Page 21 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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lection. The principal contents of the Security Office Library,
however, including the library of the
Hochschule fu r Wissenschaft
des Judentums
(Berlin), and collections brought from Vienna and
Warsaw, were left behind in Berlin and were largely destroyed by
After Germany’s defeat in the spring of 1945, the Jewish collec­
tion at Frankfurt passed into the custody of the American author­
ities. A great cache of books, manuscripts and art treasures was
subsequently discovered (about 100,000 items) in a cave near
Hungen, thirty-two miles from Frankfurt. The Rothschild Library
in Frankfurt was designated by the United States Army as the
assembling point for Jewish cultural treasures recovered in the
U. S. Zone of Occupation. Up to November 1946, 2,300,000
volumes were assembled in Frankfurt. This massive gathering
contained approximately 400 collections from Poland, a like
number from Lithuania, 582 from Germany, 141 from Latvia,
50 from Austria, 15 from Czechoslovakia, and smaller numbers
from other countries. Eventually the collections were transferred
to a large depot in Offenbach, where they were processed and
returned to their legitimate owners. Since a number of institutions
had gone out of existence, and many former owners were no longer
alive, the ownerless property was distributed, with the aid of the
Commission on European Cultural Reconstruction in New York,
to Jewish libraries and to other institutions the world over.
Also semi-official libraries or private collections of German
scholars or experts on the Jewish question were equipped with
Jewish books. Thus, for instance, the editor of
Der Stuermer
acquired several thousand Hebrew books from every part of
Europe and employed a Hebraist of little competence to organize
the library and to indicate the importance of each book. The
retributive pattern of history seems to have been vindicated by
the ironic fate that overtook Julius Streicher, the ignominious
editor of
Der Stuermer.
After the Liberation his villa, together
with his farm and its valuable agricultural experimental equip­
ment, was assigned by the United States military authorities to
the Kibbutz NILI (
Netzah Yisroel lo yeshaker).
This kibbutz
was composed of young halutzim who survived the Nazi holocaust.
Thus, the treasures collected by the rapacious and ruthless
eventually came to serve a noble purpose — the training of
his victims, the youthful pioneers, for
to Israel. This
presage of a brighter tomorrow is a happy augury for the “People
of the Book.” It cannot obliterate the tragic past, but it will surely
inspire a deeper rededication by the whole Jewish people to the
spiritual and intellectual tasks that must be woven into the
architecture of our future.