Page 16 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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nounced, there were objections by individuals and organizations
for at least the following reasons: 1) most o f the books and
manuscripts had once belonged to the Hochschule2 fue r die
Wissenschaft des Juden thum s , the school in Berlin for the tra in ­
ing o f scholars and Liberal rabbis; 2) the identity o f the con­
signors was being kept secret; and 3) Sotheby’s did not make
clear how the books got from the Hochschule, which was forced
by the Nazis to close in 1942, to the auction block in 1984.
The Attorney General o f the State o f New York tried to preven t
the sale from being consummated; and failing that, he tried
to undo the outcome o f the sale first by injunction and then
by suit against Sotheby’s and the consignors and even the p u r ­
chasers. T h e explosive revelation finally th a t A lexander
Guttmann, Professor Emeritus o f Hebrew Union College in Cin­
cinnati, and/or his wife, was the consignor led to much legal
and public debate about whether the Guttmanns had ever ob­
tained p rope r title to the materials and about the moral issues
o f benefitting financially from the sale o f what had clearly been
Hochschule property. Preparation for trial led ultimately to a
settlement that was opposed by some bu t nonetheless went into
effect. The settlement included the vesting in the Judaica Con­
servancy Foundation o f certain books, manuscripts, and funds
that were at issue in the case.
It might also be helpful to visualize the broad chronological
divisions as follows:
1. From the announcem en t o f the auction in April, 1984,
until the auction took place on Ju n e 26, 1984.
2. From the auction until the Court O rd e r o f September 17,
1984, prohibiting the distribution o f the proceeds o f the
sale and starting the process o f “discovery,” a legal term
for pre-trial activity such as depositions, gathering and ex­
changing o f documents, etc. relative to the lawsuit.
3. The publicly quiet phase until the date set for the trial,
September, 1984, to Ju n e 24, 1985.
4. The Settlement phase, until August 14, 1986.
5. The establishment and the activities o f the Juda ica Con­
servancy Foundation.
This survey should be recognized as prelim inary because it
2. The “Hochschule” was “downgraded” by the Nazis to “Lehranstalt,” and
the latter term rather than the former was used in the 1930s.