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Theresienstadt, Prag, Heidelberg

Stationen eines geraubten Buches aus der Bibliothek von Hugo Friedmann

Philipp Zschommler

Pages 61 - 80

The value of objects such as books can be defined in many different ways throughout history. It is always dependent on the respective context in which an attribution is made. A book from the library of the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg makes it possible to understand the different ways in which a book is viewed. Conversely, it reflects the needs and ideas of their collectors. A book from the collection of Hugo Friedmann (1901–1945) allows us to address some of these aspects of collecting. As part of a project on provenance research, the book’s journey has been reconstructed, from its acquisition by the original owner to its current handling. Above all, it bears witness to the violent extermination of the Jewish Friedmann family during the Shoa. The family owned not only an art collection in their Viennese home, but also a library. When the family was deported to Theresienstadt, Hugo Friedmann took books with him – including the book mentioned above. Presumably it was incorporated into the Ghetto library there and taken to Prague after the family was murdered. There it was stored in the Jewish Museum until a Czech rabbi – Emil Davidovič – took it and brought it to Germany in the 1960s. After his death in 1986, the Hochschule acquired it for academic purposes. When the suspicion that it was looted property was confirmed and we had identified the descendants, we were able to restitute it. Even though the Hochschule gave the book away, we would like to preserve the value we ascribed to it, namely an appreciation of the Friedmann family.


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