Page 17 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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FRIEDMAN — JEWISH BOOK DURING NAZI ERA
9
were the Hebraica and Judaica departments of the Frankfurt
Municipal Library, which had survived the bombings in March,
1941, and the library of the
Collegio Rabbinico
in Rome (part of
the loot, approximately 6,600 books, was identified and returned
after the War). The report of August Schirmer, ERR leader in the
Netherlands, reveals the enormous extent of the confiscations in
that area. The libraries and archives of various Masonic lodges
were packed in 470 cases and transferred to Germany. The
libraries of the
Societas Spinoziana
in the Hague and in the
Spinoza Home in Rijnburg were packed in eighteen cases, and the
libraries of the publishing houses Querido, Pegazus, Fischer-
Berman and others, in seventeen cases. The library of the Inter­
national Institute of Social History in Amsterdam (staffed mainly
by Jewish refugee scholars from Germany) was packed in 776
cases. Also “acquired” in Amsterdam were the libraries of Beth
Hamidrash Etz Hayim (4,000 volumes), of the Israelitic Seminary
(6,300 volumes), of the Portuguese Israelitic Seminary (25,000
volumes and 600 incunabula), and of the Rosenthaliana (25,000
catalogued books, but actually, according to Schirmer, 100,000
volumes and 300 manuscripts). An ERR group, headed by Dr.
Pohl, went to Salonica in 1941. After sealing off the collections of
various yeshivas, they proceeded to Volo to seize the library of
Rabbi Moshe Pessah. Most of the Greek loot, however, probably
for lack of adequate transportation facilities, was never trans­
ferred to Germany.
Vilna, with its famous Jewish libraries, became an important
hunting ground for the Nazi “book lovers.” The Germans began
in August, 1941, with the Strashun Library. They conscripted
the services of the Gestapo prisoners: Noah Prylucki, the great
Jewish scholar, Yiddish philologist and civic leader, and A. Y.
Goldschmidt, writer and librarian of the Historic-Ethnographic
Society. Mr. Strashun, grandson of the founder of the Library,
committed suicide when ordered to assist in the cataloguing
project.
In January, 1942, Dr. Johannes Pohl arrived in Vilna accom­
panied by four assistants: Dr. Miller, Dr. Wulf, Sparkett and
Gimpel. Dr. Pohl ordered all important Jewish book collections
to be concentrated in the building of the YIVO at 18 Wiwulski
Street. He demanded twenty workers from the Judenrat of Vilna,
five of them experts on Judaica, for the task of selecting, catalogu­
ing and shipping the books. The number of the Jewish workers
in this ERR enterprise was later increased to about forty. They
included the great scholar and executive member of the YIVO,
Zelig Kalmanovich (who described his ERR work in his diary,
posthumously published in
YIVO Annual
, vol. VIII, 1953, pp.