Stamp: "Eigentum des Dr. Simonstein" (Property of Dr. Simonstein)

In 2019 a book from the library of Gertrude Prager was returned.

The stamp "Property of Dr. Simonstein” could be attributed to Dr. Hugo Simonstein beyond doubt.

Hugo Simonstein was born on 13 July 1882 in Schneidemühl (Pomerania) as one of twelve children of Salomon Simonstein (1843-1905) and Ernestine Simonstein née Lesser (1848-1929). He went on to become a doctor, moved to Berlin and married Renate Gertrude Witkowski in 1913. He died early at the age of only 44 on 18 August 1926 in Berlin. The couple had, so far as could be determined, no children.

Gertrude Prager was born in Berlin on 10 November 1890 as the daughter of Mauschel Witkowski and Flora Witkowski née Levy. After the death of Hugo Simonstein she stayed in Berlin and got remarried in 1935, to Paul Prager. Gertrude Prager was deported on October 18, 1941 from Berlin to the Ghetto Litzmannstadt (Łódź). On May 8, 1942, she was deported to the extermination camp Kulmhof (Chełmno) and murdered. It must be assumed that she was the last owner of the aforementioned book before it was either robbed or had to be sold under duress.

Paul Prager was born on March 29, 1876 in Berlin, the son of Leopold Prager (1846-1894) and Seraphine Prager née Perutz (1845-1901). He managed his father's suitcase factory for a long time and married Nanni Blumenthal (1888-1949) in 1920. In 1923, their son Peter was born in Berlin. The marriage was divorced in 1930. Paul Prager was able to escape to London in 1939. About a year earlier, Peter Prager had already been sent to England on a Kindertransport and thus survived the Holocaust.

Paul Prager died shortly after the end of the war in 1946 in England. His son Peter wrote and published the story of his family,   founded a family and lived in the UK until his death in 2012.

The exact route of the book into the stock of the Central and Regional Library could not be retraced. The volume was added to the stock shortly after the end of the war in 1945, it probably was in the library’s possession for some time already. The vendor named in the acquisition journal, Kulturamt ("Cultural Office") refers to the Berlin Magistrate; however, this name verifiably was frequently used for stock stored in depots, among them many Nazi-looted books. From these hints, it is very likely that the book is one of the ~40.000 Nazi-looted books the Berlin City Library bought from the city of Berlin in 1943, books that, along with everything else, had been taken from the last homes of Jewish Berliners after they had been deported to be murdered.

The ZLB would like to thank the Commission for Looted Art in Europe for its support with this restitution.

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