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Book 8. Voronezh State University Area research library. Foreign books of the second half of 19th century (Lost items - 575 )

History of the Voronezh State University Area Research Library in 1942-1943

Panorama of Voronezh. 1943
Panorama of Voronezh. 1943
The view of Voronezh University’s main building blown up by retreating Fascist forces
The view of Voronezh University’s main building
blown up by retreating Fascist forces
The view of Voronezh University’s main building blown up by retreating Fascist forces
The view of Voronezh University’s main
building blown up by retreating Fascist forces

In ]uly 1942 German forces occupied 30 western districts in Voronezh Region and right-bank districts in Voronezh town. Thus the occupation regime in Voronezh land was estab­lished, lasting from 28 June 1942 until 30 Janu­ary 1943. Voronezh itself was a frontline town though never conquered by the Nazis, despite the violent and bloody battles.

Cultural treasures were destroyed or plun­dered in Voronezh, as was the case of other major regional centers in Russia. The town had a regional library with of many thousands books, unique collections of Voronezh Uni­versity library, the Museum of Fine Arts, and I.S. Nikitin Museum. Under the circumstances, most of the property of Voronezh University could not be evacuated, including the extremely rich library collections. Therefore, the Staff of Reichsleiter A. Rosenberg, government minis­ter for occupied eastern territories, had an im­mense «sphere of action».

Most books from Voronezh were relocated to Kursk. Some were immediately dispatched to Rosenberg Staff in Kiev. A report of 5 January 1943 by Dr. G. Ney, a Library Staff agent, men­tions 7500 early-printed books brought to Kiev from Voronezh and selected for the Higher School Central Library[1].

Various Staff services took an interest in Vo­ronezh book collections. Thus the «Ostland» Main Task Force requested books from Vo­ronezh, applying to Sturmbahnfuhrer Georg Anton, chief of the «Ukraine» Main Task Force. G. Anton wrote to inform that selection of re­quired books on art in Voronezh libraries was prevented by street fighting, and examination of Voronezh books in Kursk was impeded be sev­eral circumstances, staff shortage in particular[2].

The Rosenberg Staff Command attached spe­cial importance to Voronezh University library collections. In the autumn 1942, Sturmbahnfuh­rer Anton signed an Instruction concerning a survey of the Library collections. The survey was led by Dr. Skolaude, with Dr. G. Ney as assistant commissioner. Anton reported «note- worthy book collections rescued by Wehrmacht forces and dispatched to Kursk». Both Skolaude and Ney were specifically instructed to: 1) se­lect Derpt University collections incorporated in Voronezh University Library collections, on consultation with local experts; 2) select other relevant collections for the Higher School Li­brary and the Ostbucherei; 3) deliver selected col­lections in the two categories to Kiev[3].

Dr. Ney reported 3 October 1942 on com­pleting examination of Voronezh University Library and local public library collections (800 thousand volumes) brought to Kursk. He em­phasized only partial displacement of the col­lections, the «routine propaganda and belles-lettres being left behind in Voronezh». Total 700,000 volumes were carried in 11 railway cars from Voronezh to Kursk and placed in a school building. Ney also reported Staff members would start collection survey after the eco­nomic force had selected items of military and economic nature. His initial screening indicated that, in addition to Derpt University collections, there were books from the theological seminary, St. Michael Cadet Corps, Teachers' Training In­stitute, Derpt girls gymnasia and some private collections.

Among the more valued collections were those published between the 16th- and the 18th centuries, and in the early 20th century, the eco­nomic force selecting 7 thousand such volumes. Ney himself selected 1500 volumes for the Higher School Library and the Ostbucherei, in­cluding almost 400 very rare early-printed Rus­sian books, primarily of historical, geographical and religious nature. Referring to inadequate storage conditions, Ney proposed dispatching more valuable volumes to Kiev[4].

Dr. Skolaude likewise reported to the «Ukraine» Main Task Force, 14 December 1942, on the propaganda division starting Vo­ronezh collections survey, as instructed by Lieu­tenant General Mahrseil. He wrote that, while not interested in Voronezh collections, the pro­paganda division would render assistance to Staff members. Skolaude reported selection of Voronezh collections in the following catego­ries:

- All books bearing the Derpt University Stamp;

- All early publications;

- All Russian journals and magazines;

- All Russian books on art, history, ethnog­raphy and racial studies.

The belles-lettres category was referred to the propaganda division. Local experts were in­volved in selection work[5].

