Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an international memorial day on 27 January that commemorates the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War.
Last week, the Library and Archives Canada announced the recent acquisition of a rare 1944 book previously owned by Adolf Hitler.
The 137-page German language report, Statistik, Presse und Organisationen des Judentums in den Vereinigten Staaten und Kanada (Statistics, Media, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada), was compiled in 1944 by Heinz Kloss.
The data contained within the book provides details on population statistics in certain cities as well as key organizations and presses of Canadian and American Jewish communities.
This work hints at the story of what might have happened in Canada had the allies lost World War II. It also demonstrates that the Holocaust was not a purely European event, but rather an operation that was stopped before it reached North America. The book adds a great deal of insights worthy of reflection for Canada about World War II, and is an important tool to fight Holocaust denial.
The bookplate bears a stylized eagle, swastika, and the words “EX LIBRIS ADOLF HITLER” indicating it came from Hitler’s personal library.
The acquisition of this book highlights our mandate to acquire material that reflects the published record of Canada as well as to preserve the memory of the Holocaust. It is also a way to let us reflect on what would have happened in Canada had the Second World War ended differently.
- The book is written in German, though many names are in English.
- The author of this book, Heinz Kloss, was a noted German linguist whose specializations included German speakers living in the United States.
- Kloss visited the United States in 1936–1937.
- Kloss had contacts amongst Nazi sympathizers in the United States.
- Kloss was responsible for producing official and scholarly information used by the Nazi regime.
- Kloss was the head of the Publikationsstelle Stuttgart-Hamburg that dealt with research on nationality issues, particularly in the United States.
- This book was part of a confidential series and was for official use only.
- The owner of this book, Adolph Hitler, was a prolific reader and book collector. Although his collection was never inventoried, reports estimate the number of books to have been between 6,000 and 16,000.
- This book was likely brought to the United States as a war souvenir, as thousands were taken by American soldiers from the Nazi leader’s alpine retreat outside Berchtesgaden in the spring of 1945.
- We acquired the book from a reputable Judaica dealer who had obtained it as part of a collection owned by a Holocaust survivor.
- Other libraries in North America with books once owned by Hitler include the Library of Congress and Brown University Library.
- The book will be preserved in the Jacob M. Lowy Collection where other important items related to Holocaust remembrance reside.
- Library and Archives Canada hopes that this book becomes a tool for Holocaust remembrance and for fighting Holocaust denial.
- A recent American study suggested that two-thirds of American millennials could not identify what Auschwitz was and that 22% of American millennials have not heard of the Holocaust or were not sure if they had heard of it. These statistics reaffirm the importance of preserving the memory of the Holocaust.