Book Looting during National Socialism  

The National Socialists did not only steal huge amounts of works of art, but also looted books en masse. The victims included Jews, trade unions, convents or institutions of political opponents in Germany, Austria, and the Nazi-occupied territories. Manuscripts, incunabula, banned literature, specialist literature of all kinds, school books or novels – valuable items as well as mass products: whole libraries changed owners by force.

This book theft happened in a Europe-wide network as an organized battle for ideological dominance, financial profit, and valuable trophies. In addition, all public libraries had to eliminate banned literature. These volumes were distributed to scholarly libraries throughout the German Reich which ruthlessly integrated the looted books into their inventory.

The looting of books in Salzburg  

Little is known of the book theft taking place in the region of Salzburg between 1938 and 1945, but it did happen. The National Socialist organization “Forschungsgemeinschaft Deutsches Ahnenerbe” took over the library of the „Katholischer Universitätsverein“ (i.e. the Catholic University Association). The voluminous library of the castle Schloss Leopoldskron which belonged to the Jewish director Max Reinhardt, a founder of the Salzburg Festival, was confiscated. Local convents and other Catholic institutions were dissolved and their libraries were transferred to the Studienbibliothek Salzburg and the custody of its director Ernst Frisch. He voluntarily performed this task despite the library’s shortage of staff in the hope of bringing the valuable objects of the looted collections into the possession of “his” Studienbibliothek. He aimed at raising its importance in the library hierarchy of the German Reich.


Abb. Buchraub Abb. Buchraub Abb. Buchraub

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