72 years after the Nazi surrender in WWII, German authorities are beginning to return books stolen from their rightful owners.
The new “Initial Check” project is responsible for finding the books is sponsored by the German Lost Art Foundation, a government-sponsored effort to track down artwork taken during the Nazi era. According to Uwe Hartmann, the head of Provenance Research at Lost Art, nearly 6,000 libraries will be searched with the help of local librarians aware of possible thieved books in their libraries’ archives.
Image courtesy of Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste
Many of the books were stolen by the Nazis after Kristallnacht, the 1938 night of government-sponsored terror some experts regard as the true start of the Nazi Holocaust; others were looted or sold for much less than their worth by Jews fleeing Germany.
Major finds, like the discovery of 500 books stolen from Jewish department store owners Edith and Georg Tietz in the Bautzen city library, have already been made. But the book restoration quest is often less about spectacular or expensive finds than giving heirs and survivors some solace through items of sentimental value. One survivor living in California, for example, received a lost book inscribed with a school teacher’s dedication.
Image courtesy of MDR
Along with books and artwork, the Lost Art Foundation also works to find and return instruments, household items, and cars to their original owners or their heirs.
Featured image courtesy of Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste.