, Theodor: Bausteine zur Unterhaltung und Belehrung aus jüdischer Geschichte und jüdischem Leben, Frankfurt a. M. 1913
Seligmann, Caesar: Hagada. Liturgie für die häusliche Feier der Sederabende, Frankfurt a. M. 1913
Wolbe, Eugen: Ludwig August Frankl. Der Dichter und Menschenfreund, Frankfurt a. M. 1910
Book from the holdings of the University Library of the FU Berlin:
Agnon, Shemu’el Yosef: Der Verstoßene, Berlin 1923
Selected literature and sources
Heim, Susanne und Maria Wilke: Deutsches Reich und Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren, Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der europäischen Juden durch das nationalsozialistische Deutschland Band 6, Berlin/Boston 2019.
Luft, Robert: Das Bibliothekswesen in Böhmen und Mähren während der Nationalsozialistischen Herrschaft 1939-1945, Bohemia 30 (1989), S. 295-342 [sketchy on Jewish libraries on pp. 337f.].
Wolf Gruner: Die Judenverfolgung im Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren, Göttingen 2016.
Donations to the school library:
On the "elimination of Jews from public, economic and social life" in the Protectorate:
General information on the foundation of Jewish school libraries in Austria-Hungary:
Activity report of the Prague Trusteeship Office:
...to the Heidelberg University Library for preparing and making available the digital copies of two rare editions (Kohn and Löwy).