chapter  8
16 Pages

Displaced Archives in the Wake of Wars

ByLeopold Auer

Archives, being mobile property, are very liable to all sorts of displacements, the causes of which may range from administrative reforms to the effects of war. The issue of displaced archives in the wake of wars has a long history. Notable examples comprise looted archives from practically all over the world. Napoleon's project to create a huge centralised European archive in Paris, to foster historical research, resulted in a gigantic archival plunder that probably inspired similar activities during the Second World War. With regard to private archives, The Hague Convention reflects a strict respect for private property and demands that the property of municipalities and of institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, the arts and sciences, even when state property, be treated as private property. Restitution started, quite naturally, with the records captured by the armies and authorities of the Third Reich. Throughout history, the capture and restitution of archives has had political motivations.