Stolen Words


Stolen Words

The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books

Mark Glickman

344 pages
34 photographs, 1 table


February 2016


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

February 2016


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

February 2016


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Stolen Words is an epic story about the largest collection of Jewish books in the world—tens of millions of books that the Nazis looted from European Jewish families and institutions. Nazi soldiers and civilians emptied Jewish communal libraries, confiscated volumes from government collections, and stole from Jewish individuals, schools, and synagogues. Early in their regime the Nazis burned some books in spectacular bonfires, but most they saved, stashing the literary loot in castles, abandoned mine shafts, and warehouses throughout Europe. It was the largest and most extensive book-looting campaign in history.
After the war, Allied forces discovered these troves of stolen books but quickly found themselves facing a barrage of questions. How could the books be identified? Where should they go? Who had the authority to make such decisions? Eventually the military turned the books over to an organization of leading Jewish scholars called Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc.—whose chairman was the acclaimed historian Salo Baron and whose on-the-ground director was the philosopher Hannah Arendt—with the charge of establishing restitution protocols.
Stolen Words is the story of how a free civilization decides what to do with the material remains of a world torn asunder, and how those remains connect survivors with their past. It is the story of Jews struggling to understand the new realities of their post-Holocaust world and of Western society’s gradual realization of the magnitude of devastation wrought by World War II. Most of all, it is the story of people —of Nazi leaders, ideologues, and Judaica experts; of Allied soldiers, scholars, and scoundrels; and of Jewish communities, librarians, and readers around the world.

Author Bio

Rabbi Mark Glickman has served at congregations in Ohio, Washington State, and Colorado. He is the author of Sacred Treasure—The Cairo Genizah: The Amazing Discoveries of Forgotten Jewish History in an Egyptian Synagogue Attic.


"Glickman has produced a provocative history that preserves this important yet often overlooked aspect of the Holocaust, and readers will come away with a valuable perspective on how the written word can be abused for the sake of cultural genocide."—Kirkus

"An epic story."—Washington Book Review

"This book is a must-read for every Jewish library and every university library as well."—Philip K. Jason, Jewish Book Council

"Fascinating and eminently readable."—Rabbi Robert

"Stolen Words is an epic story."—Dov Peretz Elkins, Jewish Media Review

"Glickman . . . tells this story with skill and authority."—Sheldon Kirshner, Times of Israel

“[This is] a compelling and emotionally powerful story.”—Daniel M. Bronstein, historian and contributor to The Cambridge Dictionary of Jewish History, Religion, and Culture

“A little-known story powerfully told, Stolen Words kept me on the edge of my seat.”—Aaron Lansky, president of the Yiddish Book Center and author of Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books

“A genuine page-turner, written with engaging prose and heartfelt passion. . . . As Rabbi Mark Glickman artfully reminds us, books are ultimately the couriers of human civilization. In their redemption we keep faith with our past and sustain hope in our future.”—Gary P. Zola, executive director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion

“A wonderfully written book about an extremely important event in history, neglected until now: the loss and retrieval of Jewish cultural treasures during the Holocaust.”—David E. Fishman, professor of Jewish history at Jewish Theological Seminary and senior research scholar at YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. Loading the Jewish Bookshelf
2. Antisemites and the Jewish Written Word
3. From Bonfires to Bookshelves
4. Talmud Scholars, Hebraists, and Other Nazi Looters
5. Pillage
6. Resistance
7. Rescue
8. Restitution
9. Looted Books in the New Jewish Landscape
10. Jewish Cultural Reconstruction
11. Where Are They Now?

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