Martin Breslauer

Note: "vollständig f[ür]. M[artin]. B[reslauer]. FR. ("entirely for. M[artin]. B[reslauer]. FR.")

Exlibris: "Bibliothek Gotthilf Weisstein Berlin"

In 2019, seven books and one ex-libris, formerly belonging to Martin Breslauer, were offered for restitution. The B.H. Breslauer Foundation decided that the objects should remain in the ZLB as a gift.

Gotthilf Weisstein (1852 - 1907) was a journalist, writer and bibliophile with a distinguished library. While still alive, he began cataloguing his books, which was completed after his death by his brother and heir Hermann Weisstein (1854 - 1924) and Fedor von Zobeltitz, who was commissioned by him. Hermann Weisstein also arranged for all books to be marked with an ex-libris. In 1921 Hermann Weisstein handed over the library of his brother to the Prussian State Library Berlin as a loan.

Hermann Weisstein's widow and heiress Margarethe Weisstein, née Baswitz (1874 - 1942, persecuted as Jewish, murdered in Theresienstadt), began negotiations at the end of March 1933 on the termination of the loan contract in order to obtain funds to secure her livelihood. The antiquarian bookseller Martin Breslauer was commissioned by her to sell the books and acquired the library's books at a standard market price - this was not a sale due to Nazi persecution.

Martin Breslauer (born 16 December 1871, Berlin - died 16 October 1940 in London) was married to Margarete Freistadt (born 17 December 1889 in Berlin - died 1968 in London). Martin Breslauer ran his antiquarian bookshop in Berlin, which was renowned far beyond Germany. Among other things, he was an expert for the Prussian State Library, a founding member of the Society of Bibliophiles, a co-founder of the Maximilian Society, and a member and treasurer of the Society for German Literature. He and his family were persecuted as Jewish from the beginning of the Nazi regime. The family had to give up their house in Lichterfelde in 1934, their son Bernd Hartmut was forced to leave the grammar school in 1935. In July 1937 the family was able to emigrate to Great Britain after paying the Reich Flight Tax ("Reichsfluchtsteuer"). Bernd, later Bernard H. Breslauer (born July 1, 1918 in Charlottenburg, died August 14, 2004 in New York), became an antiquarian bookseller like his father. He was unmarried and had no heirs, which is why he founded the non-profit B.H. Breslauer Foundation New York shortly before his death.

For most of the objects, the access route to the holdings of the Berlin City Library cannot be traced; they never received acquisition numbers or shelfmarks and were stored among unprocessed depot stock. According to the acquisition journals, two books were purchased by the library in 1939 and 1943, assigned to the Göritz-Lübeck collection and later kept in the library's depot. The Berlin antiquarian bookshops Gsellius and Agnes Straub are named as vendors. The books thus must be considered Nazi loot.

Additional information

  • Haufe, Rüdiger: Vermutungsregelung, Prioritätsprinzip und Ascheinsbeweis : Zu Erwerbungen aus den Sammlungen Gotthilf Weissteins. In: Bomski, Franziska, Seemann, Hellmuth Th. und Valk, Thorsten [Hrsg.]: Spuren Suchen : Provenienzforschung in Weimar. Göttingen, 2018. S. 85-105