Books from August Liebmann Mayer’s library – confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution – in ZI library holdings
- PD Dr. Christian Fuhrmeister
Dr. Stephan Klingen
Projektbericht_Ansprechpartner_FunktionLeiter der Photothek, Leiter EDV
- February 2016 to July 2016
In 1942, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (Reichsleiter Rosenberg’s special task force, ERR) seized the private library of the Jewish art historian August Liebmann Mayer (1885–1944) in Paris. Mayer had emigrated to France from Munich in 1936. His specialist library was intended to go to Hermann Göring, but the ERR placed it in storage at Kogl Castle to protect it from air raids. It was later discovered there by American forces and taken to the Central Collecting Point (CCP) in Munich. The CCP transferred the books to the library of the newly established Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte on May 3, 1947 (see annexes 7 and 8 of the application).
Initial research carried out by Susanne Kienlechner and Dr. Christian Fuhrmeister indicated that a number of Mayer’s books remained in the ZI library to the present day.
Mayer’s private library was confirmed to be a cultural asset seized through Nazi persecution, for which a fair and just solution needed to be sought in accordance with the Washington Principles of 1998.
The aim of the (short-term) project was to obtain certainty regarding individual books from August Liebmann Mayer’s collection in the library of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, and restitute them. Time was and is of the essence because Mayer’s (childless) daughter is already over 85 years old and has lived in a care home for seniors in Los Angeles since 2014. Her appointed legal representative (attorney Markus Stötzel, Marburg) also indicated that he was considering a restitution claim against the ZI for books originating from the Mayer collection.
The project in numbers
Of the approx. 573,000 books currently in the ZI library holdings, around 52,000 originate from the initial period in which basic stock from the CCP was incorporated into the library; these therefore needed to be checked.
Approx. 21,000 books were systematically checked in detail during the course of the project. The project focused on these books in particular because their subject area corresponded either with Mayer’s own publications or with the research fields in which he is known to have worked particularly intensively.
As far as can be ascertained
- 7 works clearly originate from the collection of A. L. Mayer, and
- 16 works offer sufficient evidence to suggest it is very likely they could be classified as part of the collection – and therefore, having considered all factors and in accordance with the stipulations of the Washington Principles, we believe they are also cultural assets seized as a result of Nazi persecution.
In respect of the 21,000 volumes checked, the proportion of books to be restituted to the daughter of A. L. Mayer is therefore 0.1 percent.
- Project page on the ZI website: http://www.zikg.eu/projekte/projekte-zi/buecher-aus-der-ns-verfolgungsbedingt-entzogenen-bibliothek-von-august-liebmann-mayer-in-der-bibliothek-des-zi
- Planned official restitution of the books to the legal representative of the heir, Angelika Mayer, as part of the 8th colloquium on provenance and collection research at the ZI on November 30, 2016
- Corresponding entry in the ZI’s OPAC and in kubikat (and thus also in the Art Discovery Group Catalogue)
- Possible presentation of the project at the international conference “Where are the libraries that were looted by the Nazis? Identification and restoration: a work in progress” in Paris in March 2017 (an application responding to the call for papers was submitted by the deadline)