Restitution to the heirs of Victor Klemperer Edler von Klemenau

In 1991, the SLUB returned 295 books to the heirs of the banker Victor Klemperer Edler von Klemenau (neither related to nor the same as the linguist and author of LTI, Victor Klemperer). These included numerous incunabula, which had been confiscated in December 1938. The Saxon State Library received 13 manuscripts, 549 incunabula and 540 bibliophile prints even before the end of the Second World War. However, only 12 incunabula came back from the alternative warehouses after May 1945. This stock grew to the aforementioned 295 works when library stocks from the Soviet Union were returned in 1958.

Victor Klemperer Edler von Klemenau (1876-1943) was one of the most important representatives of the Dresdner Bank, which was founded in 1872, in the Kingdom and later in the Free State of Saxony. He owned a fine collection of art, which comprised porcelain items, paintings, sculptures, and books. Due to his Jewish descent, he was attacked and denounced and subsequently forced to resign by the National Socialists immediately after they came to power. In 1938, he left Germany with his wife Sophie (née Reichenheim, 1888-1976) and obtained asylum in southern Rhodesia.

His extensive incunabula collection was one of the most important of its kind in Europe. He was interested primarily in early prints and worked intensively with the doyen of German incunabula research, Konrad Haebler. He published the catalogue “Frühdrucke aus der Bücherei Victor von K” (Early Prints from the Library of Victor von K) in 1927. Academic critics consider the catalogue important for this field of research and for the entire German history of writing and the book trade.