8 May 2012: Nazi Loot from Austria

Two new cases of Nazi-looted property amongst the SLUB holdings have been identified.

The first case involves volumes originally belonging to the private libraries of Victor Adler and Engelbert Pernerstorfer, which were acquired by the Library of Social Sciences for the Viennese Chamber of Workers and Employees (today the Arbeiterkammer Bibliothek Wien für Sozialwissenschaften). The annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938 resulted in the dissolution of the Chamber of Labor and its library, whereupon nearly all of its volumes were scattered.

The second is a case of expropriation of private property. In 1938, Fernand Raoul Jellinek-Mercedes was targeted by the National Socialists. The Nazi rulers placed an ever-increasing pressure on the "Jew" Jellinek-Mercedes, who tried in vain to keep his valuable assets until he was finally forced to sell his private art collection and library. Unable to cope with the continuing reprisals, Jellinek-Mercedes chose to end his life in February of 1939.

Press Releases

12 December 2011: SLUB Returns Nazi Loot to Family Steinthal Heirs

With the restitution of books to the descendants of the Steinthal banker family, the Saxon State Library – Dresden State and University Library (SLUB) has returned another looted collection to its rightful owner. During the National Socialist regime, Jewish families were systematically plundered and the confiscated property was either sold or transferred to various institutions.

This is the third extensive restitution made by the SLUB Dresden, following the return of two significant collections to their proper owners: Jewish banker Viktor von Klemperer von Klemenau’s collection and a collection of autograph manuscripts that originally belonged to the Leipzig music publisher Henri Hinrichsen.

Since October 2011, ongoing efforts to systematically research the records of ownership and/or location of historical objects (provenance research) have received funding from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, ensuring that the necessary work can be completed in the next two years.

On November 9th, 2011, 115 books that had been stolen from the family of Max (1850-1940) and Fanny Steinthal (1866-1941) were returned to the rightful heirs. Serving first as director and later as board member, Max Steinthal worked for the Deutsche Bank until being forced out by the Nazi regime. The Steinthals had amassed a significant art collection before dying within a year of each other in a hotel in Berlin while waiting for voyage out of Germany. In her will, Fanny Steinthal named her son Erich Steinthal (in Germany) and her daughter Eva Vollmann (who immigrated to Peru) as heirs, along with Eva’s Gentile husband at the time, Richard Vollmann.

Vollmann, who is said to have remained on friendly terms with the Steinthal family even after divorcing Eva, later rescued the Steinthals' collection of art and books from the bombardment in Berlin by storing it in his villa in Dresden. In the early 1950s, Vollmann fled to the Federal Republic of Germany, whereupon this "fugitive's" property was confiscated by the GDR and finally made its way, via the Dresden City Council, to the former Saxon State Library.

For these heirs, the returned books are an important remembrance of their family. Simultaneously, the restitution serves as a reminder of the double injustice they suffered: expropriation and confiscation.

News Concerning Nazi Loot

2 December 2011: Press Statement by the German Federal Government

Bernd Neumann, Minister of State for Culture: Funding for provenance research will be doubled.

27 November 2011: Nazi Loot in Leipzig University Library

On November 27th 2011, the Bibliotheca Albertina opened an exhibition documenting the results of a two-year-long research project—the effort to locate Nazi-looted cultural property found amongst the library’s holdings.