Thomas Mann personal library repatriation

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Thomas Mann personal library repatriation

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nov 17, 2008, 3:27 pm

"Bavaria's state library will hand over 75 books belonging to German author Thomas Mann that were stolen by the Nazis to an archive in Switzerland, the library announced Wednesday.

His house in Munich was seized by the Nazis in August 1933 but not before his family had managed to transfer well over half of his personal library to Switzerland.

Nazis stole the rest of his collection and placed part of it in Bavaria's state library."

If 75 books is just under half, this would be a pretty quick library to enter. I have a suspicion he owned many more books though... Any German or Swiss members care to take a swing?

A bit more info from the source:

nov 17, 2008, 6:23 pm

The archive these are being sent to may be the one in Zürich with some of his library already, here. I saw this a while ago, but couldn't weasel any titles out of their site. Maybe someone else can.

Nice catch. I should read more news :)

nov 17, 2008, 6:46 pm

I went to the NEBIS catalog and poked around a bit, and found some records with the following note:

Expl. aus der Nachlassbibliothek von Thomas Mann

Which means "Copy from the diminished (?) library of Thomas Mann." The "nachlass-" bit seems a bit odd, although it makes sense if they're noting that the library wasn't complete after the Nazis stole part of it.

If you do a search on "Nachlassbibliothek von Thomas Mann" you get 3402 records, which is a lot more than the ~150 books presumed to exist. However, it looks like some of the records are for articles, letters, or manuscripts.

Redigerat: nov 17, 2008, 7:20 pm

Ah, I see who I need to go to when I need titles weaseled out. I never would have thought to search on Nachlassbibliothek, and my other feeble ideas only returned tons of not-what-I-was-looking-for results.

I bet we could weed out the non-book entries. If we had unlimited time...

nov 17, 2008, 7:33 pm

Oh, I didn't actually search on "Nachlassbibliothek." (I didn't even know the word!)

I did a search on "Thomas Mann" and limited the results to books that were published before he was born or when he was very young, because I figured that would weed out the books that were about him, leaving only book that mentioned him in some other context (hopefully as a former owner). And the first one I found had the mysterious note, so I extrapolated from there.

Also, some of the notes spell out "exemplar" and some abbreviate it, so I cut that out of the search string when trying to pull out all of the entries.

I agree that we could probably weed out the non-books, but it looks like they were all from his personal collection, so I don't think it would be so bad to include some of the other stuff.

nov 18, 2008, 7:12 am

The Thomas-Mann-Archiv in Zurich is not simple a but "the" repository for all things Thomas Mann. Thomas Mann lived in the suburbs of Zurich during the thirties and again in the fifties (leaving the US after HUAC blockheadedly accused the patrician Thomas Mann of communist and stalinistic sympathies).

As one can MARC export up to 1.000 records from NEBIS, I went ahead, divided them up according to publication year (due to the use of placeholders uuuu, 19uu, ..., the sum of 3.332 does not quite match the total of 3.402 records, 81 records missing, sorting by signature should reveal them.) and sent the files on to Tim (as he requested direct-input MARC records in another thread for Legacies):

999 - Words= Nachlassbibliothek Thomas Mann and W-year.= ???? -> 1928
864 - Words= Nachlassbibliothek Thomas Mann and W-year.= 1929 -> 1945
758 - Words= Nachlassbibliothek Thomas Mann and W-year.= 1946 -> 1952
660 - Words= Nachlassbibliothek Thomas Mann and W-year.= 1953 -> 1955
041 - Words= Nachlassbibliothek Thomas Mann and W-year.= 1956 -> ????

I also created a member ThomasMann (password upon request) and a LT Local entry for the Thomas-Mann-Archiv. I will be in Zurich over Xmas and can meet/present/discuss the legacy library with the custodians.

