June 27, 2016
One A’mason’ Discovery
by Ryan Harrington
There are star-studded blockbuster films dedicated to celebrating the uncovering and restoration of priceless art plundered by the Nazis. You hear much less about great reads that they might have laid their sticky fascist fingers on.
But The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees Berlin’s Museums and state library, is on the case. The Associated Press has reported that “The Berlin State Library is returning 384 books, magazines and other publications dating back to the 18th century to a Freemason Lodge after determining they were stolen by the Nazis in the 1930s.”
The books had original markings and stamps in them that told the story of their ownership, as well as that of the organization in general. Not only did the Nazis steal these volumes from the Potsdam Freemason lodge—one of the largest in Germany at the time—but they shuttered the lodge and banned secret societies, including freemasonry. The lodge reopened in 1991, and is now 384 objects richer.
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.