The University of Potsdam Library recently returned a Sefer Mitzvos Gadol (Smag), penned by Rav Moshe of Coucy and printed in Venice in 1546, to its owners in Israel, Berl Schor and his son, David.
This was in keeping with the 1998 Washington Declaration in which 44 countries committed to locate looted artwork in museums and public collections.
David Schor, a keen family historian, told the Jerusalem Post that he identified the sefer by coincidence when he typed in the name of his father’s maternal great-great-great-grandparents for fun. A photograph of the sefer appeared on-screen with the same stamps and signatures as many seforim in his family’s Schor-Frankel family collection, which includes volumes going back to the beginning of print.
After the death of Berl Schor’s grandparents, the Frankel Library joined the library of their son-in-law, Majer Schor (Berl Schor’s father), in Krakow, who, before his murder, left the library in cellars of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow University, from where it was later transferred to the family in Eretz Yisroel.
The University of Potsdam Library is the first of only six institutions to assess whether their holdings are Nazi loot. A list of 12,000 seforim and books can be seen at http://lootedculturalassets.de.