CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: April 24, 2001
Libraries bookplate identifies books confiscated during the Holocaust
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Libraries has developed a bookplate
to acknowledge the origin of books in its collection known to have been confiscated
during the Holocaust by the Nazi government and acquired decades ago from
a Jewish cultural organization.
The UI Libraries and 48 university and other United States libraries, received
more than 158,000 items from the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction Inc., which
after WWII, distributed books, manuscripts and other property recovered by
the U.S. Army, which was unable to establish prior ownership.
The UI has identified 60 such volumes in its stacks, three of them in housed
in the special collections department, said Edward Shreeves, director of collections
and information resources, who credits Sid Huttner, head of special collections,
for coming up with the bookplate language.
Shreeves said many of the items are quite ordinary in terms of their monetary
value. Although Libraries' records show the UI requested 180 titles when the
books were distributed more than 50 years ago, sketchy bibliographic information
has made it difficult to locate them among the Libraries' four million volumes.
Shreeves expects the Libraries will discover additional volumes later.
"The bookplate is a very small way to acknowledge the tragic history
associated with these books," Shreeves said.
The bookplate was created in response to a report published last January
by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United
States, charged with conducting original research into the fate of assets
-- manuscripts, art, and other items -- taken from victims of the Holocaust
by the Nazis and their collaborators.
Iowa City Rabbi Jeff Portman was consulted and found the language of the
bookplate appropriate, Shreeves said.
The bookplate copy reads: "This book was one of millions of books and
documents confiscated from their owners by the German National Socialist (NAZI)
Government. At the end of World War II, it passed through a U.S. Army processing
center in Offenbach, Germany, which was unable to determine its prior owner
or country of origin and became one of 500,000 books placed in the hands of
the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc. for distribution to American colleges
and universities. In this way, it came into the collection of the University
of Iowa Libraries in 1951."