2003: Provenance Research and Restitution

In 2003, the Austrian National Library was the first federal institution to submit its comprehensive provenance report as provided for by the 1998 Art Restitution Act. The report contained a list of all of the objects still held by the library that were stolen during the NS era. In-depth research had been conducted into the entire questionable holdings on the basis of available documents and autopsies carried out in the repositories. Despite numerous items returned immediately after the end of the war, more than 52,000 unlawfully acquired objects were identified. Since December 2003 it has been possible to return altogether 46,866 objects to their legitimate owners. According to the current state of research, however, about one third of the divested objects can be regarded as “heirless”.

In June 2010, the first and largest portion of these heirless books (8,363 individual volumes) was transferred to the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism in compliance with the provisions of the Art Restitution Act; in a subsequent step, these books were then repurchased at usual market prices that had been determined by an external appraiser.

Moreover, the Austrian National Library addressed the theme publicly in its exhibitions, such as “Looted Books. The Austrian National Library Confronts Its Nazi Past” (2004/5) and “Memories of More Beautiful Times: Images from the Perished World of the Jewish Collector Raoul Korty” (2008). In 2006, a comprehensive academic study on the institution’s NS history was published on the Austrian National Library’s initiative: Murray G. Hall and Christina Köstner: “… Allerlei für die Nationalbibliothek zu ergattern …” Eine österreichische Institution in der NS-Zeit. Vienna: Böhlau 2006.

Alert
Reading rooms at Heldenplatz and Papyrus Museum

Due to filming, the reading rooms at Heldenplatz and the Papyrus Museum will be closed fon Saturday, March 2. Thank you for your understanding.

State Hall and Augustinian Reading Room

Due to filming, the State Hall will be closed from February 27 until March 12, 2024. 

The Augustinian Reading Room will be closed from February 27 until March 8, 2024. During this time, no books can be provided from the collection in the State Hall. As a substitute, the Reading Room of the Collection of Manuscripts and Old Prints (Josefsplatz 1 in the left wing of the building, Manuscripts Staircase 2nd floor) will be available during regular opening hours.
Thank you for your understanding.