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Book that turned up at suburban library has ties to Nazi-era Germany

The title page from rare historical book by  notorious Nazi Commander Hermann Gorring which was dropped off spirng LaGrange

The title page from a rare, historical book by notorious Nazi Commander Hermann Gorring, which was dropped off in the spirng at the LaGrange Park Public Library. | Photo courtesy of Tari Marshall

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Updated: August 17, 2012 3:58PM

LaGrange Park Public Library officials are brimming with curiosity over who dropped off a rare book stamped “Secret!” from notorious Nazi Commander Hermann Goring, which is now under study at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a great mystery,” library director Dixie Conkis said. “We had the book in our possession for a while not knowing quite what to do with it, but felt that because it was marked ‘secret’ it was probably a rather important book.”

The book, “1938-1941: Vier Jahre, Hermann Goring-Werke,” likely was left in the library’s book drop. It easily could have been discarded if not for Ursula Stanek, circulation services director, who grew up in Mannheim, Germany. The book sat on her desk for several weeks in the spring until she noted the inside cover was stamped “Geheim!” meaning “Secret!” with letterhead from Goring, the Nazi state secrete police commander.

Stanek made the discovery just before a trip to visit her daughter in Washington. The two happened to tour the Holocaust museum, where she realized the book’s historical significance. Stanek later contacted the museum and learned it had only a reprint of the book from the 1990s, not an original. She delivered the book to the museum in May.

The book details the Nazis’ pride at developing an industrial complex powered by state-owned steel mills in Germany during World War II. Given as a gift to steel workers, the book also had an envelope with a return address for Paul Pleiger, tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in managing Nazi factories.

”It’s nice we were able to find a proper home for such a rare book.” Conkis said. “We received a very nice letter from the Holocaust museum. They were just thrilled to have it.”

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