Page 101 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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Kellner, an unfrocked priest, controlled the Jewish collection. The
library “collected” more than 2,000,000 books in the fields of reli­
gion, Marxism, Freemasonry, and Jewish studies. In the fall of
1941, the Reich Security Office ordered the Association ofJews in
Germany
(Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland)
to produce
eight scholars qualified to deal with the Jewish books. Headed by
Dr. Ernst Grumach, this staff was eventually increased to twenty-
five (all of whom survived). When the evacuation of Berlin was or­
dered in August, 1943, many of the books were transported to cas­
tles in Czechoslovakia; some 60,000 Hebrew and Yiddish books
were sent to
Theresienstadt.
Here a group ofJewish Ghetto inmates
led by Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein, the
Judenaltester
of the Ghetto,
was put in charge of cataloguing the collection. The principal con­
tents of the Security Office Library, however, including the library
of the
Hochschulefiir Wissenschaft desjudentums
(Berlin), and collec­
tions brought fromVienna and Warsaw, were left behind in Berlin
and were largely destroyed by bombings.
After Germany’s defeat in the spring of 1945, the Jewish collec­
tion at Frankfurt passed into the custody of the American authori­
ties. A great cache of books, manuscripts and art treasures was
subsequently discovered (about 100,000 items) in a cave near Hun-
gen, thirty-two miles from Frankfurt. The Rothschild Library in
Frankfurt was designated by the United States Army as the assem­
bling 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 coun­
tries. Eventually the collections were transferred to a large depot
in Offenbach, where they were processed and returned to their le­
gitimate owners. Since a number of institutions had gone out of ex­
istence, and many former owners were no longer alive, the
ownerless property was distributed, with the aid of the Commis­
sion on European Cultural Reconstruction in New York, toJewish
libraries and to other institutions the world over.
93
Jewish Book during Nazi Era