Searching for Nazi-Looted Books at the National Library of Israel

  • Daniel Lipson (Autor/in)

Identifier (Artikel)


From 1949 and into the 1970s hundreds of thousands of books, looted by the Nazis during the Second World War, arrived in Israel. The National Library of Israel, which led most of this operation, kept tens of thousands of them for its own collection. The remaining books were distributed across the country and used in other libraries, in schools, synagogues, and yeshivot. The books received by the National Library were designated a shelf number, cataloged, indexed and found their places among the shelves with the rest of the collection. In the coming years, identifying them as looted items was usually a matter of luck since their provenance was never mentioned in the bibliographic record. The origins of most of the library’s collections are listed in old accession books. By leafing through the pages of these accession books we were able to identify nearly 8.500 of the looted books. The books’ bibliographic data were pulled from the library management system which enabled bibliometric analysis and a better understanding of the National Library’s collection building policies during the years after the Holocaust and the establishment of the state of Israel.

Keywords: National Library of Israel; Nazi loot; book provenance; bibliographic data; Otzrot HaGolah


National Library of Israel, Nazi loot, book provenance, bibliographic data, Otzrot HaGolah