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In 1946 the American Military Government for Germany established the Offenbach Archival Depot to store, identify and restore the huge quantities of Nazi-looted books, archival material and ritual objects found hidden in German caches. The astonishing efforts of scholars and activists to rescue these cultural treasures – including over three million books from 19 European countries – after the Holocaust is brought to life by Elizabeth Gallas in A Mortuary of Books, winner of the Jewish Book Council’s (America) 2020 JDC-Herbert Katzki Award for Writing Based on Archival Material. Chief research associate at the Leibinz Institute for Jewish History and Culture, she joins writer George Prochnik with the miraculous story of the many Jewish organisations and individuals – including Hannah Arendt, Lucy Dawidowicz and Salo W. Baron – who sought to return the treasured objects to their rightful owners.
Click here to buy A Mortuary of Books by Elizabeth Gallas from our independent bookselling partners, Blackwell’s.
Elisabeth Gallas is chief research associate at the Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture—Simon Dubnow in Leipzig, Germany.
George Prochnik’s essays, poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous journals. He is editor-at-large for Cabinet Magazine and won the National Jewish Book Award for The Impossible Exile.
Sponsored by the Maurice Freedman Trust