Bayerische Staatsbibliothek restitutes 56 books in total
The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library—BSB) in Munich is returning 56 unlawfully acquired books from its holdings to two institutions and one individual. The works have been identified as Nazi-confiscated property.
The Grand National Mother Lodge “The Three Globes” (GNML), based in Berlin, will receive back 45 books that were unlawfully acquired by the BSB. From 1933 onwards, the National Socialists began to force the closure of German Masonic lodges, abolishing them completely two years later and persecuting many freemasons. The restituted works came into the possession of the BSB in 1938/39 via an exchange transaction with the SS school “Haus Wewelsburg”.
The BSB is also returning 10 titles of the Kartell der freiheitlichen Vereine (cartel of freethinkers’ associations) in Munich to the Dachverband Freier Weltanschauungsgemeinschaften e. V. (umbrella association of free worldview congregations). The cartel’s local group was banned in 1933. These books were seized by the Secret State Police (Gestapo). Some of the books are stamped with the ownership mark of Max Riess, one of the cartel's founding members.
The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has already returned a 1922 edition of Rosa Luxemburg's “Koalitionspolitik oder Klassenkampf?” to Ernst Grube, the great-grandson of the original owner Wilhelm Olschewski. Wilhelm Olschewski and Wilhelm Olschewski Jr., father and son, were active members of the communist resistance during the Second World War. They were murdered by the National Socialists. The book is presumed to have been confiscated in 1942 and then given to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. It is stamped with the ownership mark “Wilh. Olschewski”.
The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has been investigating its own holdings for Nazi-confiscated property since 2003. The German Lost Art Foundation has been involved in supporting many of its provenance research projects since 2013.