Like many libraries, the La Grange Park Public Library in Illinois happily accepts donations. Last spring they received a rare Nazi artifact that may have been trashed had it not been for a sharp librarian. Circulation Services Director Ursula Stanek grew up in Germany, so any donated German books end up on her desk. A few months ago a book marked “Geheim!”, German for ‘secret’, caught her eye. Upon further examination Stanek realized the library had a rare Nazi text in its possession.
Entitled 1938-1941: Vier Jahre, Hermann-Göring-Werke, the book detailed the Nazi’s four-year economic blueprint for a steel-producing industrial site in Salzgitter, Germany. The book was given to workers in the steel mill as a Christmas gift. Stanek also made an exciting discovery within the book. Inserted in the book’s pages was letterhead and an envelope from the desk of Hermann Göring, who was commander in chief of the Luftwaffe from 1935 until the end of the war.
Stanek contacted the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and curators recognized the book right away. The museum had actually purchased a reproduction some time ago, but they were elated to have an original in their possession as it is now the only known copy in a U.S. library or museum. (There are several copies of the text in Europe.) Lenore Bell, Library Director at the USHMM, said that the acquisition of the book and Göring’s letterhead was very notable because the items are unique and will provide unique perspectives for future researchers.
Rare Nazi Book Marked ‘Secret’ Found by Library Staff in La Grange Park [La Grange Patch]