Examination and classification of Vorone­zh collections took almost a month. The final statement runs: «15 000 old-printed volumes selected for the Higher School Library, and 6455 volumes for the Ostbucherei». Particularly emphasized were leather-bound volumes with fine prints and bookplates among most of the old editions. «One should not underestimate the scientific importance of the books for the Higher School and various other State services and institutions - Skolaude wrote. - They of­fer a great bibliographical and antiquarian, and hence material value. Selection of Derpt Uni­versity book collections is getting on well»[6].

So why did Voronezh University book col­lections excite the rapt Nazi attention? The an­swer lies not only in their awareness of their unique value but also in their propagandistic goals. The occupation regime always strove to appear as a defender of law and champion of European culture. Nazis were notoriously con­cerned with Baltic nations, actively promoting pro-German attitudes. Profiting by miscalcu­lated Soviet policy and Stalinist repressions in Baltic lands, the occupation authorities posed as protectors of Estonian, Latvian and Lithu­anian nations. In fact, Derpt books first came to Voronezh when Yuriev (Dorpat) University Library collections were evacuated during the World War I. Nazis relied on legal evidence of unauthorized displacement of the book collec­tions to Voronezh.

Research conducted by Voronezh University Librarian S. V. Janz gives an insight in the events associated with the presence of Derpt Univer­sity book collections in Voronezh.

The founding collections of the University Library were donated by Russian scholars and Russian academic institutions. As seen above, Derpt University book collections were re­moved to Voronezh during the World War I. Several years after, Estonian Government re­quested their recovery. Accounting for compli­cated situation in 1920, Estonian request was considered. Under a peace treaty, Russia agreed to restore the property of Yuriev University, in­cluding the library collections, archives, training aids, and other items. A. V. Lunacharsky wrote to V.I. Lenin, emphasizing that the 400 thousand volumes intended for Derpt were actually Rus­sian printed collections and the People's Com­missariat for Education (Narkompros) argued against total restitution. Between 19 November and 7 December 1920, statements of selec­tion and purchase of books for Voronezh were completed in the presence of representatives of the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, and Voronezh and Yuriev universities. 48 were purchased, including 12 of the age of Catherine II, and С. M. Baire's manuscripts. Some rare edi­tions were purchased later. Additionally, Tartu University representatives delivered a part of the books to Voronezh University. Interestingly, the books that Nazis brought from Voronezh to Tartu (Derpt) in 1943 were received by Uni­versity Librarian Fr. Puksoo who had been in­volved in the 1920 restitution negotiations and was thus well aware of their being purchased by Voronezh University at the time.

Obtaining «justice» by recovering Voronezh books to Derpt University was considered as a great political case.

On 24 April 1943, German occupation au­thorities arranged, with characteristic pompos­ity and extensive press coverage, a ceremonial delivery of Voronezh books to Derpt Univer­sity. This involved 2986 volumes previously in Yuriev University collections, and 1834 of dif­ferent provenance.

The ceremony in the lavishly decorated Union Hall was attended by the faculty and undergraduates, the audience also including Commissar General Obergruppenfuhrer SS Litzmann, Oberfuhrer SS Moller, and Rosen­berg Staff members. This was followed by a concert performance[7].



Am «24» August 1943 Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, vertreten durch Frau Dr. E. Maier und Herr H. Krulick, ubergab der Universitat Dorpat, und die Universitat Dorpat, vertreten durch Rector Prof. Edg. Kant und durch dessen Beschluss vom 30.7.43 bestimmte kommission, bestehend aus dern Leiter der Universitatshauptbibliothek Herrn Fr. Puksoo (Leiter der Kommision), Herrn E. Vigel als Vertreter des Genannten, und den MitgItedern herrn Prof. P. Haliste, dessen stellvertretender Hilfskraft Frl. L. Pintmann und dern Juriskonsult der Universitat Herrn A. Maaroos, hat empfangen in 51 Kisten befindlichen 4820 Bucher, unterdessen befanden

1) 2986 Bucher, die der ehemaligen Univer­sitat, Jurjew gehort haben und zur Zeit des ersten Teltkrieges (1914—1918) bei der Evakuierung nach Russland gebracht worden sind und

2) 1834 Bucher, die der fruheren Universitat Ju­rjew nicht gehort haben.

Das Titelverzeichnis der Bucher ist dern vorliegenden Bericht beigefugt.


This 24th August 1943 Reichsleiter Rosenberg Task Operations Staff, as represented by Dr. Mrs. E. Maier and Mr. H. Krulick, delivered to the Derpt University, and the Derpt University, as rep­resented by Rector Prof. Edg. Kant and his com­mission, appointed 30.07.43 and including Univer­sity Librarian Mr. Fr. Puksoo (chair); Mr. E. Vigel, deputy of the above; and Prof. P. Haliste, assistant resident Miss L. Pintmann; and legal adviser for the University, Mr. A. Maaroos, received 51 cases with 4820 books including:

1) 2986 books formerly of the Yuriev Univer­sity and evacuated to Russia during the World War I (1914-1918), and

2) 1834 books formerly not of the Yuriev Uni­versity.