The Bavarian records can probably be added after they have been entered into the archive.

nov 18, 2008, 7:15 am

>3 Katya0133: Nachlassen means "to leave behind", i.e. bequeath, as well as to diminish, so "Nachlassbibliothek" just means the library he bequeathed. Might be worth trying "Nachlaßbibliothek" as well, if you search non-Swiss sources.

nov 18, 2008, 8:54 am



nov 18, 2008, 8:55 am

I'd help with Mann.

Kafka's almost finished.

nov 18, 2008, 10:49 am

>7 thorold:,8

Thanks for the correction on the German. ;)

nov 19, 2008, 7:07 am

May I help? I am a complete newbie to LL catalogueing, but am interested in getting into it with Thomas Mann. I live not too far from Lübeck (where the Buddenbrookhaus is situated).

nov 19, 2008, 7:34 am

Sent out ThomasMann's PW to LolaWalser and GirlFromIpanema.

jbd1, would you be so kind to legacify the account, so that we can brush up the profile while Tim uploads the data?

nov 19, 2008, 10:19 am

Should be all set.

dec 8, 2008, 7:26 am

I started entering the library (Mann already has a bronze batch!). Helping hands welcome.

Every record needs to be checked as LT does crazy things with the data NEBIS provides:
1. Most importantly, LT adds the authority information as first names "Mann, Schriftsteller Thomas" instead of "Mann, Thomas" (from |a Mann, Thomas |c Schriftsteller |d 1875-1955 |9 ger)
2. LT sometimes loses subtitles and publication information as well as messing up translator and first author.

The necessary info is on Mann's LT wikipage where you can download a zipped data set from Rapidshare (or I can email it to you). Just edit the wiki to indicate on which part you are working.

dec 8, 2008, 9:04 am

Urgh. Download doesn't work from here, have to try later from another place.
I'd like to raise my hand for "#4 (660 records 1953-1955) ", please :-).

dec 8, 2008, 3:44 pm

>15 GirlFromIpanema: ok, is noted on the Wiki page.

The download counter for the zip file stands at four, so it seems to be working. Otherwise you can also export the data directly from with a suitable query (Nachlassbibliothek Thomas Mann, 1953 -1955).

I managed to add and correct about fifty records in an hour, so we need about 70 (wo)man hours in total to enter the data.

dec 9, 2008, 4:03 pm

The download was apparently started, but was intercepted by the firewall (or something else) at my office. At home, I could finally save the file to disc.
50 records an hour? Me, never. I did about 7 in half an hour...
Like I said, I am new to this. :-)

dec 9, 2008, 6:03 pm

Perhaps I am too optimistic in my guestimate, as a test I added 15 records in 20 minutes (copy and pasting from the MARC in one window to LT in another). The time sink is combining (which I let LT do in the background while surfing elsewhere ...).

Re tagging: I hope to arrange a meeting before Xmas with a representative of the archive to receive input about a sensible tagging scheme.

I do not think it helps to enter the authority identification (Schriftsteller, Israel) as tags, as these describe only a book's author and not the book itself. Do you find those tags valuable?

dec 11, 2008, 5:00 pm

JC, what terms do you use for the search (I have been using Author/Title)? Is there a secret number in there somewhere, that lets you do it more quickly? :-)
I did start off with the wrong file, so whoever gets file #1, will find the first 10 records already done. :-) Now I am back on track with #4.

dec 12, 2008, 8:15 am

My mad monkey data entry skillz come from searching with the book's signature found on the location line ("LOC |b E73 |h Thomas Mann 50193 |o BOOK |4 ETH-TMA (Zürich) |3 Book/Monograph" -> Thomas Mann 50193). It doesn't work if the number happens to be also a prominent year (1492, 1789, ... ). Then I pick an exotic part of the title string. Oh noes, there goes my awesomeness.

jan 18, 2009, 3:47 pm

With a little over 10% in (400 books, plus a number of non-counted multiple copies), I thought a little test drive of Tim's new "like-it" would be fun. Mann obviously loves his own works. In fact, he loves everything in German, lapping up even the worst celebrity garbage I fed him (as the algorithm bunches together the small German speaking LT population).

