A census of Kovno from 1923 indicated that 27 percent of the city’s population was Jewish – and the city was the scene of a thriving Jewish community that would befit such a high percentage. The city was home to multiple yeshivas, several Yiddish daily newspapers, a host of mutual aid and other welfare institutions – and all the signs of a city with a vibrant Jewish community in both the religious and secular sense. While the interwar years were a period of growth and stability for the Jews of Kovno this stability was not long lived. In June 1940 the city was occupied by the Soviets and in this period much of the religious life of the city was repressed; however, this tragedy was only deepened a year later when the Nazi’s occupied the city and murdered much of the city’s Jewish population
These are bookstamps belonging to a book and religious article shop that was owned by the Gutman family in Kovno. A picture of the exterior of this bookstore can be found in Yad Vashem’s Photo Archive. The image has been digitized and is available at the following link: collections.yadvashem.org/photosarchive/en-us/10891.html
This book stamp is from a book looted by the Nazis and sorted by Colonel Seymour Pomrenze, one of “the Monuments Men,” at the Offenbach Archival Depot.
There are two scrapbooks of archival markings from the books sorted at the Offenbach Depot in the Seymour Pomrenze Collection held by the American Jewish Historical Society (Call number P-933) There is a finding aid for the collection here
The digitized scrapbooks are available here
For more information on this project check the Center’s blog: 16thstreet.tumblr.com/tagged/Offenbach-Depot
Dr. Mitch Fraas, Acting Director of the Digital Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries' Special Collections Center is working on a similar project for the German book stamps based on NARA microfilm of the volumes the American Jewish Historical Society currently holds. See viewshare.org/views/mfraas/offenbach-bookplates/
The Center for Jewish History would like to acknowledge the following: The American Jewish Historical Society, who graciously allowed the use of their archival materials and digital content; Mitch Fraas, Acting Director of the Digital Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries' Special Collections Center, for his data and technical assistance in this project; David Rosenberg, Senior Manager for Communications, and Melanie Meyers, Senior Reference Services Librarian for Special Collections, for managing and creating the digital map; as well as Reference Services Librarian Zachary Loeb and Reference Services Assistant Ilya Slavutskiy for their work on translating and mapping.
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Owner: Center for Jewish History, NYC
Source: Flickr Commons