The official German database – the Lost Art Internet database – can be found at the website of the Koordinierungsstelle Magdeburg, Germany's central office for the documentation of lost cultural property: www.lostart.de
. Here you may search for objects in German public institutions which were discovered to be illegitimate possessions, and you can add searches for items that were confiscated from your family.
Our website provides information about the Central and Regional Library, Berlin and the library of the Stiftung Neue Synagoge – Centrum Judaicum's searches for looted books, as well as for the potential owners in both libraries.
The Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin (ZLB - Central and Regional Library of Berlin)
and the Stiftung Neue Synagoge – Centrum Judaicum
are checking their collections for traces of Nazi-looted books. These books, which belonged to the victims of the persecution, had been brutally robbed or taken away on the basis of discriminating laws. In many cases the (mostly Jewish) victims had to sell them to finance their emigration or for their survival. We will try to find a "just and fair solution" on the basis of the Washington declaration
(1998) and the "Common Statement"
(1999) to return the confiscated book(s) to the previous owner or their legal heirs. On our website you can search the database with those books and the clues we have found to date. The database will continuously be updated and in the future we will also have more information in English.
In 1943 the Berliner Stadtbibliothek (City Library of Berlin, a predecessor of today's ZLB) bought about 40,000 books which had previously been taken from the homes of the deported Jews, and used these stolen books to replenish the library's collections. Until the end of the war, about 2,000 of these books were marked with a "J" (as in "Jude" or "Jew") and listed in a special acquisition file. These books can easily be identified as confiscated, but only about one-fifth of them contain any marks of provenance of their former owners.
The rest of the books cannot be so easily be identified: after the war the Jewish properties were mixed with other collections and were altogether declared as "gifts". Material from the stacks of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) and other Nazi organizations was used to rebuild the Berlin Libraries, and among these collections are looted books from all over Europe.
Every single book in the stacks is examined for signs of former owners. Examples of such signs are autographs, book-plates (Exlibris) and dedications that give us information and lead us to the former owners and their heirs. Around 200,000 volumes have to be examined, thousands of persons identified and their heirs found.
Quick search: In the search-field on the upper right you can enter a name or a phrase. A list of all entered names and organizations you will find under Person/Körperschaft here
The system is still under development but will continuously be updated. All the information must be considered as temporarily and incomplete. This gives us, however, the possibility to cooperate with other projects as well as the public, and increases the chance that the families will get their books returned to them.
Should you recognize a name in the database, please send us an email.
Every piece of information helps us to return the books to the rightful owners!