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Information HuntersWhen Librarians, Soldiers, and Spies Banded Together in World War II Europe$
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Kathy Peiss

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190944612

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190944612.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 October 2021

Not a Library, but a Large Depot of Loot

Not a Library, but a Large Depot of Loot

(p.170) Chapter 7 Not a Library, but a Large Depot of Loot
Information Hunters

Kathy Peiss

Oxford University Press

The discovery of looted books at the end of the war, especially those from Jewish libraries, tested the American military government. Gathering, conserving, and identifying them posed intractable challenges, even as American authorities faced domestic and international pressures over the Jewish books in particular. The Monuments Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) unit of the US Army, known as the Monuments Men, requisitioned Frankfurt’s Rothschild Library and later moved to a warehouse known as the Offenbach Archival Depot to establish operations for book restitution. This required innovative methods of librarianship designed to quickly manage and redistribute disarrayed and damaged volumes. The American government finally authorized Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc. to handle the unidentifiable and heirless books, many of which came to the United States. For the Americans, these endangered books generated new understandings of the meaning of book collections, ownership, restitution, and cultural heritage.

Keywords:   looted books, restitution, MFAA, Monuments Men, Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Offenbach Archival Depot

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