Research Unit Law

Books from the »Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums« and the National Library in Jerusalem

The research project focuses on the fate of books stemming from the »Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums« that were incorporated into the holdings of the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem (JNUL; today, National Library of Israel). In the immediate postwar period, the JNUL was one of the major recipients of Nazi-looted Jewish libraries and archives, serving as a representative of the vast majority of the Yishuv’s (and later Israel’s) Jewish communities and cultural institutions in restitution negotiations. The library received an estimated number of about 500.000 volumes from Europe, including hundreds of thousands of books of German-Jewish provenance, among them the book collections belonging to the Hochschule that were discovered after the war in Czechoslovakia. Against this background, I explore the transfer of the Hochschule books to Jerusalem from Prague, and their subsequent redistribution in Israel. Relying entirely on the examination of largely unknown primary sources, I seek to shed light on the development of German-Jewish cultural heritage in Israel after the Holocaust. The project contributes to the postwar historiography of the Hochschule’s library, of the JNUL, and more generally, to the cultural historiography of the State of Israel and its hidden and often contested German-Jewish traditions.