On 9 December, the Bavarian State Library and the Berlin Central and Regional Library presented four works to the Abraham Geiger College at the University of Potsdam. These books originated from the library of the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums (Higher Institute for the Science of Judaism). The framework for this occasion was offered by the autumn meeting of the Arbeitskreis “Provenienzforschung und Restitution – Bibliotheken” (Working group for provenance research – libraries) which took place at the University of Potsdam.
The Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums was founded in 1872 by Abraham Geiger (1810-1874), among others, to create a place in which people could dedicate themselves to Jewish traditions in a spirit of academic freedom. In 1942, the Hochschule was closed down by the national socialists and the library was seized. The Abraham Geiger College at the University of Potsdam sees itself as a successor organization of the Hochschule.
The books which the Bavarian State Library handed over to the Abraham Geiger College are the ninth, eleventh and twelfth volumes of a twelve-volume edition of the Babylonian Talmud. The translation by the private scholar Lazarus Goldschmidt, published from 1930 to 1936, represents one of the most important German editions. After the seizure of the library of the Hochschule, the volumes were taken to Ordensburg Sonthofen, a national socialist military barrack in Allgäu. As of 1946, the inventory left behind in Sonthofen was handed over to the State Library by the American Military Government. As of 1948, the volumes were taken into the inventory of the Library.
The book that the Berlin Central and Regional Library (ZLB) handed over is “Die Apostelgeschichte und die Anfänge des Christentums” (The Acts of the Apostles and the Beginnings of Christianity) by Eduard Meyer. It was taken into the inventory of the Berlin City Library in 1946. The book was delivered by the Bergungsstelle für wissenschaftliche Bibliotheken (Restitution service for scientific libraries), an official department of the city of Berlin that, from July 1945 to February 1946, had the task of securing dispersed book inventories and redistributing them. The aforementioned volume, which came into the inventory of the ZLB in this way, originated from the depot of the Reichssicherheitshauptamtes (Reich Head Office for Security) which planned to construct a “Gegnerbibliothek” (library of opponents) and, to this end, had something between two and three million books transported to Berlin from plundered universities.