Offenbach Archival Depot: Antithesis to Nazi Plunder
During the Holocaust the greater part of Jewish cultural heritage was destroyed: religious objects were melted down and Jewish books were burned or sent for pulp. Only a sample of Jewish culture was preserved by the Nazis for their own 'scientific' purposes.
At the end of the war Allied forces uncovered huge stores of looted books, often lying strewn unsorted in makeshift depots. What was to be done with this valuable cultural legacy?
Colonel Seymour J. Pomrenze was the officer in charge of US book restitution at the Offenbach Archival Depot in Germany. His firsthand account demonstrates the enormous challenge involved in returning looted books and religious items to their rightful owners.
Millions of books were carefully sorted, packed, and shipped back to their country of origin. Only after careful consideration were remaining volumes made available to legitimate Jewish successor organizations.
The Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets provided the opportunity for a reappraisal of postwar restitution efforts. Remaining issues concerning the fate of archives and libraries can be addressed with the assistance of new information from secret archives now allowing access.
On the basis of contemporary photographs and archival documents, this online exhibition traces the fate of libraries and archives during the Holocaust era.
All information contained in this site is the result of research performed by Martin Dean and Susanne Brose.
- Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg: A Policy of Plunder (a historical overview of the cultural looting organized by the Nazi organization Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg)
- Offenbach Archival Depot: Establishment and Operation (a personal account of American restitution efforts at the Offenberg Archival Depot)
- Offenbach Archival Depot: Restitution Efforts (the handling of looted books in the American Zone of Occupation, 1944–1951)