Page 97 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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headed by Dr. Pohl, went to Salonica in 1941. After sealing off the
collections of various yeshivas, they proceeded to Volo to seize the
library of Rabbi Moshe Pessah. Most of the Greek loot, however,
probably for lack of adequate transportation facilities, was never
transferred to Germany.
Vilna, with its famous Jewish libraries, became an important
hunting ground for the Nazi “book lovers.” The Germans began
in August, 1941, with the Strashun Library. They conscripted the
services of the Gestapo prisoners: Noah Prylucki, the great Jewish
scholar, Yiddish philologist and civic leader, and A. Y. Gold­
schmidt, writer and librarian of the Historic-Ethnographic Soci­
ety. Mr. Strashun, grandson of the founder of the Library,
committed suicide when ordered to assist in the cataloguing
project.
In January, 1942, Dr. Johannes Pohl arrived in Vilna accompa­
nied by four assistants: Dr. Miller, Dr. Wulf, Sparkett and Gimpel.
Dr. Pohl ordered all important Jewish book collections to be con­
centrated in the building of the YIVO at 18 Wiwulski Street. He
demanded twenty workers from the Judenrat ofVilna, five of them
experts on Judaica, for the task of selecting, cataloguing and ship­
ping the books. The number of the Jewish workers in this ERR en­
terprise was later increased to about forty. They included the great
scholar and executive member of the YIVO, Zelig Kalmanovich
(who described his ERR work in his diary, posthumously published
in
YIVO Annual
, vol. VIII, 1953, pp. 9-81); the writer and civic
leader, Dr. Herman Kruk; the poets Abraham Sutzkever and
Shmerke Kaczerginski (who reported his ERR work in his book
Partisaner geyen,
Buenos Aires, 1947); the teacher, Rachel Pupko-
Krynski (see her article in
YIVO Bleter
, vol. XXX, 1947, no. 2, pp.
214 f.) and others. New books arrived from Kovno, Shavle, Mari-
ampol, Volozhyn and many other localities. Books were also as­
sembled from at least 300 synagogues and from various private
collections. During his short stay, Dr. Pohl made the first selection
of books suitable for transport to Germany. Out of 100,000 books
he selected 20,000 for shipping, and ordered the rest to be sold for
pulp to a paper mill for Reichsmark 19 per ton of paper. He dis­
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Jewish Book during Nazi Era