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Return of Cultural Property Displaced During the Second World War - Restitution of the Sugar Library

On 27 June 2013, 713 books from the former library of the Institute for Sugar Manufacture were returned to the Technische Universität Berlin University Library in a ceremonial act at the National Parliamentary Library of Ukraine in Kiev. The Institute for Sugar Manufacture became affiliated with TU Berlin in 1951 and was formally integrated into the University in 1978. Today, sugar technology research is undertaken at the TU Berlin Chair of Food Process Engineering. The former library holdings now make up the University Library’s Sugar Technology, Sugar Chemistry, and Sugar Industry Special Collection.

In the summer of 1945, over 11,000 books were confiscated from the institute by the Soviet military administration and taken to the Soviet Union. A remainder of the sugar library had been located at the scientific research institute for sugar manufacture in Kiev, an institution of the former Soviet Academy of Sciences, since the 1950s.

In the early 1990s, Germany and Ukraine opened discussions and negotiations about the possible restitution of the items removed in 1945. At the time, these negotiations proved unsuccessful. Two years ago, the topic was revisited and concrete steps towards repatriation were taken. The books are currently being returned on the basis of the Ukrainian law “On export, import and return of cultural assets” as well as a protocol resolution of the Interagency Council on Issues of Export, Import and Repatriation of Cultural Property of Ukraine from 22 December 2011.

During the ceremony in recognition of the items’ symbolic return, deputy culture minister Bronislaw Stytschinski emphasized that Ukraine will continue the restitution of cultural goods displaced during World War II, promoting further understanding between Ukraine and the Federal Republic. The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Christof Weil, expressed his appreciation for the return of the books and promised on behalf of Germany to continue to help in the search for Ukrainian cultural assets.

The official certificate was signed by J. S. Lukjaneko, director of the Ukrainian Sugar Industry Research Institute on behalf of Ukraine and by Dr. Regine Dehnel, researcher in the project on National Socialist Looted Art on behalf of the president of Technische Universität Berlin, Professor Jörg Steinbach, and the executive director of the University Library, Dr. Wolgang Zick. In appreciation of the efforts of the Ukrainian Sugar Industry Research Institute to return the books, Regine Dehnel presented J.S. Lukyanenko with a DVD containing digitized copies of 30 historical books from the Sugar Library.

On 24 August 2013, the 713 books were delivered to the University Library. They are currently being cataloged and further documentation of their return is planned. The approximately 3,000 books and journals from the Sugar Library which remain in the possession of the Ukrainian Sugar Industry Research Institute are to be the subject of further German-Ukrainian negotiations at the request of Ukraine.

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