Historische Drucke

Research Project „Reichstauschstelle“

In cooperation with the Max-Planck-Institut für Geschichte (and later on with the MPI für Wissenschaftsgeschichte) the State Library conducted a research project to investigate the history of the Reichstauschstelle and the Prussian State Library. Funded by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, this project also received support from the Beauftragter der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien (BKM).The project aimed at elucidating as comprehensively as possible the administrative structures and professional processes of both institutions with a special view to legal and financial aspects. Moreover, it also wanted to sound the scope of action of the protagonists involved and the political dimension of procedures.At the end of the project, carried out by Dr. Cornelia Briel, a substantial study was published by Akademie Verlag in 2013. Based on a rich variety of sources and thoroughly indexed it has become an indispensable work of reference that will support further research on NS-looted books in the State Library and beyond. The scope of sources analyzed is remarkably broad; beside archival records of the State Library, relevant holdings of the following institutions were analyzed: •    the Bundesarchiv,•    the Geheimes Staatsarchiv,•    the Politisches Archiv of the Auswärtiges Amt,•    the Landesarchiv Berlin,•    the Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv Potsdam•    the Sächsisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Dresden•    and the Staatsfilialarchiv Bautzen.

For the first time it was possible to consult the files of the Acquisitions Department of the Prussian State Library for the period 1938 to 1945, which are kept in the Archiwum Państwowe we Wrocławiu, Oddział w Jeleniej Górze. They had been handed over to Polish authorities in the summer of 1945 by members of the department, which had been evacuated from Berlin to Hirschberg (now Jelenia Góra) in Lower Silesia in the course of the war.

Investigations have shown that the Prussian State Library as well as the Reichstauschstelle were part of a network which handed out to academic libraries and other institutions of the Reich considerable quantities of books which had been confiscated from persecuted Jews and other so-called “enemies of the Reich”. In this context it has also become clear to what extent both institutions since about 1936 had been competing with certain NS agencies - among them organizations whose primary task was plunder and robbery, such as various institutions of the SS or the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg. Despite several ordinances in their favour by the Ministry of Finance, neither the State Library nor the Reichstauschstelle could sustain their claims against them.