As well as the usual academic and literary works acquired from Germany during the National Socialist period, the Library has a large number of more general and popular items from this period acquired after the Second World War via the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF).
About the collection
At the end of the War the Allied forces in Europe made a point of confiscating German books published since 1933 from countries that had been under German occupation and collecting them at the SHAEF offices in Paris. Some thousands of these books now form part of the British Library’s collections in both London and Boston Spa.
These are not academic publications, but books for practical everyday use or aimed at the general reader, the majority with a more or less overt Nazi ideological slant. The collection forms an almost unparalleled collection of primary source material for the study of this era. The materials may be divided into various categories or subjects:
- Popular works on history, geography and international relations
- Contemporary history, e.g. German successes in World War II, biographies of leading National Socialists
- Politics, economics, agriculture
- Racial theories
- Military science; material for for soldiers in occupied countries; guides to military careers; military regulations; pay-scales
- Popular literature
- School textbooks
- Children’s books, including fiction and handbooks for members of the Nazi youth movements
- Laws and regulations
- Books of practical advice, e.g. on air-raid precautions, vocational training, guides for soldiers planning to return to civilian life.
What is available online?
Material in the above categories is not kept together in one place, but all the books are entered in the online catalogue, Explore the British Library.
A longer description of the collection and its origins can be found in A.D. Harvey, 'Confiscated Nazi Books in the British Library', Electronic British Library Journal (2003)
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
Most of the SHAEF material can be ordered to any of the St Pancras Reading Rooms.
What is available in other organisations?
The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide also has excellent holdings of propaganda material from the Nazi Period, including a collection of over 400 children’s books.