Nazi looted books in the Albert Einstein Library
Rabbi Prof. Dr. Birgit Klein
Tel.: (+49) (0) 6221/5419 225
Fax: (+49) (0) 6221/5419209
Philipp Zschommler, M.A.
Tel.: (+49) (0) 6221/5419 214
Fax: (+49) (0) 6221/5419209
Carmen Algaba Muñoz
The final report of the first project (provenance research, in german) can be found here.
Since 2019, the Heidelberg University of Jewish Studies has been actively searching for Nazi looted property in the holdings of its library. Even a random grab at the bookshelves suggests that a considerable part of the holdings published before 1945 at least justify such suspicion.
This circumstance is of course no coincidence. Since its foundation in 1979, the library has been keen to build up a comprehensive stock as quickly as possible, and this from a wide variety of sources.
The acquisition of older literature was indispensable in this process, and so Judaica and Hebraica, whose origins were initially not questioned, were incorporated. Purchases were made from antiquarian books but the library also received numerous donations and bequests, which were gratefully accepted. Among them is the book collection of the former rabbi of Westphalia, Emil Davidovic. As this collection is clearly identifiable and has numerous but spatially definable provenances, it is particularly suitable as an introduction to looted goods research. To this end, the university took the opportunity to apply for funding from the German Lost Art Foundation. In addition, the project is supported by the Lili and Michael Sommerfreund Foundation.
As part of this project, entitled "NS-Raubgut in der Bibliothek Albert-Einstein der Hochschule für Jüdische Studien – Die Provenienzen im Nachlass des Rabbiners Emil Davidovic" (01/01/2019 - 12/31/2021), this sub-collection will be examined by autopsy to determine its provenances. Even in cases where restitution is ultimately not possible, the project will properly acknowledge those to whom the books once belonged. In this way, the project will make an important contribution to the culture of remembrance in particular and to Jewish history during and after the Shoah in general.
The project "Erbenermittlung zu NS-Raubgut aus dem Nachlass Emil Davidovič in der Bibliothek der Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg", which began on 01.01.2022 and is also funded by the German Lost Art Foundation and the Lili and Michael Sommerfreund Foundation, is dedicated exclusively to finding heirs to the books whose owners have already been determined.
The examined or restituted books as well as the discovered provenance references are published in the cooperative database Looted Cultural Assets. Rare restituted works are digitized with the consent of the owners and continue to be available to interested parties via the platform Heidelberg historic literature - digitized (at the University Library of Heidelberg).