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Research on Nazi-Confiscated Works

In May 2010, the WU Uni­versity Lib­rary launched an in­vest­ig­a­tion in­ten­ded to identify Nazi-­con­fis­cated items in its col­lec­tion. The pro­ject was star­ted on the ini­ti­at­ive of the lib­rary man­age­ment and ap­proved by the Rector's Coun­cil.

Ap­prox­im­ately 51,000 volumes (shelf marks 1–50,000) were ex­amined firsthand dur­ing phase one of the pro­ject (May 2010–August 2013). A fur­ther 15,000 volumes were ex­amined dur­ing phase two (Feb­ru­ary 2014–Decem­ber 2015). The re­search res­ul­ted in a list of 1,121 volumes of po­ten­tially du­bi­ous proven­ance. 74 in­di­vidu­als and 118 in­sti­tu­tions have been iden­ti­fied as the ori­ginal own­ers of these books.


Bookplate from the Suschitzky Bros. bookstore

To date, Nazi-­con­fis­cated works found in the WU Uni­versity Lib­rary col­lec­tion have been re­turned to the fol­low­ing per­sons / in­sti­tu­tions:

Suschitzky, Wolf(gang)

The fol­low­ing two-­volume work marked with a book­plate from the Suschitzky Bros. book­store was found in the WU Cent­ral Lib­rary col­lec­tion: Schmidt, Hein­rich: Was wir Ernst Haeckel verd­anken (1914).

In the fall of 1901, the broth­ers Phil­ipp und Wil­helm Suschitzky foun­ded a book­store and lib­rary in Vi­enna’s tenth dis­trict (Fa­vor­iten­strasse 57), selling and loan­ing new and anti­quar­ian books. In 1911/12, the broth­ers es­tab­lished the pub­lish­ing house An­z­en­gruber­-Ver­lag Brüder Suschitzky and the book­store was ex­pan­ded.

The Suschitzky broth­ers cul­tiv­ated a strong in­terest in polit­ical and cul­tural is­sues, espe­cially the free­thinker move­ment, wo­men’s rights, the tem­per­ance move­ment, so­cial and sexual re­forms, and pa­ci­fism.

From the late 1920s on they were sub­jec­ted to massive har­ass­ment and pun­it­ive meas­ures (raids and searches, con­fis­ca­tions of books, court tri­als) that worsened as Aus­tria’s demo­cratic gov­ern­ment fell in the years 1933/34 and after­wards.

Fol­low­ing the sui­cide of Wil­helm Suschitzky on April 18, 1934, his widow Adele Suschitzky (1878–1980) be­came a man­aging part­ner of the com­pany.

In 1938, Adele Suschitzky man­aged to flee to Lon­don, fol­low­ing her chil­dren Edith Tu­dor-Hart and Wolfgang Suschitzky who had already es­caped there.

Phil­ipp Suschitzky and his wife Olga were murdered in the Auschwitz con­cen­tra­tion camp.No proof could be found that the WU Uni­versity Lib­rary ac­quired the volumes in ques­tion leg­ally, so the work was re­turned to Wolf Suschitzky (Lon­don) when he vis­ited Vi­enna in Septem­ber 2013.

Vi­enna Cham­ber of Labor Lib­rary

In July 2014, WU held a small ce­re­mony dur­ing which ten books that had ori­gin­ally formed part of the Vi­enna Cham­ber of Labor Lib­rary were re­turned to the Vi­enna Cham­ber of Labor. Due to a scarcity of sources, it has not been possible to es­tab­lish ex­actly how the books in ques­tion came to end up in the WU Uni­versity Lib­rary col­lec­tion in 1936. Press re­lease (in Ger­man)

The heirs of Leo­pold Singer

In Oc­to­ber 2015, a small ce­re­mony was held dur­ing which 696 books were re­turned to the Singer fam­ily. Press re­lease (in Ger­man)