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Aufgeklappte Schachtel, darin rechts eine Zeichnung mit einer Widmung. Links ist die Deckelinnenseite zu sehen, auf der Heinrich Hirschbergs Exlibris klebt. Es zeigt im Vordergrund ein aufgeschlagenes Buch auf einem Tisch, im Hintergrund ist durch einen Fensterrahmen eine Fabrik zu erkennen.

Provenance Research

The Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin is researching its collection for Nazi-confiscated objects.

Returning a piece of memory

Two library stamp imprints are seen on the title page of an open book. They are centered under the heading "Le fond de la mer," which is French for "The Seabed".
The title page of the book "Le fond de la mer" has two stamp imprints. Libraries use stamps to identify their property. The Institute and Museum of Oceanography in Berlin began using a red stamp with two swastikas in 1936. The blue stamp led the Deutsches Technikmuseum to the original owner of the book, the French girls' school in Pontlevoy.
SDTB / C. Kirchner

On December 7th the Deutsches Technikmuseum returned a book that had been stolen by German occupying forces in France during the Second World War. This is the museum’s first act of repatriation within the framework of a research project funded by the German Center for Lost Cultural Property that is looking into the origin of museum objects in the Deutsches Technikmuseum. A book published in 1920 titled “Le fond de la mer (The Seabed)” by the French marine zoologist Louis Joubain was returned. It describes the seas and their inhabitants.

The book’s place of origin could be determined by a stamp on the title page. This led the provenance research team to Pontlevoy, France. In that small town near Tours there used to be a girls' school from which the book was stolen. Today the Lycée Catholique de Pontlevoy is found at that location and the book was ceremonially accepted by its director in the presence of the students.

Reviewing the collections

The Deutsches Technikmuseum collects all manner of items relating to the cultural history of technology. This includes not only large vehicles like locomotives, airplanes, and ships, but also many everyday devices such as radios, typewriters, bicycles, and cameras.

But how did these objects end up in the Museum? And more importantly, who did they belong to before they got here?

In 2017, the Museum began scouring its collection for objects that had been confiscated by the Nazi regime, mostly from Jewish owners. The collection of historic automobiles was the first to have its provenance investigated.

From May 2019 to May 2020, the pilot project "Identification of Nazi-looted goods in collections of technical history", funded by the German Lost Art Foundation in Magdeburg, has developed a strategy for systematically reviewing its collections.

Afterwards, the deep-going investigation of the collections began. The two-year project "Identification of Nazi-looted goods in the collection of the Deutsches Technikmuseum inventoried between 1982 and 1989" is again being funded by the German Lost Art Foundation.

Project Manager

Peter Schwirkmann

Department Head Collections Services


Tel +49 30 902 54 157

Provenance Research

Peter Prölß


Tel +49 30 902 54 457


The project is funded by German Lost Art Foundation.

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