“In case it is possible to do something in this regard.” Potentially looted property in the IOSʼs library
In the course of this project, funded by Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste, the Institute’s library will be checked for books, journals and maps that were looted under Nazi rule.
Published sources contain several hints that leading members of the Südost Institute as well as of the Osteuropa Institute were willing to acquire looted media, were in a position to do that, or both.
In his capacity as managing director of the Südost Institute in Munich, Fritz Valjavec (1908-1960) tried to get a share of looted books from Lower Styria. It is not clear whether he was successful in this attempt. During a stay in Romania and Western Ukraine in 1941, Valjavec gained possession of several crates of books. As of now, we do not know whether they were acquired legally or illegally, whether they were destined for the Institute or for Valjavecʼs private library, and whether those books arrived in Munich at all. The Südost Institute purchased Valjavecʼs private library in 1965.
During the war, Hans Koch (1894-1959), the Osteuropa Institute’s first director, was working for several institutions that participated in the looting of cultural property. It is possible that he used the opportunity to enrich himself. The Osteuropa Institute purchased his private library in 1959.
Last, but not least, there is Wilfried Krallert (1912-1969). During the war, he was head of the Publikationsstelle Vienna and also a member of Sonderkommando Künsberg that stole maps, statistical data and books in Eastern Europe. Krallert had close ties with both Valjavec and Koch. After the war, he sold the remnants of the Publikationsstelleʼs output as well as of its library stocked with looted media. Both Südost and Osteuropa Institutes were, among others, Krallertʼs customers. His widow Gertrud Krallert who was head of the Südost Institute’s library from 1960 to 1980, sold some books to the Südost Institute that could have been looted as well.
It is possible that the IOS and both of its predecessors unknowingly purchased looted media. The chances are quite high as Eastern Europe fell victim to massive cultural plunder by the Nazis.
During the two years of funding, about 20 000 media dating from the period before 1945 will be checked. Any dubious marks of provenance will be documented and photographed in order to serve as basis for research into the single incidents of cultural looting. The results will be made available to the general public via the OPAC and in a paper on the project.
Tillmann Tegeler, M. A.
Head of Library and Electronic Research Infrastructure Department