Page 11 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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KABAKOFF / INTRODUCTION
3
but he was prevented from doing so by the outbreak of war.
The contract which had been drawn up and whose text is re­
p roduced in the article rem a ined unp e rfo rm ed . Baron
Gunzburg’s library of over 2,000 manuscripts and some 5,000
volumes of Hebraica and Semitica failed to cross the ocean and
to be added to the holdings of the Seminary Library.
Efforts to acquire the Baron Gunzburg Library, this time for
the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem, were
also made by the Russian Zionists. Dr. Mordecai Nadav has
traced these efforts (1911-1917) in an article published in
Essays
and Studies in Librarianship Presented to Curt David Worman
(Jer­
usalem: Magnes Press, 1975). A committee, spearheaded by
Hillel Zlatopolsky, completed arrangements in 1917 for the ac­
quisition of the Baron’s library for 500,000 rubles. Again fate
intervened and the library could not be shipped because of the
outbreak of the Russian Revolution. Neither Jerusalem nor New
York could benefit from the valuable collection.
In an article in
Haaretz
(30 October 1987) entitled “A Jewish
Library Belonging to Israel in the Lenin Library,” Raheli
Edelman, of the Schocken publishing house in Jerusalem, re­
newed the claim of Israel to the Baron’s collection. She wrote
the article in connection with her trip to Moscow to participate
in its book fair and with her visit to the Lenin Library to view
the Baron’s books. Her interest in the collection derived from
the fact that she is a descendant of Hillel Zlatopolsky, who was
instrumental in purchasing it in 1917. Her grandmother,
Shoshana Persitz, was Zlatopolsky’s daughter and it was in her
home that the collectoin was stored at the end of the summer
of 1917. When the house was transferred by the Communists
to an engineering firm the library was discovered and trans­
ferred to what is now the Lenin Library. Various attempts, in­
cluding one by Ben Gurion, which were made to redeem it
from Communist hands and bring it to Jerusalem ended in
failure.
Ms. Edelman encountered various obstacles before she was
finally permitted to visit the Lenin Library and to view some
of the Baron’s rare books, which still bore his
ex libris,
and his
incunabula. She found the vast Lenin Library to have an out­
dated catalog and to lack computerization. Commenting on
newspaper reports according to which the Soviets had stated
that Israel had no property in Russia, she pointed out that the