Libraries Destroyed in World War II

Libraries offer people a sanctuary for learning and information. As often happens, knowledge can be seen as a threat. This timeline looks at libraries that were purposely destroyed during the 20th Century.

1938-09-30 17:08:24

Czechoslovakian Libraries

Total losses of books and manuscripts after the Munich Conference and during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia is estimated at 2,000,000 volumes.

1939-04-21 17:08:24

Polish Libraries

After the German invasion of Poland, many public and private libraries were completely destroyed as well as the volumes held within. Some estimates put the losses at over 15 million volumes.

1939-09-01 09:06:54

German Libraries

The Library of the Technical University, Aachen; Staatsbibliothek (National Library), Berlin; Stadtbibliothek (Municipal Library), Berlin; Library of the Reichstag, Berlin; Deutsche Heeresbücherei (Library of the German Army), Berlin; University Library, Bonn; Staatsbibliothek Library, Bremen; The Hessische Landesbibliothek, Darmstadt; Library of the Technical University, Darmstadt; Stadt- und Landesbibliothek (Municipal and State Library), Dortmund; Sächsische Landesbibliothe, Dresden; Stadtbibliothek (Municipal Library) , Dresden; Library of the Verein für Erdkunde (Geographical Society), Dresden; Stadtbücherei (Municipal Library), Essen; Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek (Municipal and University Library) , Frankfurt; University Library, Giessen; University Library, Greifswald; Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, Hamburg; Commerz-Bibliothek (Commercial Library), Hamburg; Stadtbibliothek (Municipal Library) , Hannover; Badische Landesbibliothek, Karlsruhe; Library of the Technical University, Karlsruhe; The Landesbibliothek , Kassel; Murhardsche Bibliothek, Kassel; University Library, Kiel; Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesbibliothek, Kiel; University Library, Leipzig; Stadtbibliothek (Municipal Library), Leipzig; Library of the German Museum of the Book, Leipzig; Stadtbibliothek (Municipal Library), Magdeburg; University Library, Marburg; Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munchen; University Library, Munchen; Benedictine Library, Munchen; University Library, Munster; Library of the FürstenbgerStammheim Family, Munster; The Stadtbibliothek, Nurnberg; Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart; Library of the Technical University, Stuttgart; Stuttgart Music Academy, Stuttgart; and the University Library, Wurzburg were all casualties of war. All in all over 9 million volumes were lost over the course of World War II.

1940-01-01 04:04:13

Italian Libraries

Both Allied and German air raids resulted in losses at the Public Library of Milan, the University Library of Naples, Palatina Library in Parma, and the National Library in Turin.

1940-05-01 00:00:00

Library of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium

In 1914, the Germans set fire to this library. It was rebuilt in 1928, but during World War II this library was once again destroyed. The library had been rebuilt, and had a collection of around 700,000 volumes.

1940-05-17 04:04:13

Provincial Library of Zeeland, Netherlands

On May 17, 1940, the town of Middelberg was bombed by the Germans. Much of the town center was destroyed, including the library.

1940-06-01 00:00:00

French Libraries

The Municipal Library, Beauvais; University and the Municipal Libraries, Caen; Chartres Library, Chartres; Municipal Library, Dieppe; Municipal Library, Douai; Library of the Société Commerciale, Le Havre; manuscripts at Saint-Quentin, Metz; Library of the National Assembly, Paris; National and University Library, Strasbourg; and the Municipal Library, Tours were all devastated by World War II. Many of the libraries were totally destroyed.

1940-07-01 04:25:30

United Kingdom Libraries

University Library of Bristol; Central (Public) Library, Coventry; Central Lending Library, Liverpool; Guildhall Library, London; Minet Public Library, London; and the Library of the British Museum, London were all damaged or destroyed by German troops.

1941-01-01 12:14:08

Russian libraries

When Germany invaded Russia, the public libraries were left as victims. Over 100 million books were destroyed.

1941-04-06 12:14:08

National Library in Belgrade, Serbia

In the middle of the night on April 6, 1941, the city of Belgrade was bombed by the Third Reich. During the bombings, the National Library caught fire and burned completely to the ground.

1942-04-02 08:58:15

Japanese Libraries

In response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. troops used firebombing techniques on Japan. Many libraries, including the Cabinet Library in Tokyo, lost several thousands of volumes.

1944-04-02 08:33:00

University Library of Graz, Austria

In 1944, 60,000 volumes were moved from the University Library of Graz in order to safeguard them from air raids. When the library reopened following the war 4,500 volumes were missing. While the library itself did not receive any structural damage, the library still felt a loss due to World War II.

1944-12-25 08:33:00

Hungarian Libraries

During the siege of Budapest many of the town's buildings were destroyed, including many small libraries. The collections of the Parliament library and the Academy of Sciences suffered greatly. The Polytechnic Institute Library was completely destroyed.

1944-12-26 14:27:14

Romanian Libraries

Public libraries in Romania lost close to 300,000 volumes due to bombings by the U.S. during the war.

Libraries Destroyed in World War II

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