‘Forsaken and Abandoned’: The Nationalization and Salvage of Deserted, Displaced, and Private Library Collections in Poland, 1945–1948

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Abstract

The Second World War and subsequent changes to state boundaries resulted in significant dispersal and displacement of cultural property, including library collections, located in pre-war Poland and Germany. The former Polish eastern provinces became part of the Soviet Union, and the former German eastern and northern territories were incorporated into Poland and the Soviet Union. The immediate post-war activities of the Communist-dominated government in Poland focused on the establishment of Polish administration and nationalization of German property in the annexed territories as well as the development of safekeeping measures for abandoned and dispersed library collections within new Polish borders. The government actions also included the nationalization of the property of Polish landowners and aristocrats. This article examines the legal basis for the nationalization of so-called forsaken and abandoned property as well as the property of Polish landowners, and the organizational structure for salvaging cultural objects in a broader context of the nationalization of private property and war reparations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-288
Number of pages17
JournalLibrary and Information History
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2012

Keywords

  • library collections
  • nationalization
  • Poland
  • war reparations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science

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