Abb Gustav

Publié le par Roger Cousin

Gustav Abb (February 23, 1886 in Berlin - April 28, 1945) was a German librarian and Nazi.

Gustav Abb received his doctorate in 1911 from the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, now known as the Humboldt University of Berlin. His thesis was written on the history of the Chorin Cloisters (Geschichte des Klosters Chorin) in Brandenburg. From 1921 to 1925 he was Chairman of the Prussian Library Affairs Advisory Council. In 1923 he became library director of the Prussian State Library. He joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and in 1935 he became director of the University Library in Berlin. From 1937 he was chairman of the Association of German Librarians (VDB). In the year after the Anschluss, on 30 May 1939 he declared in the opening speech at the annual meeting of the VDB in Graz, paying homage to Adolf Hitler, he praised him as the creator and expander of the German Reich.

During World War II, Abb was given the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer and deployed in July 1940 as head of the central administration of the libraries (Leiter der Hauptverwaltung der Bibliotheken) in occupied Poland. He was also a member of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg. After the German attack and invasion on the Soviet Union in 1941, he was made commissioner for the protection of libraries in the ERR. “…From the very beginning of the establishment of the Staatsbibliothek Krakau, special importance was given to materials related to the natural sciences, mathematics, geography and medicine. In the fiscal year 1940-1941, the amount of money spent on book purchases was surpringly high.” The Germans recognized the value of the scientific collection, and from 1941 through 1944, 35,599 books were borrowed by 2,621 patrons, mostly German civil servants and military personnel.

Polish civilians were not allowed access to the library during the occupation. Gustav Abb, the German overseer of libraries, decided to send much of the reference collection to Germany in 1944. “Abb decided to send the major part of the reference collection, as well as most of the books bought by the Staatsbibliothek to Germany (altogether about 25,000 volumes). [Polish] Librarians, charged with the task of filling boxes with books, tried to sabotage Abb’s orders. They hid a large number of books and stuffed boxes with old newspapers. Despite those heroic efforts to save the collection, the Germans were still able to send a great number of books to Adelsdorf (Adelin) in Silesia. Fortunately, after the war the library was able to recover most of the books that Abb had evacuated from the library.” Later in the war, the main reading room was used as sleeping quarters for German soldiers, and other parts of the library were used as a hospital for Germans. He was killed in 1945. In the Soviet Zone of Occupation, his primary book in Library Science, the Scientific Librarian (Der wissenschafltiche Bibliothekar), was proscribed.

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