A pack of books with an exelibris (a bookplate) from before the war, from my family house in Hamburg.
In some libraries in Germany, there is a project in which the researchers are going through all the books purchased by the library after the year 1944 and were printed before.
Thy are trying to locate books that were stolen by the Nazis and reached libraries and universities.
In those years, families who held respectable libraries used to print an exelibris – kind of a business card with a special drawing, indicating that the book was part of their library.
The Baruch family were a respected, educated family in Hamburg. The father George were described as a “Bildungsbürger”. They had a big library containing 2000 items, a piano, and the three children were well educated as well.
In Stuttgart, there were found 12 books of the same series in which glued exelibris:
From the library of Irma and George Baruch.
The exelibris, painted by a Jewish artist from Hamburg especially for them, in it, one can see a boy with books sitting on the Helgoland Island*.
On the 8.11.1941, George and Marion were forced to hand the apartment keys and were deported to Minsk concentration camp, there they were murdered.
The books were taken from the apartment after the apartment was seized by the Gestapo.
About the arrival of the books to Stuttgart we only know that the library got them as a donation from a local pharmacist, but can not tell how they got to him. He is already dead.
And there is more:
A week after this discovery, I received an email from Bremen’s local library. An interrogator of stolen Nazi booty told me that he had located one exelibris exactly the same as the ones located in Stuttgart. Unfortunately, the book that the exelibris was part of was probably stolen in the 60’s.
Yesterday I visited Stuttgart and saw the books.
There are 6,000 more books to go through in Stuttgart, (and probably millions more all over Germany). Researchers in Stuttgart will look to see if there are other books of the family in that collection.
The books themselves have no monetary value but the smell, the colors, the pages – to know that this is what they saw every day in their living room and with these pages spent some of their weekends, to know that the stolen items will now have a place of honor and not just thrown away in some library – this is what makes this research so important and exciting.
* Helgoland – a German island in the North Sea, an amazing holiday spot with seals. Google it, it also got a great history.