Investigators Track Nazis' Looted Books

A million plundered volumes are still on German library shelves
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2008 11:20 AM CDT
Students study at one of the main libraries at the Freie Universitaet January 13, 2003 in Berlin, Germany.    (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – A handful of determined librarians are trying to reunite books stolen by the Nazis with their owners or their families, Der Spiegel reports. Experts believe at least a million such books are still on the shelves of libraries across Germany. Many carry a 'J' inscribed by Nazi-era librarians to indicate they were seized from the collections of Jews sent to extermination camps.

The investigators have had some heartening successes, but they say the vast majority of stolen books have yet to be uncovered, and their work is slowed by libraries unwilling to confront the past. Many libraries approach the issue "sluggishly and reluctantly," said the vice president of Germany's Central Council of Jews. "These books are sitting in the stacks like corpses in a cellar."