List of Titles is attached.

Ubergeben durch die Vertreter des Einsatzstabes Reichsleiter Rosenberg:
(Dr. A. Maier, Obe reinsatzfuhrerin)

Empfangen durch die Vertreter der Universitat Dorpat:

(P. Kopp)
(K. Kullango)
(L. Pintman)
(A. Maaroos)

Delivered by repre­sentatives of Opera­tions Staff Reichsleiter Rosenberg:
(Dr. E. Maier)

Received by University representatives

(P. Kopp)
(K. Kullango)
(L. Pintmann)
(A. Maaros)*

* TsGA VOU. F. 3676. Op. 1. D. 144. L. 477-478.


Reporting on the ceremony, Staff Chief General Utikahl mentioned Bruno Skolaude as a victim of the confiscation process, probably to emphasize the important event. The case was far more prosaic, however, Skolaude dying of malaria in a war hospital in Kursk and then replaced by Kurt Denman. Skolaude's «heroic death» in recovering Derpt library collections proved a myth[8].

Dr. Ney's reports suggest certain knowledge of Voronezh library collections when survey­ing the book depository in Kursk. He refers to 1930 records of 316 libraries in Voronezh[9], and mentions a pre-war local public library (mean­ing Voronezh Regional library) of 800,000 vol­umes[10].

Voronezh was released by the 60th Army led by General Chernvakhovsky 25 January 1943. Nazis left behind ashes, ruins and building skel­etons, wrecked pavements, mutilated streets and fired factories. No lighting, no water, no heat. The town lay in fuming debris... Formal state­ment: of damage inflicted on Voronezh by Ger­man Fascist invaders in the occupation period between 7 July 1942 and 25 January 1943 contains tremendous evidence: out of 20 thousand dwelling houses, they destroyed or exploded 18 277, totaling 1237 thousand square meters; 64 kilometers tramway lines; and 92% of mu­nicipal stock.

The statement of damaged cultural treasures in the town, completed 2 February 1943, men­tions the burnt-down municipal public library, Museum of Fine Arts, Revolution Museum, and the town's oldest: building, the Tulinov house. As a result of the actions of occupa­tion forces, the Museum of Local Lore was de­stroyed, with all objects of value plundered, and some ground floor premises used for stables. ’The old building dating from the age of Cath­erine 11 was beyond recognition. Severe dam­age was caused to Nikitin Memorial Museum, with all exposition stands broken and the books torn. Museum Library collections were either destroyed or thrown away[11].

Most book collections of Voronezh State Teachers' Training and Agricultural Institutes were lost.

Actual annihilation of Voronezh State University merits special attention. The state­ment of inspection for the ruined building of 25 March 1943 indicates that the main building was blown up by retreating Nazi forces. Departmental, office and laboratory equip­ment was either destroyed or taken away to Germany. Precious collections of University Foundation library of almost half a million volumes were completely destroyed, including a number of unique publications and the Geo­logical Museum collection. The Biology build­ing, containing the private library and research archives of Professor C.-C. Saint-Hilaire, was burnt down. The chemical laboratory and li­brary building was partly exploded and de­stroyed[12].

When the town was liberated, the university administration was informed of some library collections remaining in Kursk. Although a li­brary group led by Librarian S.O. Onikienko went to Kursk, continuous war actions prevent­ed investigation. Some of the collections (7 rail­way carloads) were not recovered until 1944, among other library collections.

RSFR Narkompros (People's Commissariat for Education) library records give an estimate of the losses for the regional library system.

Records of 15 October 1943 indicate a size­able part of Narkompros library system (Ta­ble 1).

Great losses suffered Voronezh Regional li­brary, one of the oldest in the country. It was founded in 1864 and celebrated its 75th an­niversary before the war. By 1939, the li­brary collections comprised more than 600,000 volumes[13]. There were 5,000 by 1 October 1943, with one hundred thousand volumes dis­covered in Kursk and still there.

In the period between 4 June 1942 and 25 January 1943, Nazi air raids and bombard­ment destroyed 3 out of 4 archival deposito­ries in Voronezh State Regional Archives. The archives (about 626 thousand files dating from 1704 to 1941) were lost. These being primarily pre-Revolutionary records, it is not surprising that а 1961 guide of Voronezh State Regional Archives demonstrates very poor pre-1917 local historical content.


