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Project “Nazi Looted Assets in the Special Collections”

In focus: Acquisitions for the special collections of the State and University Library between 1933 and 1945

Since 2018, the German Lost Art Foundation has been funding a research project that complements the ongoing research of the Department of Provenance Research/Nazi Looted Assets. Instead of the general collections that have been investigated so far, the focus here is on the library’s special collections. Historian Anneke de Rudder systematically examines autographs, maps, letters, materials from estates, rare books, historic prints, etc. In 2020, the German Lost Art Foundation approved an extension of the project so that the research will be continued until 2022.

Between 1933 and 1945, a large number of items, some of them valuable, came into the library, mainly through purchases from antiquarian bookshops and auction houses. Among them are some suspected or already proven cases of Nazi looted assets. Many of these pieces are unique, often of a private nature, and still have a high emotional value for the families of Nazi persecutees. The special character of these objects and their sometimes incomplete indexing require extensive research.

The project aims to identify Nazi looted assets in the special collections, to report found items to the "Lost Art" database, to identify heirs and legal successors, and finally, as far as possible, to restitute the items or to find a just and fair solution in accordance with the Washington Principles. In 2019, the project led to the restitution of books to the heiress of Hans Sternheim, a godson of the eminent 19th-century German writer Theodor Fontane. More restitutions are planned.

Further links (texts in German):


Arbeitsstelle Provenienzforschung - NS-Raubgut

Anneke de Rudder / Dr. Wiebke von Deylen
E-Mail: nsraubgut@sub.uni-hamburg.de
Telefon: +49 40/42838-3348 / -2225
Telefax: +49 40/42838-3352