The Berlin Central and Regional Library formally handed over 10 books and three journal volumes at a ceremony Wednesday. The books were discovered at the library among more than 200,000 volumes being examined by researchers as part of a project to establish their origin, with a focus on restitution.
One of the books is from noted author Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and dates back to 1890, but none have significant monetary value.
"This handover has a great symbolic value," said Jewish community spokeswoman Maya Zehden.
Jewish households, community centers and schools were routinely looted by the Nazis and thousands of books were burned. Some were spared but then forgotten after World War II, eventually ending up in different libraries.
Back to rightful owners (Photo: AP)
Finding them is like searching for a needle in a haystack, the researchers say.
"We are happy every time we can give books back to the rightful owner," historian Peter Proelssz from the library said. "But there are still 200,000 books left to go through. In the past year, we've gone through 25,000," Proelssz said.
When identifying the owners, the researchers look for certain clues: Sometimes a stamp on the first page, sometimes just a number.
For example, inside one of the books recently discovered, "The Jewish Youth Calendar," a faint stamp can still be made out that reads: "Belongs to the religious school of the Jewish Community."
The project at the Berlin library is supported by the German federal government, which distributes €1 million ($1.4 million) annually to restitution projects across the country.
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