The Library of Lost Books

Contact

Heads of Project:

  • Irene Aue-Ben David (LBI Jerusalem)
  • Joseph Cronin (LBI London)
  • Jakob Kroneck (FuF Berlin)

Curator

Bettina Farack

A Project by

Funded by

A Pioneering Search for Jewish Books Looted by the Nazis

The Library of Lost Books project is dedicated to recovering the lost collection of the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies in Berlin. This pre-WWII Jewish studies library housed over 60,000 volumes before the Nazis stole them in 1942. Despite wartime losses, about 5,000 books have been rediscovered in collections worldwide so far.

The Largest Citizen Science Initiative of Its Kind

This project marks the first global call to the public for assistance in locating these lost treasures. The Leo Baeck Institute, with support from the German Foundation for Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ) and the German Ministry of Finance (BMF), has created a dedicated platform for this endeavor. The Library of Lost Books website features a database, an interactive map, and an online exhibition detailing the history and legacy of the Higher Institute. Additionally, a traveling exhibition related to this project will visit locations in Israel, Europe, and the US during 2023 and 2024.

Discover Our Stories

Explore our growing collection of blog articles for an inside perspective on the project. These posts range from details of our Berlin launch event to accounts of individual book searches. They provide a glimpse into our methodologies and the unique histories of the books we find. To stay updated with the latest developments, sign up for our newsletter.

Join Esther Zyskina from Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem for an exciting look behind the scenes of provenance research and follow the journey of a book from Jerusalem to Berlin and back to Jerusalem.
Meet Adele Sperling, a librarian at the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies, who played a key role in ensuring book access for readers during a critical time in history. This article explores her role at the Institute and the challenges it faced under Nazi repression.
In 2021, even before the ‘Library of Lost Books’ was established, historian Amit Levy emerged as our first-ever book detective. Working on his doctoral thesis at the National Library of Israel (NLI), he unearthed a lost book from the Higher Institute’s library. His response? Sharing this find with the world through a tweet. We spoke to him about the significance of his find and his tips for future book detectives.
Berlin-Falkensee’s 24 young book detectives made exciting discoveries at the Berlin State Library on December 5, 2023. They examined over 100 books, finding unique provenance marks like a dedication stamp from the Association of Jewish Youth Organizations. Guest author Regine Dehnel of the Berlin State Library details these findings.
Preparations for the project launch in Britain are well underway. Read more about a spin-off exhibition, a partner workshop and other activities preparing the arrival of the Library of Lost Books in the UK.
On November 28, 2023, ‘The Library of Lost Books’ made its debut at the Berlin State Library. Read more about the opening event here.
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