A New Chapter: Unveiling the ‘Library of Lost Books’

On November 28th the ‘Library of Lost Books’ debuted at the State Library in Berlin. This collaborative effort, spearheaded by the Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) Jerusalem, Leo Baeck Institute London, and the Friends Association of the Leo Baeck Institute, aims to shed light on the stories behind the books looted during the Second World War. Thanks to the support of the State Library this virtual project found a brief physical home in Berlin.

Director of LBI Jerusalem, Dr. Irene Aue-Ben-David, introduced the project. Curator Bettina Farack provided a virtual tour, offering insights into the stories and historical contexts of the ‘Library of Lost Books’. Deputy Director of LBI London, Kinga Bloch, led a conversation with Dr. Andrea Despot and Prof. Tobias Ebbrecht-Hartmann, discussing the evolving nature of commemoration and the challenges of educational projects. Additionally, Shimon Stein, Chairman of the Friends Association of LBI and former Ambassador of Israel to Germany, contributed with his perspective on the historical relevance of the Hochschule.

Prof. Achim Bonte, General Director of the State Library, extended a warm welcome to the ‘Library of Lost Books’, highlighting the significance of provenance research and the potential of new methodological approaches like crowdsourcing.

The event concluded with a reception, where attendees shared insights and experiences on historical education, provenance research and cultural heritage.

Looking ahead, the ‘Library of Lost Books’ plans to expand its impact in Berlin through a series of “book searching action days.” These events, organized in collaboration with various Berlin institutions, libraries, museums, and schools, aim to involve the community in the search for looted books. We extend our heartfelt thanks to our partners: Central and Regional Library of Berlin, University Library of Freie Universität, Jewish Museum Berlin, Jewish Community of Berlin, New Synagogue Berlin – Centrum Judaicum, Paula Fürst School, and Lise Meitner School Falkensee for their invaluable support.

This project is funded by the foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ) and the German Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF), as part of the Education Agenda NS-Injustice.

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