In the years following the end of the First World War and the Russian Revolution the city of Kharkiv – in Ukraine – became home to a large and vibrant Jewish community; indeed, the Jewish population of Kharkiv swelled to well over 100,000 in the years preceding the start of the Second World War. As the capital of the Ukrainian SSR (from 1919 to 1934) Kharkiv was not only a site of important industry but also a hub for culture, education and political activity. For years Kharkiv was a major center for Zionist political organizing, but with the consolidation of control by the Communist party political life was increasingly controlled. Due to its large Jewish population, Kharkiv was home to a thriving Yiddish culture though it largely emphasized secular socialist values as opposed to religious or Zionist ideologies. This book stamp – from the library of the Kharkhaver Jewish Workers’ Cooperate, touting the importance of self-education – is a record of the intersection of the Jewish community with communist politics in the city. During World War II Kharkiv was the site of many fierce battles as control of the city went back and forth between the Nazis and the Soviets. Though many of Kharkiv’s Jews fled before the advance of the Nazi forces, those who remained were forced into ghettoes and massacred. Stamps such as this one bear testament to the once vibrant Jewish community that was decimated during the Second World War.
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.
For copyright information, click here
Owner: Center for Jewish History, NYC
Source: Flickr Commons