Symbolbild Historical background

Book theft under National Socialism

Under National Socialism, not only was there a gigantic theft of art, but books were also expropriated on a grand scale. The victims were mainly Jews, but also trade unions, monasteries and institutions of political opponents in Germany, Austria and the territories conquered during the war. This book theft was part of a Europe-wide enterprise, a thoroughly organized struggle for ideological supremacy, profit and trophies. Public libraries were “cleansed” of forbidden literature, academic libraries throughout the “German Reich” were beneficiaries of all these assaults, given the spoils, which they unscrupulously annexed to their holdings.

Book theft in Salzburg

It is little known that in the years from 1938 to 1945 there was also book robbery in the regional environment of Salzburg. For example, the National Socialist “Forschungsgemeinschaft Deutsches Ahnenerbe” took over the library of the “Katholischer Universitätsverein”. Schloss Leopoldskron, which belonged to the Jewish director and co-founder of the Salzburg Festival, Max Reinhardt, was confiscated along with his extensive book collection. Salzburg monasteries and other Catholic institutions were dissolved, and the libraries belonging to them were transferred to the Study Library and its director Ernst Frisch for administration. Frisch hoped to bring the valuable holdings of the expropriated libraries into the possession of “his” study library and thus upgrade it to one of the most important libraries of the “German Reich”.