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The Library of Lost Books

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Wiener Holocaust Library, Russell Square, London

Our latest exhibition brings the story of the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies in Berlin (1872–1942) and its library into the heart of London.

The Library of Lost Books is an international project which aims to commemorate and educate about the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies in Berlin (Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums, 1872–1942). This institute, operating from 1872 until it was closed down by the Nazis in 1942, was dedicated to the study of Jewish history and culture, as well as rabbinical studies in Liberal Judaism.

This exhibition, the first of its kind in the UK, tells the story of the Hochschule – from a vibrant space for German-Jewish learning to a victim of Nazi crime.

During the Holocaust, the Hochschule’s unique library of books was looted by the Nazis and scattered across the globe. The exhibition reveals the complex journeys Nazi-looted books took in the aftermath of the Shoah. It also aims to inform about the Nazis’ assault on a community of scholars, students and staff at an important German-Jewish institution.

Whilst book burnings are a common image in the popular imagination, little is known about the systematic theft of Jewish libraries by the Nazis. The latter aimed at abusing Jewish publications and scholarship for what the Nazis called ‘enemy studies’ to ‘scientifically prove’ their antisemitic ideology. This exhibition reveals this relatively unknown assault on Jewish history and culture.

Alongside a series of online and physical exhibitions, The Library of Lost Books project also includes a global citizen science project to trace the 60,000 lost works. So far, books have been found in Germany, the Czech Republic, Israel, the USA, and in Britain.

Through rediscovering this lost library, the project aims to reveal the global impact of one aspect of the destruction of the Holocaust and how it reverberates around the world today. By participating in the search, ordinary people can contribute to elucidating a mystery that has thus far gone unsolved, and a sense of justice in the face of a Nazi atrocity.

The Library of Lost Books is a joint project by the Leo Baeck Institutes in Jerusalem and London and the Freunde und Förderer e.V. Berlin. It is part of the Education Agenda NS-Injustice, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Justice and the Foundation EVZ/ Remembrance, Responsibility, Future.


Press enquiries: Please download the press release here.


Exhibition events:


LBI Wiener Holocaust Library