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