“Stolen Words: The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books,” by Mark Glickman

Jewish Publication Society. 312 pages. Hardcover $29.95.

Though written in a more playful style than one might expect, Glickman’s study is important for locating in one place a sufficiently thorough and eminently readable treatment of its subject. Glickman begins by setting his immediate subject into a few larger ones. These include the long association of Jewish culture and civilization with the written word, which stresses the primacy of scribed and printed text in shaping Jewish life and identity. The suggestion is that no other people would be as damaged as the Jewish people through the destruction of its literature, both sacred and profane. Glickman

Another important context developed by the author is the Nazi plundering of the larger category: all Jewish cultural production, notably including artworks. The annihilation of the Jewish people, under Hitler, required as well the disappearance or appropriation of its creative expression.

Glickman also provides a history of Jewish books and religious scrolls: their making over the centuries of changing materials and technologies, their methods of ownership and distribution, their privileged place in the transmission of peoplehood.

Mark Glickman

Mark Glickman

The heart of the book, of course, is the holocaust within The Holocaust. Rabbi Glickman traces the transition from destroying Jewish books to hoarding and hiding them. The raiding of homes, libraries, and Jewish institutions in general led to a dispersed accumulation of enormous numbers. However, even before the war was over, the effort to rescue and reclaim was underway. Jewish leaders recognized the need to rescue and rehouse the treasure of the Jewish mind, spirit and history. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears on the Jewish Book Council website, click here: Stolen Words: The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books by Mark Glickman

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