Public Presentation of Looted Cultural Assets Database on March 10, 2016
A database of cultural assets looted during the period of National Socialism will be presented to the public on March 10. The presentation of the interactive collection Looted Cultural Assets will take place in the Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin - Centrum Judaicum. The presenters are Sebastian Finsterwalder (Zentralund Landesbibliothek Berlin, Provenance Research) and Sina Latza (University Library, Freie Universität, Restitution of Nazi-looted Books). The event will be opened by the founding rector of the New Synagogue Berlin, Dr. Hermann Simon. During the event, representatives of the media and other interested parties will have an opportunity to test the access to the database and to view the exhibition »Geraubt und genutzt« - Bücher von verfolgten und ermordeten Juden in Berliner Bibliotheken. The event is public, and admission is free. Because of the security controls, we recommend that you arrive at 1:30. Advance sign-up is requested. If interested, please send an email to Ms. Wiebke Trebbin at info [a] centrumjudaicum (p) de.
The database lists the results of searches for cultural assets stolen by Nazis in the collections of several libraries in Berlin and Brandenburg. They include the library of the New Synagogue Berlin - Centrum Judaicum, the University Library of Freie Universität Berlin, the University Library of Universität Potsdam, and the Zentralund Landesbibliothek Berlin. "The special feature of the database is that it lists all the previous owners that were found in the participating libraries and provides information about the research results," says Ringo Narewski (head of the Restitution of Nazi-looted Books unit and deputy head of user services at the University Library, Freie Universität).
Internally, the information is linked to individual provenances from the various projects, which makes it possible to process individual cases in common. Since 2013 the University Library of Freie Universität Berlin has been working to develop a better network of projects in Berlin and Brandenburg that deal with cultural assets stolen during the Nazi period. "Interested public institutions may participate in the cooperation, and all of the partners will benefit from the experiences of each other," continues Narewski. With its approach of including research results of all the involved projects, which makes one’s own work more transparent, and being open to the work of other institutions as well as interested laypersons, Looted Cultural Assets closes a gap in provenance research in German libraries.
The exhibition "Geraubt und genutzt," which was sponsored by the German Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media, displays selected examples of looted books and tells the stories of their rightful owners and their descendants. The Zentralund Landesbibliothek Berlin and the Centrum Judaicum provide insights into the young field of provenance research on goods looted by Nazis that have found their way into German libraries.