Page 48 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
Simonsen
3
s Large Collection
In 1924 the Royal Library purchased a num ber of im po rtan t
Hebrew manuscripts and incunabula from the N a than Porges
collection in Leipzig, and in 1932 a new acquisition b rough t it
into the first line among public libraries possessing collections
of Hebraica and Judaica. I t then received as a donation from
the Carlsberg Foundation, from the L. Zeuthen Memorial Foun­
dation, and from the Jewish Community, all in Copenhagen,
30.000 volumes from the private library of nearly 40,000 books
Professor David Simonsen had collected through more than 60
years of his life. Of this collection received by the Royal Library,
more than 25,000 volumes were Hebraica and Judaica. Th is is
the largest aggregate procurement made by the library since 1796.
David Simonsen (1853-1932), a descendant of an old and
distinguished Danish Jewish family, was educated at the Jewish
theological seminary in Breslau, Germany. He m ain tained strong
connections with Jewish scholars the world over and enjoyed a
prom inent position w ithin Jewish scholarship. He had been a
rabbi in Copenhagen from 1879 un til 1891, and Chief Rabb i of
Denmark from 1892 to 1902. After re tiring from the rabbinate,
he spent the balance of his life as a private scholar, ph ilan throp ist
and book collector on a grand scale. He amassed books no t as a
bibliophile, bu t only for study purposes. His library was his
laboratory, and his erudite interests embraced all Jewish subjects,
in addition to Arabic philosophy, general history, biography,
folklore and other cultural disciplines. Practically every volume
in his extensive library bears witness of having been read by him,
showing marks and penciled notes written in his characteristic
hand.
During the ensuing years new books were steadily added to
the Jewish collections, even during the melancholy years of the
German occupation of Denmark (1940-1945). Fortunately, the
Nazis did no t covet the Jewish collections in the Royal L ibrary
of Copenhagen; no t a single book was confiscated by them.
Furthermore, the Royal L ibrary took over the library of abou t
5.000 volumes of the Jewish Community of Copenhagen as well
as those of several Jewish associations. All these books were kept
in the cellars of the Royal Library and were restored to the
owners after the war. During the present w riter’s stay in Stock­
holm, Sweden, from 1943 till 1945, he served as the adviser on
book and library matters to the free Danish representation in
Sweden and through it to the Danish committees in the Un ited
States and in England. He prepared lists of books on all subjects,
including Jewish books, to be acquired in these countries from
which Denmark had been cut off by the German occupation,