TU commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Day with Jewish Cultural Reconstruction exhibit
Collection of rare books and artifacts seized by Nazis includes eighteenth-century Bible
TOWSON, Md. (April 14, 2011)—The Cook Library at Towson University will exhibit items from a collection of artifacts, religious objects and books that survived a cultural holocaust that echoed the plight of six million European Jews. The exhibit opens May 1 in commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
When Allied forces moved across German-occupied territories in 1945 they discovered millions of Jewish cultural works squirreled away in various storehouses in Germany and across Europe—works looted by Nazis during the Holocaust. Many of the seized items received an official Nazi stamp and were set aside for special German research institutes established to study the "Jewish Question."
Later the Office of Military Government, United States took responsibility for repatriating the items to their original owners and established the Offenbach Archival Depot, a clearinghouse for collecting, sorting, identifying provenance, and shipping materials back to original owners. Due to lack of identification or the inability to find owners or heirs, approximately 500,000 of these items were left unclaimed.
In 1947, Jewish Cultural Reconstruction Inc. stepped in to help redistribute the heirless property, some of which was accepted by the Baltimore Hebrew University. The collection of about 4,500 items became part of TU's Special Collections when the programs of Baltimore Hebrew University merged with TU and the Baltimore Hebrew Institute was established in 2009.
In addition to bearing the stamp of the Reichsinstitut für Geschichte des neuen Deutschlands (the Reich Institute for History of the New Germany), several books in the collection contain other inscriptions, stamps or unique marginalia that mark their journey or distinguish them from copies held in other libraries' collections.
As part of the BHI Rare Books collection, these artifacts will be preserved and made freely available for use by current and future generations. The Cook Library exhibit will run through December 31, 2011.
Click the slideshow link on the right side of this page for a preview of the exhibit.