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UB Wien > Projekt Provenienzforschung > Sammlung Tanzenberg > Hintergrund > Abstract in English

Abstract in English

In the holdings of Vienna University Library one can find books with stamped or handwritten references to a "Sammlung Tanzenberg" on the back of their title pages. Usually the term "Sammlung" or "collection" is used for a cohesive grouping of items deliberately selected according to specific criteria. This cannot be said of the "Collection Tanzenberg".

The name points to a former Renaissance residence in Carinthia, which later was used as an Olivetan monastery and today is the home of an Austrian school. From September 1944 to May 1945 this building housed the Central Library of the "Hohe Schule der NSDAP", the planned NS party university. While this library was partly stocked with some legally acquired items its holdings contained books looted from all over Europe. The books found in Tanzenberg after WWII were first sorted and returned to previous owners under British army supervision until 1948. What was left was transferred first to the Klagenfurt Studienbibliothek and later to the Buechersortierungsstelle in Vienna.

Founded in 1949, the Buechersortierungsstelle was to sort and prepare for restitution looted and confiscated books. The remainder of seemingly "heirless" books was divided among Austrian institutions. A sizable number of books were received in trusteeship by Vienna University Library between 1950 and 1951. This involved the library taking over books from Tanzenberg, but also books from a group of confiscated books originally stored in Vienna's Dorotheum, from the former Vienna Gestapo library and from banned books handed over to the Austrian National Library by various institutions and libraries under the Nazi regime.

Between 1956 and 1959 some of these books were taken over in trusteeship, legally by the Isrealitische Kultusgemeinde, Vienna's Jewish community organisation, but factually by the Jewish National & University Library in Jerusalem. Only from the internal Vienna University library usage, the term "Sammlung Tanzenberg 1951" or "Tanzenberg collection" has become a - misleading - term for all the books taken over from the Buechersortierungsstelle. No longer was there any differentiation made according to the various sources of these books, although it was then often mistakenly assumed that all the books in this collection came from Tanzenberg. Furthermore the books were not kept in a separate collection but were integrated into the library's holdings, which means that they can be found in various yet to be established places in the library stacks.

The project documented by this website is meant as the basis for further research into the problematic "Sammlung Tanzenberg 1951" books in the holdings of Vienna University Library, many of which can be expected to be looted books. The project work was part of a library and information studies course at Vienna University Library.

Selected bibliography:
Adunka, Evelyn. The Nazi looting of books in Austria and their partial restitution.