Bibliothek Sassenbach, ADGB

Label and shelfmarkEx libris of the Sassenbach library © ZLB

Ex libris of the Sassenbach library © ZLB

In March 2024, a book and a ex libris from the "Sassenbach Library, Berlin Local Committee of the A.D.G.B." were restituted to the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

Johannes Sassenbach (1866-1940) was chairman of the General German Saddlers' Association from 1891. He was later a member of the General Commission of German Trade Unions, its secretary from 1922 and General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation from 1927. He was a publisher and publicist and the first bibliographer of trade union literature. Sassenbach owned "one of the largest and most comprehensive private libraries" in Berlin, which he donated to the Berlin local committee of the ADGB (General German Trade Union Confederation) as a study library in 1927.

At this time, trade union libraries were partly supported by the local trade union associations ("trade union cartels"), and partly they functioned as supporting associations of the trade union cartels with the local social democratic electoral and local associations ("workers' libraries"). In addition, libraries were set up very early on by the union executive committees, which were available to the employees of the union executive committees.

Johannes Sassenbach was committed to trade union education and was one of the co-founders of the trade union publishing and library system. On May 10, 1933, the day of the book burnings, the assets of the SPD were confiscated by the National Socialists. Just a few days earlier, on May 2, 1933, the National Socialists had seized the assets of the trade unions, which now lost the right to dispose of their numerous facilities, offices and real estate, as well as their archives and libraries. Books, archives and documents were confiscated during almost all occupations of trade union buildings in Germany. The confiscated trade union libraries came into conflict with the interests of competing Nazi institutions and various state agencies. In this specific case, these were the German Labor Front (DAF) and the NSDAP. In January 1934, the party archive of the NSDAP and that of the DAF were established in the building occupied by the German Labor Front and the umbrella organization of the German Trade Union Confederation (ADGB). The archives, catalogs and libraries of the banned workers' organizations were also integrated into it.

Initially, the "Reichsarchiv" was the first to incorporate the library of the Federal Executive Committee of the ADGB and the Sassenbach Library. The DAF was defeated in an internal power struggle and, at the instigation of Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess (1894-1987), had to hand over its archive holdings with the Sassenbach Library to Munich in October 1934, where they remained in safekeeping until the end of the war. In 1947, most of the library was transferred via the Munich Central Collecting Point to the Offenbach Archival Depot (OAD), where the library holdings were probably divided up - most of the library is now considered lost. After the dissolution of the OAD, part of the library's holdings came to the Frankfurt am Main City and University Library, which had taken them over from the Hessian Ministry of Culture and Education for safekeeping in trust. Other parts of the library were transferred to the Federal Archives in Berlin and the library of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Bonn.


The route by which the item entered the holdings of the Zentral- und Landesbibliothek is unknown and could not be traced.The book was identified as part of the unprocessed depot stock.Even if there is no handwritten number in the object that can be assigned to a salvage location, this access route can be considered probable.

The bookplate comes from the BStB's bookplate collection, which was created by a bookbinder in the early 1980s and handed over to the Provenance Research Department of the ZLB in the 2010s.

Additional information

Peter, Gisela (2006): Gewerkschaftliche Literatur vor 1914. Die bibliografische Leistung Johannes Sassenbachs, Berlin.

Schwarz, Jaques: Johann Sassenbach (1866-1940), in: Benser, Günter / Schneider, Michael (Hrsg.) (2009): Bewahren – Verbreiten – Aufklären. Archivare, Bibliothekare und Sammler der Quellen der deutschsprachigen Arbeiterbewegung, Bonn-Bad Godesberg.