Page 57 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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The Guttmann Affair
There were speculation and attempts to research an answer to
the perplexing questions of who had those books and manuscripts
for forty-two or more years while the world thought of them as de­
stroyed by the Nazis, if it thought of them at all. McGill himself
became interested in surviving Hochschule faculty and students
and their heirs. At first, the focus was on Ismar Elbogen who came
to the U.S. from Germany in 1938. Elbogen was wrongly remem­
bered by many4 as the smuggler of the Zunz Collection from the
Hochschule. At one point, McGill questioned
almost hostilely
about the Zunz Collection, saying that it was widely known that
the collection was given to the Hebrew Union College Library by
Elbogen, and by implication, that maybe Elbogen also gave HUC
the books and manuscripts in the auction. Others, with less
grounds, actually spread a rumor that HUC was the consignor. I
finally convinced McGill that the Zunz Collection was not at
HUC but at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerus­
alem and that the confusion might be traceable to the superficial
similarity of names—Hebrew University and Hebrew Union Col­
lege. Furthermore, there was evidence that Elbogen had recruited
someone else to take the Zunz Collection from Berlin toJerusalem
when that person made
, which he did in 1939, a year after
Elbogen left Germany for the U.S.
What has interested me about this episode of the heroic, un­
is the story he told Gotthold Weil, then director of the
Jewish National and University Library and formerly associated
with the Hochschule. The
told Weil that the instructions from
the Hochschule were that Weil might use the archival materials for
his own scholarly research but then he was to give them to the
JNUL for its permanent collections. Weil did not use them for re­
search but did deposit them in the JNUL and opened them to the
world of scholarship with an article in
Kiryat Sefer.5
4. McGill, New York Times, June 19, 1984, quotes Ismar Schorsch.
5. Vol. 34 (1959): 231 ff.