On the other hand, the algorithm says he would love Ernesto Sábato's The outsider, one of the latest I added, and indeed the Amazon description starts with: " When it was first published in Spanish, THE TUNNEL won the applause of Thomas Mann and Albert Camus and was described as an existentialist classic," reminded The New York Times Book Review." (Footnote: The novel has since shed its original English title, reverting to a translation of its original title).

As far as data accuracy is concerned, I wish LT would not lose so much of the NEBIS data. It even loses the number of pages and other basic bibliographic information. Is there a chance that you could fine-tune the import filter?

jan 19, 2009, 3:12 am

(*wispers* Oh errr, I should get back on track with catalogueing...)

"he loves everything in German, lapping up even the worst celebrity garbage I fed him"

*giggle* Dieter Bohlen?

jan 30, 2009, 11:42 am

Too few copies of Dieter's oeuvre for the algorithm. I must confess that I quite liked reading his paen to stinginess, average taste and his burgeouis 9-5 approach to churn out music ...

Testing the new meme, I see that at least four authors in Mann's library are still alive 54 years after his death (among them Gore Vidal).

Watch out, Kafka, Thomas Mann will soon claim your pole position as the largest German language legacy library.

feb 8, 2009, 1:22 pm

Thomas Mann has overtaken Kafka as the largest German language Legacy library. It is telling that nearly half of Mann's works are either by or about him, while Kafka does not list a single of his own works. Both have a large number of books by friends and - in Mann's case - family.

Following Katya's lead, adding ten books a day is a good way to avoid tedium.

feb 28, 2009, 3:23 pm

Next week, we should reach the 1.000 mark.

On Friday, in the 100th anniversary exhibition of Friedrich Torberg in the Viennese Jewish Museum, I saw Torberg's own 1943 novel published by Pazifische Presse in Los Angeles. His copy is no. 100/500, while Mann's collection has no. 91. I wondered whether Mann would own a copy as Torberg had attacked Mann for not showing enough solidarity during the early 1930s.

I will probably take a break from entering Mann, as Prince Eugene's 0 copies vexes me.

jan 31, 2010, 5:21 pm

Nearly a year later, the 2.000 mark has been reached (60%).

Importing the records is tiresome, as all singletons have to be uncombined from themselves (due to LT's broken NEBIS import filter which inserts authority data into the author name) - seven additional clicks per record.

I am currently entering books published around 1921 with a huge number of translated Russian works (perhaps no wonder as Berlin hosted 350,000 Russian emigrants/refugees from the Russian Civil War at the time, among them one Vladimir Nabokov).

dec 12, 2010, 11:33 am

Apart from the 61 titles that started the project, the library is now complete (apart from some necessary data clean-up). I have written to the Thomas Mann Archiv to ask whether they have now cataloged those 61 titles (which they had not, the last time I asked) and am eagerly awaiting their reply.

dec 14, 2010, 11:22 am

Hi jcbrunner & everyone else!

Just wanted to congratulate you on this fantastic effort. Thomas Mann was next to Nietzsche one of my late husband's favourite author and he surely would have loved to have had access to Thomas M's library list.

I mentioned on another post that part of my reason for adding Pekic to the LT was to add his library list to LT which unfortunately consists of roughly 4,000 titles....

dec 17, 2018, 1:22 pm

The Thomas Mann House has paired up with ABAA-members Brad and Jennifer Johnson of Johnson Rare Books & Archives in Covina, California, to recreate the author's personal library during the years he spent in California.

This informative video details the exciting project...

dec 17, 2018, 4:58 pm

>29 benjclark: That’s the job I would want if I were an antiquarian book dealer. Nice!

(And nearly ten years on, the penny has finally dropped about the comparison with Kafka in >24 jcbrunner:. Not vanity, but Mann had 30 years plus of publications to his credit by the time he got to California, while Kafka published virtually nothing in his lifetime. Duh!)