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CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
e-mail: melvin-shaw@uiowa.edu

Release: April 24, 2001

Libraries bookplate identifies books confiscated during the Holocaust

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Libraries has developed a bookplate to acknowledge the origin of books in its collection known to have been confiscated during the Holocaust by the Nazi government and acquired decades ago from a Jewish cultural organization.

The UI Libraries and 48 university and other United States libraries, received more than 158,000 items from the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction Inc., which after WWII, distributed books, manuscripts and other property recovered by the U.S. Army, which was unable to establish prior ownership.

The UI has identified 60 such volumes in its stacks, three of them in housed in the special collections department, said Edward Shreeves, director of collections and information resources, who credits Sid Huttner, head of special collections, for coming up with the bookplate language.

Shreeves said many of the items are quite ordinary in terms of their monetary value. Although Libraries' records show the UI requested 180 titles when the books were distributed more than 50 years ago, sketchy bibliographic information has made it difficult to locate them among the Libraries' four million volumes. Shreeves expects the Libraries will discover additional volumes later.

"The bookplate is a very small way to acknowledge the tragic history associated with these books," Shreeves said.

The bookplate was created in response to a report published last January by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States, charged with conducting original research into the fate of assets -- manuscripts, art, and other items -- taken from victims of the Holocaust by the Nazis and their collaborators.

Iowa City Rabbi Jeff Portman was consulted and found the language of the bookplate appropriate, Shreeves said.

The bookplate copy reads: "This book was one of millions of books and documents confiscated from their owners by the German National Socialist (NAZI) Government. At the end of World War II, it passed through a U.S. Army processing center in Offenbach, Germany, which was unable to determine its prior owner or country of origin and became one of 500,000 books placed in the hands of the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc. for distribution to American colleges and universities. In this way, it came into the collection of the University of Iowa Libraries in 1951."