Page 59 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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would be available to scholars, then the opposition by Jewish orga­
nizations to auctioning the other books and manuscripts would
evaporate. Thus, though the still unidentified consignor was op­
posed to a private sale, she, later to be identified as Mrs. Manya
Guttmann, was persuaded to go along. There is testimony that
both the Anti-Defamation League and the JRSO did withdraw
their objection to the auction once the private sale was accom­
plished. There is disputed testimony about whether the Attorney
General was also satisfied.
Sotheby’s and the Guttmanns apparently felt that Attorney
General’s Office reneged on an agreement to allow the auction to
go ahead unimpeded once the private sale took place.
From my research perspective, what made the Attorney General
resume the investigation and his opposition to the sale were the
persistent anti-sale sentiments that were expressed by other Jewish
organizations and individuals, most significantly by the Reform
Movement. The JRSO then again supported an anti-sale stance.
Rabbi Alexander Schindler, President of the Union of American
Hebrew Congregations, had earlier written to Sotheby’s that many
leading Reform Rabbis in the United States had studied at the
Hochschule in Berlin. The Central Conference of American Rab­
bis was in convention during the week before the sale, and the 500
attendees voted unanimously for a resolution to “take all necessary
steps to stop this sale until the ownership of these books and manu­
scripts is clearly established.” Rabbi Gunther Plaut , then Presi­
dent of the CCAR, had himself been a student at the Hochschule
until 1935 and along with others, was sent by the Hochschule to
study and be ordained at HUC in Cincinnati. He told the press
that fifty members of the CCAR had either graduated or attended
the Berlin seminary. He said, “It is inconceivable to me that these
items passed voluntarily into the hands of private ownership. The
likelihood is that these items were given in trust to individuals with
the hope that someday they would return to the Jewish people. We
feel that the conference, with many former students and governed
by a former student, has in a sense historical standing to step for­
ward and say “let us know.” Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, President of
The Guttmann Affair