Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

Restitution: Successful project by the University Library of Rostock bears fruit

Date 2016.05.20

On Wednes­day, the Uni­ver­si­ty Li­brary of Ro­s­tock of­fi­cial­ly re­turned nine books from its col­lec­tion to Au­drey Good­man, the sole heiress of the Jew­ish fam­i­ly Malz­er. The resti­tu­tion is the re­sult of the sys­tem­at­ic in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the li­brary’s col­lec­tions to iden­ti­fy Nazi con­fis­cat­ed prop­er­ty, a project which the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion is fi­nanc­ing for a pe­ri­od of two years.

To mark the oc­ca­sion, Na­dine Bauer, re­search as­so­ciate of the Prove­nance Re­search De­part­ment at the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion, gave the wel­com­ing speech at the of­fi­cial resti­tu­tion cer­e­mo­ny: "To­day’s resti­tu­tion con­firms that the work of the Foun­da­tion, found­ed in 2015, is bear­ing fruit. The fact that the project of the Uni­ver­si­ty Li­brary of Ro­s­tock re­sult­ed in resti­tu­tion to the heiress is a suc­cess."

The books had be­longed to Ba­bette Malz­er, who died in 1937. Her es­tate be­came the prop­er­ty of Max Malz­er and his fam­i­ly. Pri­or to the out­break of World War II, the fam­i­ly was forced to flee to Lon­don; their books were il­le­gal­ly con­fis­cat­ed by the Nazis. In 1942, a por­tion of the es­tate was hand­ed over to the Uni­ver­si­ty Li­brary of Ro­s­tock as a do­na­tion by the city’s may­or. It is al­most im­pos­si­ble to re­con­struct the trail of the books be­tween the fam­i­ly’s em­i­gra­tion to Lon­don and their in­clu­sion in­to the Uni­ver­si­ty Li­brary of Ro­s­tock in 1942.

The Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion has fund­ed such prove­nance re­search projects at 25 Ger­man li­braries so far. Three more li­braries ap­plied for project fund­ing this spring.

The Uni­ver­si­ty Li­brary of Ro­s­tock is the sec­ond in­sti­tu­tion af­ter the Staatlich­es Mu­se­um Schw­erin (project 2009-2013) to sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly in­ves­ti­gate its col­lec­tions for Nazi con­fis­cat­ed prop­er­ty.

Project de­scrip­tion

Audrey Goodman and the director of the University Library of Rostock, Robert Zepf Audrey Goodman and the director of the University Library of Rostock, Robert Zepf Audrey Goodman and the director of the University Library of Rostock, Robert Zepf Source:  Thomas Rahr/University of Rostock