How Books Looted by the Third Reich Made Their Way to Los Angeles

So far, American universities haven’t started burning books that students wish to see canceled. The Nazis, who famously burned the books they banned, for their own perverse reasons also sought to preserve them. Diane Mizrachi and Michal Bušek explain that policy, and how it resulted in six books bearing the stamp of a Jewish library in Prague turning up at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) library:

[The Nazis’] systematic looting of libraries all through Europe . . . resulted in the destruction and dispersion of an estimated 100 million books, and their celebratory bonfires of “un-German” books are well documented. While the overwhelming emphasis was on the destruction of Jewish books, the Nazis also targeted other literature they believed antithetical to their ideology.

Early on in the regime, however, they implemented a parallel strategy of building a core collection of Jewish works for their own scholars to study. They planned to build institutes where party scholars would interpret these texts and, using Nazi ideological perspectives, provide “scientific proof” of their racial superiority and justify their campaigns to demonize Judaism and annihilate the Jewish race. Amassing Jewish books for institute libraries was the first step in this plan. Even though these institutes and museums for “extinct people” were never built, Nazi agents stormed across Europe plundering millions of books and artifacts. They sent crates of loot to various centers for sorting and selection: preservation or destruction.

Among the thousands of libraries looted by Nazis was the Jewish Religious Community Library in Prague, . . . established in 1857 to accommodate donations of private collections from Jews as they became less interested in maintaining personal Judaica collections. It was opened to the public in 1874, becoming one of the first Jewish community libraries in Europe and among the richest. Its 1939 catalog, still in existence, records nearly 30,000 books, manuscripts, and periodicals. Like Jewish libraries everywhere under the Nazis, the collection was confiscated and dispersed.

Read more at College & Research Libraries

More about: Holocaust, Libraries, Rare books

What Israel Can Achieve in Gaza, the Fate of the Hostages, and Planning for the Day After

In a comprehensive analysis, Azar Gat concludes that Israel’s prosecution of the war has so far been successful, and preferable to the alternatives proposed by some knowledgeable critics. (For a different view, see this article by Lazar Berman.) But even if the IDF is coming closer to destroying Hamas, is it any closer to freeing the remaining hostages? Gat writes:

Hamas’s basic demand in return for the release of all the hostages—made clear well before it was declared publicly—is an end to the war and not a ceasefire. This includes the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip, restoration of Hamas’s control over it (including international guarantees), and a prisoner exchange on the basis of “all for all.”

Some will say that there must be a middle ground between Hamas’s demands and what Israel can accept. However, Hamas’s main interest is to ensure its survival and continued rule, and it will not let go of its key bargaining chip. Some say that without the return of the hostages—“at any price”—no victory is possible. While this sentiment is understandable, the alternative would be a resounding national defeat. The utmost efforts must be made to rescue as many hostages as possible, and Israel should be ready to pay a heavy price for this goal; but Israel’s capitulation is not an option.

Beyond the great cost in human life that Israel will pay over time for such a deal, Hamas will return to rule the Gaza Strip, repairing its infrastructure of tunnels and rockets, filling its ranks with new recruits, and restoring its defensive and offensive arrays. This poses a critical question for those suggesting that it will be possible to restart the war at a later stage: have they fully considered the human toll should the IDF attempt to reoccupy the areas it would have vacated in the Gaza Strip?

Although Gat is sanguine about the prospects of the current campaign, he throws some cold water on those who hope for an absolute victory:

Militarily, it is possible to destroy Hamas’s command, military units, and infrastructure as a semi-regular military organization. . . . After their destruction in high-intensity fighting, the IDF must prevent Hamas from reviving by continuous action on the ground. As in the West Bank, this project will take years. . . . What the IDF is unlikely to achieve is the elimination of Hamas as a guerrilla force.

Lastly, Gat has some wise words about what will happen to Gaza after the war ends, a subject that has been getting renewed attention since Benjamin Netanyahu presented an outline of a plan to the war cabinet on Thursday. Gat argues that, contrary to the view of the American and European foreign-policy elite, there is no political solution for Gaza. After all, Gaza is in the Middle East, where “there are no solutions, . . . only bad options and options that are much worse.”

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security