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 U.S. 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.
Please send all additions and corrections to Dr. Wesley A. Fisher, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2126, U.S.A., telephone (202) 479-9732, fax (202) 488-2693, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.