Library and Archives Canada recently acquired this 1944 book previously owned by Adolf Hitler. (photo from Library and Archives Canada)
Library and Archives Canada recently acquired a rare 1944 book previously owned by Adolf Hitler. The 137-page German-language report Statistik, Presse und Organisationen des Judentums in den Vereinigten Staaten und Kanada (Statistics, Media and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada) was compiled by Heinz Kloss. The data contained within it provides details on population statistics in certain cities, as well as key organizations and presses of Canadian and American Jewish communities. The bookplate bears a stylized eagle, swastika, and the words “Ex Libris Adolf Hitler,” indicating it came from Hitler’s personal library.
Kloss, who visited the United States in 1936-1937, was a noted German linguist whose specializations included German speakers living in the United States. He was the head of the Publikationsstelle Stuttgart-Hamburg, which dealt with research on nationality issues, particularly in the United States, and this book was part of a confidential series and for official use only.
The work hints at the story of what might have happened in Canada had the Allies lost the Second World War. It also demonstrates that the Holocaust was not a purely European event, but rather an operation that was stopped before it reached North America. The book adds many insights worthy of reflection for Canada about the Second World War, and is an important tool to fight Holocaust denial.
“It is fundamental for a national institution like Library and Archives Canada – and other memory institutions around the world – to acquire, preserve and make available documents no matter how controversial or contentious they could be,” said Guy Berthiaume, librarian and archivist of Canada. “It allows us to educate and to advocate for the most complete historical record possible. The truth of history is woven from many sources, and it is only when history is presented in its entirety that it can support the free exchange of ideas that lies at the heart of a democratic society.”
This book by Kloss was likely brought to the United States as a war souvenir, as thousands were taken by American soldiers from the Nazi leader’s alpine retreat outside Berchtesgaden in the spring of 1945. The library acquired it from a reputable Judaica dealer who had obtained it as part of a collection owned by a Holocaust survivor, and it will be preserved in the Jacob M. Lowy Collection, where other important items related to Holocaust remembrance reside.
The acquisition of this book highlights the library’s mandate to acquire material that reflects the published record of Canada, as well as to preserve the memory of the Holocaust. It is also a way to let us reflect on what would have happened in Canada had the Second World War ended differently.
“This invaluable report offers a documented confirmation of the fears felt so acutely and expressed by so many Canadian Jews during the Second World War: that the Nazis would land on our shores and, with them, the annihilation of Jewish life here,” said Prof. Rebecca Margolis, department of modern languages and literatures and Vered Jewish Canadian Studies Program, University of Ottawa, and president, Association for Canadian Jewish Studies. “While these fears may seem unfounded given the geographic distance of Nazi Europe to Canada, this handbook offering detailed statistics of Jewish populations across North America underlines their nightmarish potential.”