Table 1



25% to 75% lost

Regional library


Municipal libraries


District libraries


Rural libraries


Children's libraries




* Воронежская область в Великой Отечественной войне.P.160.


Like in other Russian regions, the State Pub­lications Fund directly contributed for regional library rehabilitation projects. Books were dis­tributed to the regional, 3 municipal and 15 dis­trict libraries by October 1943[14]. Thus, library staff and administration in Tomsk alone con­tributed 20,000 volumes for Voronezh town and five library collections of one thousand volumes each for Voronezh Region[15].

An extremely important contribution to the Voronezh University Library rehabilitation project is being made by the staff led by Librar­ian Ms S. V. Janz repeatedly emphasizing their commitment to cooperative solutions for the displaced cultural property agenda, with any persons willing to provide any information on the remaining or lost library collections. Yet the long and cumbersome written and physical ne­gotiations on recovering books now in Tartu University collections have not met with suc­cess despite the existing statement of delivery by the Operations Staff. Colleagues in Tartu ar­gue that no inventory is available and that the collections are of no great value.

The situation of suppressed «captured» books results in the lack of any comprehensive information of collections lost or transferred from other libraries in Russia[16].


A.M. Masuritsky, I.G. Matveeva; G.V. Mikheeva

[1] TsGA VOU.F.3676, op.1, d.136.L.237-241.

[2] TsGA VOU.F.3676, op.1, D.144.L.90

[3] Ibid.D.11.L.59-62.

[4] TsGA VOU.F.3676, op.1, L.63-69, 71 verso.

[5] Ibid.L.54-56.

[6] TsGA VOU.F.3676, op.1, L.43-45.

[7] TsGA VOU.F.3676, Op.1, D.136.L.91-96.

[8] TsGA VOU.F.3676, op.1, D.11.L.30-40.

[9] Probably including all libraries in the town, along with departmental, institutional and industrial collections.

[10] TsGA VOU F. 3676, op. 1, d. 11. L. 63-79.

[11] Воронежская область в Великой Отечественной войне. Воронеж, 1948. Р. 163—168.

[12] GARF. F. 7901, op. 1, d. 153. L. 76.

[13] Бадьин А.И. 75 лет Воронежской публичной библиотеке. Воронеж, 1939. P. 46.

[14] GARF. F. 2306, op. 69, d. 3563. L. 22.

[16] Янц С.В. Перспективы сотрудничества библиотеки Воронежского университета по восстановлению фондов библиотек [Electronic resource]. – Access mode:


Concluding remarks

This issue of information reference publica­tion Summary Catalogue of Cultural Treasures plundered and lost during the World War II Vol­ume 11, is the first in a series describing lost book collections in Voronezh. The issue covers foreign publications dating from the 16th- to the second half of the 19th century, formerly among the more valued collections of Voronezh State University Research Library.

Organization of this book largely depends on the material involved: The Preface; the His­tory of the Voronezh State University Research Library in 1942-1943, describing general library losses in Voronezh town and Voronezh Region and starting from printed and archival sources is followed by the Catalogue of lost foreign pub­lications in Voronezh State University Research Library for the period of the Great Patriotic War; Name Index. It should be remembered that these only represent a part of the unique Library collections.

Data on book losses for this volume were ob­tained from captured German archives, mainly of the Rechsleiter Rosenberg Operations Staff, provided for the compilers by the Department for Cultural Treasures at Russian Federation Culture Ministry in due course. Initial lists at our disposal were fragmentary, with multiple errors and misprints, often with Russian translation for foreign titles and misspelled authors. The lists were preceded with stamps of different librar­ies whose books were once incorporated in Vo­ronezh State University Research Library collec­tions and lost there during the World War II.

Descriptions in this volume are grouped chronologically and by author with each year.

As for previous issues, initial lists required checking and refining. The National Library of Russia undertook laborious and complicated research for bibliographical identification and specification of lost collections in Voronezh University Library. Our research involved the whole range of available reference aids and publications including the printed and card cat­alogues and collections of the National Library of Russia; national bibliographies, industrial and departmental reference and bibliographi­cal publications. Worldwide Internet searching covered all library databases with substantial in­formation obtained, in particular, from Consor­tium catalogues for major European libraries.

The complicated bibliographical research al­lowed identification for most of the lost pub­lications. The compilers are aware of potential inaccuracies in the Catalogue. Informed deci­sions on inclusion in the line of losses always required in-depth analyses and consultations with leading book scientists and historians.

The compiling and editorial efforts involved are clearly illustrated by comparison of original and resulting items in the Catalogue of losses in Voronezh State University Library collections.


