MOSES MENDELSSOHN STIFTUNG

Libraries & Databases

At the Berend Lehmann Museum and the Moses Mendelssohn Academy, we dedicate ourselves to various research projects on German Jewry, especially the Halberstadt community. Over the years since the Moses Mendelssohn Academy was founded, various libraries have come into our possession, some from estates and some on loan.

We are currently building up our digital database to ensure sustainable documentation.

Libraries

Exile library of the Austrian-Israeli historian Walter Grab:

Walter Grab was a Jewish emigrant from Austria who settled in Palestine. He studied history and English, became politically active and campaigned for democratic ideals. After returning to Germany, he completed his doctorate and became a professor of history. His research focused on democratic movements in Germany and Heinrich Heine as a political poet. Grab was a committed opponent of Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon and took part in protests against nuclear weapons. His life and work continue to be researched and discussed.

Scope of the library:

Library of the former Jewish community of East Berlin.

After the reunification between the BDR and GDR, the library of the Jewish community in West Berlin became the main library. Some of the volumes of the Jewish community of East Berlin were included in their collection. Part of this library came into the possession of the Moses Mendelssohn Academy in Halberstadt.

The research project "Buchbestand Ernst Wolff. (Project management Prof. Dr. Angela Kolb-Janssen)

The later film entrepreneur Ernst Wolff (1903-1963) found books that had been confiscated from Jews before their deportation in the spring of 1947 during clean-up work shortly before the reopening of the youth synagogue on Kreuzberg’s Fraenkel Ufer after the end of the Second World War. This part of the synagogue building had been misused since 1943 by the art and looted goods dealer Rudolf Sobczyk (1893-1975) as a warehouse and salesroom for home furnishings from the assets of deported Berlin Jews.

After the death of Ernst Wolff, his heir Manfred Wolff took over the book collection, which had been stored in the meantime, and handed it over to the Moses Mendelssohn Academy Halberstadt in 2018 for academic research. The collection donated to the MMA by Manfred Wolff comprises around 3500 volumes and several hundred archival inserts. Bibliographically, the collection consists of everyday books and books of daily use from mainly private contexts.

Under the scientific direction of Nora M. Kissling (Berlin), the library and archival recording of the collection will be carried out first. Existing provenance features are saved digitally. This data is to be transferred to the LDC and the Lost Art Database in order to find legal successors to the original owners. The aim of the project is to restitute as many books as possible.

The project is funded by the German Lost Art Foundation, the Moses Mendelssohn Foundation and Mr. Manfred Wolff.

Storage of books in boxes
Mold infestation
Restitution of the first books of the Berlin lawyer Ludwig Chodziesner

Restitution as part of the book project "Ernst Wolff book collection"

Prof. Dr. Angela Kolb-Janssen

Restitution of books by the famous Berlin lawyer Ludwig Chodziesner to his great-grandson Paul Chodziesner

When the successful lawyer Ludwig Chodziesner was disbarred after 45 years on July 13, 1936, it was the beginning of his complete legal and human destruction. In January 1939, he was forced to move into a Jewish home with his daughter Gertrud Kolmar when he was very old. His villa was forcibly sold. Two days before his deportation, Ludwig Chodziesner had to fill out the so-called “declaration of assets” on September 7, 1942, which also listed a bookcase. On September 9, 1942, he was deported to Theresienstadt, where he died on February 13, 1943.

A “Commentary on the General German Commercial Code” (J.J. Heines Verlag Berlin) from 1894, “Homer’s Odyssey” from B.G. Teubner Verlag, a Baedecker travel guide to Switzerland from 1913, a Greek-German school dictionary from B.G. Teubner Verlag Leipzig from 1879 and other books were found by Ernst Wolff during clearing work in the synagogue on Fraenkelufer in 1945. They are being researched as part of a research project on the “Ernst Wolff book collection” funded by the German Lost Art Foundation, the Moses Mendelssohn Foundation and Manfred Wolff. The Moses Mendelssohn Academy has set itself the goal of identifying the original owners on the basis of name entries, bookplates and other annotations and restituting as many books as possible to their legal successors.

Paul Chodziesner is the first descendant of a Jew expropriated by the National Socialists to whom the Moses Mendelssohn Academy Halberstadt can return his great-grandfather’s books on February 14, 2024. For Paul Chodziesner and his family, this is a very moving moment: “The more the history is illuminated, the more you understand what my ancestors went through,” he says on the occasion of the book handover.

The Moses Mendelssohn Academy Halberstadt is pleased to be able to give back a piece of family history to the descendants of Jews dispossessed during National Socialism through this research project.

Pictures

Below you will find various pictures and videos of the project.

Photo: Jörg Felgner

Wolff book project:

Restitution of books from the Berlin lawyer Ludwig Chodziesner to his great-grandson Paul Chodziesner.

Left: Ernst Wolff

Right: Paul Chodziesner

Photo: Jörg Felgner

“A very moving moment for us. We are giving back a piece of family history”

Excerpt from the speech by Prof. Dr. Julius H. Schoeps, Chairman of the Board of the Moses Mendelssohn Foundation

Photo: Jörg Felgner

Speech by the project coordinator, Prof. Dr. Angela Kolb-Janssen, Director of the Moses Mendelssohn Academy.

Photo: Jörg Felgner

Book inventory that was restituted.

In our online database you can find more information about the items in our collection.

Database

Below you will find various information on projects and libraries:

Downloads

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Order catalog

Would you like to find out more about the Halberstadt Jewish community? You are welcome to order our detailed catalog of our newly created permanent exhibition.