The Bremen State and University Library has returned four books to the Supreme Court of Justice in Vienna that were looted by the Nazis from a Jewish judge in Austria during the Holocaust.
The library returned the books as part of the “Looted Cultural Property” project, it said in a statement.
“The books contain the ex libris – an artistically designed proof of ownership attached to the inside of the book cover – by Dr. James Klang and are a case of Nazi looting: this was discovered by State and University Library project member Volker Cirsovius during the examination of library acquisitions between 1933 and 1948.”
According to the project’s findings, Dr. James Klang (1847–1914) bequeathed his library to his son Dr. Heinrich Klang (1875–1954). The junior Klang was a judge at the Higher Regional Court of Vienna from 1925 and was also an associate professor.
In 1938, after Austria fell under Nazi rule, Klang’s teaching license was revoked at the University of Vienna because he was Jewish. He was also forced to retire. Unable to flee Austria, he was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto in 1942. He survived the ghetto and returned to Vienna on July 7, 1945 but never reclaimed the books which had been part of a collection he had been forced to sell under duress to a dealer in antique books in Vienna.
“From here, the books were sent to at least eight institutions, which have now formed a consortium in order to undertake the joint return (restitution),” the project said.
The institutions include the Badische Landesbibliothek in Karlsruhe, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, the library of Vienna University of Economics and Business, the Saxon State and University Library in Dresden, the Bremen State and University Library, the Graz University Library, the Vienna University Library, and the Berlin Central and State Library.
In the early 1990s, the Bremen State and University Library was one of the first libraries in Germany to research and restitute books looted by the Nazi to their rightful owners or their heirs.
“We are delighted that a consortium of German and Austrian libraries together with the heirs has now found a fair and just solution in line with the Washington Principles,” said Maria Elisabeth Müller, Director of Bremen State and University Library.
“The resulting restitution stipulates that the stolen books are first handed over to a private individual named by the heirs, and subsequently taken over by the Supreme Court of Vienna (OGH) at the request of the heirs.”