Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc.

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Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc. was an organization established by the Conference on Jewish Relations[1] in April 1947 to collect and distribute heirless Jewish property in the American occupied zone of Germany after World War II.[2] The organization, originally named the Commission on European Jewish Cultural Reconstruction (alternatively Jewish Cultural Reconstruction Commission), was originally proposed in 1944 by Theodor Gaster of the Library of Congress, and one of its cofounders.[3][4][5]

Shortly after its founding, it became the cultural arm of the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization.[6] It distributed about 150,000 heirless items, mostly books from the Offenbach Archival Depot whose owners could not be identified, to libraries in the United States and abroad,[4] among others to the library of the Israelitische Cultusgemeinde Zürich in Switzerland.[7] Hannah Arendt, then managing director of the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc., handed over parts of the library of the Breslau Rabbinical Seminary in Germany which was suppressed by the Nazis in 1938. The oldest books of the Breslau collection date back to the 16th century, among them a 1595 print of Flavius Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews.[8][9] Funding for the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction's operations was provided by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Palestine. Among the leaders and officers of the organization were Salo Baron, Hannah Arendt, Leo Baeck, and Gershom Scholem.[10] The organization ceased operations in 1952.


  1. ^ Baron 2007.
  2. ^ JVL 2019.
  3. ^ Gaster 1945.
  4. ^ a b Waite 2002.
  5. ^ Herman 2008.
  6. ^ Leff, Lisa Moses (2015). The Archives Thief. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 137. ISBN 9780199380954.
  7. ^ Adrian Portmann (2014-01-20). "Zukunft der geschichtsträchtigen Bibliothek ist ungewiss" (in German). Limmattaler Zeitung. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  8. ^ Martina Läubli (2015-01-09). "Bibliothek der Israelitischen Cultusgemeinde Zürich: Jüdischer Bücherschatz" (in German). NZZ. Retrieved 2015-12-18.
  9. ^ "75 Jahre Bibliothek Israelitische Cultusgemeinde Zürich". Ex Libris (bookshop) (in German). Retrieved 2015-12-18.
  10. ^ Plunder and Restitution: Findings and Recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States and Staff Report, 2000, archived from the original on 2013-02-17, retrieved 2013-08-29