Thursday, May 24, 2007

Stolen Jewish Library May be in Russia

The Times reports today on the longstanding hunt for a stolen library: the collection of the Rome synagogue, looted by the Nazis in 1943. Some or all of the 7,000 missing volumes are now believed to be in an "abandoned Soviet military archive" or "warehouse or other undocumented location," according to the Italian government. The search for the library, which is privately funded, is being assisted by Ekaterina Genieva, director of the Library of Foreign Literature in Moscow.

"The collection, known as the Library of the Jewish Communities, includes illuminated manuscripts, books and Torahs and Bibles printed in the 16th and 17th century. There are works of philosophy, mathematics and astronomy, as well as religious works. A 1324 copy of a treatise on medicine by the Arabic scholar and philosopher Avicenna was one of the library’s gems." The books were taken from Rome in two groups in October and December of 1943, and are believed to have been swept up by the Soviets as they pushed through Germany at the end of the war.