G. Ney's report:

Petersen, C. Ueber die Bedeutung mythologischer Darstellungen... 1855.

Elements de calcul infinitesimal. Livre III.

Gunther, A. Additions to the knowledge of .Australian Reptiles and Fishes.

Woronin, M. Exobasidum vaccinii. 1867.

Schroder, J. Untersuchung der Samen der Brassica-Arten (1871).

Saussure, H. de. Prodrome des Adipodiens.


Enhanced records:

Petersen, Christian. Ueber die Bedeutung mythologischer Darstellungen an Geschenken bei den Griechen : Bine Festgabe. - Hamburg : Perthes, Besser et Mauke, 1855. - 31,1 S. - (Vortrag zur Feier von Winckelmann’s Geburtstag, gehalten am 9. Dec. 1853. Abgedruckt aus dem Michaelis-Programm des Gymnasiums 1854). - (Verzeichniss der Vorlesungen, am Hamburgischen akaclemischen und Real-Gymnasium von Michaelis 1854 bis Ostern 1855 ge­halten werden).

Duhamel, Jean Marie Constant. Elements de calcul infinitesimal / par m. Duhamel. - Par­is : Mallet-Bachelier, 1856. — T. 1, livre 3: Des limites de sommes, calcul inverse du calcul differentiel. - P. 417-585.

Gunther, A. Additions to the Knowledge of Australian Reptiles and Fishes // Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. - 1867. - Vol. 20, Ser. 3. - P. 45-68.

Voronin, Mikhail Stepanovich. Exobasidium vaccinii (Fuckel) Woronin // Berichte uber die Verhandlungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft zu Freiburg im Breisgau. - 1867. — Bd. 4(4). -S. 397.

Schroder, Julius von. Untersuchung der Samen der Brassica-Arten und Varietaten // Die landwirtschaftlichen Versuchsstationen. - Darmstadt, 1871. - Bd. 14. - S. 179-194.

Saussure, Henrico de. Prodromus oedipodiorum insectorum ex ordine orthopterorum = Prodrome des oedipodiens insects de l’ordre des orthopteres / auctore Henrico de Saussure. - Geneve: Georg, 1884-1888. - 254 p. + Additamenta ad Prodromum Oedipodiorum. In­sectorum ex ordine orthopteror. - 182 p., 1 l.: 20 ill.; 4".


At the final stage of the project, the en­hanced and classified records were delivered to Voronezh University library. Decisions on inclusion in this Catalogue were only made on checking in situ and confirmation of loss in the Great Patriotic War for each item in question.

Records in the list of losses conform to our national GOST standard for bibliographical document description, and specifications basing on instructions and guidelines for early-printed foreign publications, as developed by the lead­ing specialists of the National library of Rus­sia. No additional abbreviations were used in this case.

Each record represents every detail of each specific lost item: marks, stamps, inventory numbers, binding characteristics. The details are indispensable for precise identification of a spe­cific lost copy.

The lists are accompanied with illustrations of some lost copies. The illustrations were pro­duced by the National library of Russia from rare editions in the library collections, with the assumption of total identity with lost Voronezh University collections. We are unable to dem­onstrate all the items here, however, not only for reasons of space. In fact, even the very rich collections of the National Library of Rus­sia lack many of the editions lost by Voronezh University Library, thus providing an additional evidence of significant and irrecoverable book losses in Russia.

Work is under way on the next issues of this volume, also dealing with the immense losses of Voronezh University.

As a matter fact, investigation of book losses in our country is taking a new course with radi­cally new approaches - from summarized data to specific lost copies.

Hopefully, this Catalogue would attract the attention of libraries in different Russian re­gions, whether robbed of their book treasures or never occupied. They could provide infor­mation on investigated losses or duplicates of Voronezh University library collections. Re­production copies, electronic versions or CDs would be equally useful. We would also like to invite our foreign colleagues to constructive dialog. It is only our mutual support in recov­ering library losses that will relieve the dev­astating effects of war invariably victimizing book treasures. Who knows but our concerted action for library rehabilitation may provide the prerequisite for preventing future war di­sasters.

G.V. Mikheeva


The list of lost book collections of Voronezh State University Area Library[*]


Images on seals, stamps and other proprietory marks in books from Voronezh State University Area Library


[*] Reported by Voronezh Slate University Area Library from the «Annotated List, the Reichsleiter Rosenberg Operation Staff», «Voronezh University Report of Books Purchased from Tartu University» and Library inventories for 1934 and 1935. A major portion of reported books may have seals or stamps used by Derpt University or some other institutional libraries.

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