Kohls and Andert found out that this book’s story dated back to the Holocaust. It was taken from Jewish pharmacist Leopold Scheyer’s once extensive science library as a consequence of his disownment. After fleeing to Holland in 1939, Scheyer took his own life when threatened with deportation in 1943. Two years later his wife Nanny Scheyer died in a concentration camp in Holland, but their children and grandchildren fled to safety.
Together with the Berlin NS Loot Project, Kohls and Andert tracked down one of Scheyer’s granddaughters in the United Kingdom, Dr. Edith Wiener, who accepted the book in the name of two great-grandchildren who live in the United States. The book was returned at a small ceremony during a scientific conference.
Being respectful of the ancestors’ right to the book was of especial importance to Andert and Kohls whose work for Samueli Institute is on how mindfulness can initiate and support healing processes. For Kohls the return of the book is not about the return of an object but an acknowledgement of the immeasurable suffering for the Scheyer family.
“Books often bear traces of the user and are therefore of particular and immediate importance to the descendants. Often, it is the only personal record of a lost childhood or adolescence,” he said.
While World War II and the Nazi regime is over, the wounds – both visible and invisible – are still evident. Returning a single book may seem small given the scope of loss and destruction, but it’s a way to facilitate healing processes.
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