Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

Foundation as mediator: Heirs of Paul Graf Yorck von Wartenburg receive Kleist’s “Käthchen von Heilbronn” back

Date 2017.02.09

With sup­port from the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion in Magde­burg, the heirs of Paul Graf Yor­ck von Warten­burg have re­ceived back a vol­ume from the Sem­bd­ner Kleist archive in Heil­bronn. The count’s col­lec­tion was lost af­ter the Sec­ond World War and is to­day classed as loot­ed prop­er­ty. The heirs are do­nat­ing the work to the archive as a gift.

Dur­ing a re­view of its hold­ings, the Sem­bd­ner Kleist archive reg­is­tered the book’s li­brary stamp “Graf Yor­ck Klein-Oels Ma­jo­rats-Bib­lio­thek” and learned from the Lost Art Database op­er­at­ed by the Foun­da­tion that a search re­port had been reg­is­tered for the col­lec­tion be­long­ing to the Count of Warten­burg. The Foun­da­tion got in touch with the heirs, who had en­tered a search re­port for the col­lec­tion in the database in 2005, and es­tab­lished con­tact. De­light­ed with the ef­forts of the Sem­bd­ner Kleist archive, the heirs are leav­ing the work to the archive.

The vol­ume is en­ti­tled “Das Käthchen von Heil­bronn. Großes ro­man­tis­ches Rit­ter­schaus­piel in fünf Aufzü­gen” (1834) by Hein­rich von Kleist. The Sem­bd­ner Kleist archive had pur­chased the work in 2014 from an an­ti­quar­i­an book­seller in Mu­nich.

Paul Graf Yor­ck von Warten­burg, the last own­er of Klein Oels palace in Ohlau (Sile­sia), was im­pris­oned from Ju­ly 20, 1944, as a re­sis­tance fight­er. His prop­er­ty was ex­pro­pri­at­ed and he was held in Sach­sen­hausen con­cen­tra­tion camp un­til the end of the war. De­spite his im­pris­on­ment, he man­aged to en­sure the most valu­able books were tak­en to the or­angery at the palace of Count Schaf­fgotsch in Warm­brunn. From there, the provin­cial con­ser­va­tor of Low­er Sile­sia, Grund­mann, was able to trans­port around 800 vol­umes to the west by train in Jan­uary 1945. These are still in the fam­i­ly’s pos­ses­sion.

One to two thou­sand vol­umes from the Klein Oels li­brary were tak­en to the So­vi­et Union by the So­vi­et Tro­phy Com­mis­sions at the end of the war, with the ma­jor­i­ty of these now found in sev­en Rus­sian li­braries. The sub­stan­tial re­main­ing part of the col­lec­tion end­ed up in the hold­ings of li­braries in Wro­claw, War­saw and Lodz af­ter the war. Time and again, books be­long­ing to the Yor­ck fam­i­ly make their way back on­to the Ger­man mar­ket from there.