Rotterdam Rotary Club

Minute Book of the Rotterdam Rotary Club, 25 October 1933 - 13 March 1935

In 2017, three volumes of handwritten minute books from the Rotary Club of Rotterdam could be given back to the club.

The way in which the volumes were added to the library's holdings is unclear. The minute books were found in unprocessed stock of the Berlin City Library (Berliner Stadtbibliothek, BStB).

This is not the first discovery of Rotary Club Rotterdam minute books in the BStB's holdings. Back in 1992, two volumes (1931-33) were discovered. At that time, the library decided to ask the Rotterdam Public Library for help and sent the volumes to the Netherlands with the request to forward them to the rightful owners, which was done.

Since the volumes that have now been found do not show any traces such as signatures, accession numbers etc. of intermediate owners, only assumptions can be made about the acquisition and accession into the BStB's holdings. The club's property was confiscated in September 1940 by the Netherlands Task Force of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) in Rotterdam. A report by the ERR on its activities in relation to the confiscation of libraries and archives shows that the looted property from Dutch Masonic lodges and Rotarian clubs was packed into 470 boxes and taken to Germany in 1940 for further evaluation. The looting was justified with the claim that they were "subversive organisations".

So far, no evidence has come to light in the course of the ZLB's provenance research that the BStB directly received shipments of looted books from libraries confiscated by the ERR. This also seems unlikely, since the ERR pursued the establishment of its own libraries, not the furnishing of other German libraries. However, several books have been found in the holdings that were originally looted by the ERR and then apparently redistributed, probably either if they were duplicates or if the looted material was assessed as unsuitable for the ERR libraries.

According to the current state of research, the only possible conclusion for the minute books is that they were obtained from the holdings of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), which were partially salvaged by the Bergungsstelle für wissenschaftliche Bibliotheken (Salvage Office for Academic Libraries) in 1945/46. The volumes do not bear the characteristic "salvage numbers", a typical handwritten numbering indicating the place of salvage. However, this marking was not done consistently, which is not surprising in view of the large number of books that were relocated. Of the documented locations, numbers 15 and 209 in particular come into question as probable salvage sites. No. 15 referred to a depot of the RSHA in an expropriated building of a masonic lodge at Eisenacher Str. in Berlin, in which a so-called "Enemy Library" was to be set up from looted books from all over Europe. No. 209 refers to a likewise expropriated lodge house in Emser Str., which served the RSHA as a storage and sorting location.

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