The Anna Amalia Library is a research library and research centre for 18th and 19th century European cultural and literary history. It has particularly rich collections for the years 1750-1850, spanning the period from the Age of Enlightenment to Romanticism. The library collections number around one million items which date from the 9th to the 21st century.
The Anna Amalia Library is part of the Foundation of Weimar Classics (Stiftung Weimarer Klassik), one of the largest and most significant cultural institutions in Germany. As well as the Anna Amalia Library, the Foundation of Weimar Classics encompasses the Goethe and Schiller Archive, the oldest literature archive in Germany, 25 museums, exhibition spaces, palaces, historical houses and the parks in and around Weimar. Eleven of the sites are listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage under the heading "Classical Weimar". Between 1919 and 1968 the Anna Amalia Library was known as the Thuringian State Library (Thüringische Landesbibliothek).
Research into Nazi-confiscated works of art in the Library's collection
In 2005 the Anna Amalia Library embarked on a provenance research project in order to identify any Nazi-looted property in its collections. As part of the project, all acquisitions between 1933 and 1945 are being systematically checked for their source and the manner of acquisition. It is also part of the Library's approach to extend checks to post-1945 accessions if information on a particular Library item, in the accession books or library records, points to possible Nazi-looted property. Any suspected Nazi-looted property is documented by the Library on a separate online catalogue of Nazi-looted cultural property. It is also published on www.lostart.de. However, the books and information documented there can also be searched in the Library's general online catalogue.
A special page dedicated to provenance research on the Anna Amalia Library's homepage sets out the Library's approach to identifying looted property, how the results are published and includes information on conferences and publications.
Spot checks have indicated that the Library has significant numbers of Nazi-looted books in its collection. In 1934, for example, the transfer of approximately 600 titles from "Thuringian libraries of former Social Democrat local organizations and similar" is documented. In most cases a clear identification of the previous owner has been possible. Other so-called transfers came from dissolved lending libraries, in-house libraries of firms and private libraries.
The Anna Amalia Library 's inventory books document so-called transfers from the Prussian State Library (Preußische Staatsbibliothek) labelled as "gifts". The Prussian State Library together with the Reich Exchange Office (Reichstauschstelle) acted as a distributor of looted cultural property from outside the German Reich. For that reason, the Anna Amalia Library expects that more looted books may be found scattered among the collections of the then Thuringian State Library accessioned between 1933 and 1945 and later.
By 2008 approximately 3,000 volumes have been identified as Nazi-looted property, including two private libraries of Jewish families from Weimar and Leipzig.
The Anna Amalia Library is committed to the restitution of Nazi-looted cultural property and works with the Commission for Looted Art in Europe to trace the former owners of the books in its collection or their heirs. The result of this collaboration recently led to the tracing of the heirs to over 1,500 books in the Library.
Research into works of art missing from the Library
The Library has not undertaken detailed research into possible losses. A limited number of books and maps may have been removed by the Soviet Army. However, no details concerning these are known.
Dr. Jürgen Weber
Projektleiter (Project Director)
Projektleitung Sondersammlungen und Bestandserhaltung
Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek Klassik Stiftung
Tel: +49 (0)3643 545 208
Fax: +49 (0)3643 545 220
Central Registry Archives, Correspondence, 6 November 2002 and 21 October 2008
Anna Amalia Library <http://www.klassik-stiftung.de/einrichtungen/herzogin-anna-amalia-bibliothek.html>, accessed 31 October 2008