Nazi-looted cultural property

Moses Mendelssohn Akademie Halberstadt investigates the Ernst Wolff book collection

At Moses Mendelssohn Akademie Halberstadt, a team under the academic direction of Nora M. Kißling has been working on a research project devoted to the Ernst Wolff book collection since December 2022.

The project is funded by the German Lost Art Foundation and the Moses Mendelssohn Foundation. The aim is to systematically record and review the collection of more than 3,000 volumes.

The collection came into the possession of the film entrepreneur Ernst Wolff (1903-1963) – who survived the Shoa in a hiding place in Berlin – during the work on the reopening of the synagogue on Fränkelufer in Berlin-Kreuzberg in 1945. Part of the synagogue building had been misused from 1942 onwards by the art and antiques dealer Rudolf Sobczyk as a warehouse for housing furnishings belonging to deported Berlin Jews and others. After Ernst Wolff’s death, his heir Manfred Wolff took possession of the book collection, which was stored in Wehrmacht ammunition boxes, and handed it over to Moses Mendelssohn Akademie Halberstadt in 2018 for scholarly analysis. The holdings will first be inventoried in the library and archives; provenance features will be digitally secured in the databases Looted Cultural Assets and Lost Art. In addition, the study focuses on contextual research into the history of the collection relating to Ernst Wolff’s own biography, along with biographical-genealogical research into the former owners.

To the project

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