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"Orphaned and Homeless": UNESCO and the Fate of Jewish Books in Post-Holocaust Europe

When Nov 01, 2016
from 04:30 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library
Contact Name

A lecture by Dr. Miriam Intrator

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 4:30 p.m., in Foster Auditorium. 

While Nazi theft and destruction led to the demise of most Jewish libraries in Europe, the trophy collecting and “research” impulses of Hitler and his henchmen resulted in a sizeable portion of Europe’s Jewish books surviving Nazi plunder, albeit devastatingly scattered, at World War II’s end. Many at the time identified these books as survivors, akin to displaced persons. Historian Lucy S. Dawidowicz, for example, referred to books that could not be restituted as “orphaned and homeless mute survivors.” In response, a cohort of Jewish and non-Jewish cultural and political leaders and librarians formulated a highly contested and ultimately unsuccessful plan for a portion of these to remain in Europe, in a new, specifically-constructed World Jewish Library, under the auspices of the nascent United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This talk will argue that the proposed Library was emblematic of a vision for a Jewish future in post-Holocaust Europe that existed outside of Israel and the US in surviving communities.


Sponsored by: The Jewish Studies Program, Patee Library, Center for Humanities and Information, and History Department.