Provenance Research :

Nazi Looted Books in the Berlin Academy Library - NS-Raubgut in der Berliner Akademiebibliothek

January 2013: Project "Nazi loot in the Berlin Academy Library 05/2012-04/2013
Funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, following a decision of the German Bundestag

Project Management: Dr. Stefan Wiederkehr
Project staff: Katy Barthel, Sandra Butte

Butte, Sandra / Wiederkehr, Stefan: "... as a means of acquisition of books in general are not available." Nazi loot in the Berlin Academy Library. A workshop report. Research and Practice 37 (2013) No. 2 (Preprint:

The Berlin Academy Library has since 2012 undertaken systematic research to locate Nazi looted books in its collection and 'special stock NS'. The project began on 1 May 2012 and lasts till 30 April 2013.

Work to date has confirmed the initial hypothesis that Nazi-confiscated books - especially "second hand loot" - have found their way into the collections of the Library of the Academy. There are several reasons. On the one hand, the library possessed during the Nazi period only a minimal acquisition budget and therefore relied on the opportunity for the free acquisition of books. Secondly, the holdings of the Library of the Academy grew from 1950 in the wake of the Sovietization of the Academy at a previously unprecedented rate. These new stocks also - as the surviving Akzessionsjournale show - were acquired from various sources and incorporated Nazi loot.

The vast number of volumes have book plates and stamps identifying the rightful owners and on the basis of which provenance research has been carried out.
Some additional 12,000 volumes have been identified as a "Nazi inventory" closed special stock. These were kept under lock and key during the GDR as these were mainly fascist and militarist literature.  

Since the project began, it became clear that the years 1933 to 1956 saw a systematic acquisition of looted property as shown in the Akzessionsjournale. 2,099 of 14,737 additions was a Raubgutverdacht. Comparing the research results with those of similar projects in other German libraries, it is striking that in the Academy Library, the vast majority of suspicious acquisitions did not end in 1956. In that period "second hand loot" - Nazi-confiscated books that arrived via an intermediary such as antique shop owners or other libraries in the Library of the Academy - clearly predominates. A last characteristic of the looted books is a broad distribution of provenances. The fact that only a small number of repeated provenances are found is a particular challenge for further research.

To access the books with looted provenances, go to the OPAC catalogue of the Akademiebibliothek and search with the keywork or Suchbegriff "NS-Raubgut". The books will also be published in the database.

The review of relevant records of the Academy archive is now finished. As the project progresses, the search will be extended to other archives, in order to enable eventual restitution to the rightful owners.

Source accessed 20 March 2013