Exploration Phase: Citizen Science and Provenance Research:
Project to develop the UnLoot app
Between 1933 and 1945, the National Socialist regime carried out an unprecedented plunder of books. It was especially Jewish libraries that fell prey to the theft. Today, 80 years later, we are still facing its consequences: books stolen by the Nazis are dispersed over collections worldwide. And many of these books are still waiting to be identified. To help advance the search for Nazi looted books currently in public and private collections, the Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem and Freie Universität Berlin are currently exploring the potential of a mobile application, available to everyone. Because an app will make it much easier to become actively involved with the complex topic of provenance research, we expect it to open up a field hitherto dominated by experts to a much broader audience.
Stamps, bookplates and other traces that owners have left inside the books play a key role in this project. AI-based image analysis will enable the users of the app to easily match an ownership mark that they had come across against an existing database of provenance marks. Once the ownership mark is identified, the app will provide the users with additional information about the owners and the fate of their books. Additionally, the app will invite its users to share their finds, to help decipher textual information of unidentified ownership marks and to actively contribute to the search for Nazi looted books. Our target audience are citizen scientists, book enthusiasts, private collectors, provenance researchers and librarians.
Irene Aue-Ben-David, Director of Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem
Ringo Narewski, Head of the Provenance Research Office at the University Library of Freie Universität Berlin
Doctoral student at Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem
Provenance Researcher at Zentral und Landesbibliothek Berlin
University Library of Freie Universität Berlin
Provenance Researcher at Freie Universität Berlin
Provenance Researcher at Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin
Data Scientist, Israel