Canada’s national archive has acquired a rare book it believes could have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge of Jews in North America.
Once part of Adolf Hitler’s personal library, the 1944 volume reports on the Jewish population of various cities as well as key organizations and newspapers serving Canadian and American Jewish communities.
The 137-page German-language book, “Statistics, Media, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada,” was compiled by researcher Heinz Kloss, who did field work in the U.S. in the late 1930s.
The research was carried out for the Nazi regime and hints at what might have happened in North America if the Allies had lost the Second World War, Library and Archives Canada says.
The book lists general population figures, as well as the number of Jews, in dozens of Canadian cities large and small, from Vancouver to Glace Bay, N.S. It also details ethnic backgrounds and the languages people spoke.
“This information would have been the building blocks to rolling out the Final Solution in Canada, allowing perpetrators of the Holocaust to know what cities to go to to find Jewish people and how many Jews to round up,” said Michael Kent, a curator at Library and Archives Canada.
Given the horrors that transpired in Europe, targets would also likely have included any racial minority, gays and lesbians, Indigenous Peoples and others considered problematic in Nazi eyes, Kent told a news conference Wednesday.
Library and Archives hopes the book becomes a tool for fighting Holocaust denial and a means of remembering the slaughter of innocent millions in Europe.
The bookplate features a stylized eagle, swastika and the words Ex Libris Adolf Hitler, indicating it came from the Nazi leader’s collection.
An American soldier likely plucked the volume from Hitler’s library at his alpine retreat near Berchtesgaden, as thousands of books were taken as war souvenirs in 1945, Library and Archives says.
The Canadian institution bought the book for about $6,000 from a reputable dealer who obtained it as part of a collection owned by a Holocaust survivor, Kent said. The dealer, who trades exclusively in Judaica, was keen to see the volume go to a Jewish institution or another appropriate memory institution.
While the book is “certainly a creepy item,” the decision to buy it was a simple one, Kent said. Preserving the memory of the Holocaust was more of a concern than “the possibility that someone might think we’re glorifying Hitler through this acquisition.”
It is important to assemble the most complete historical record possible, no matter how contentious or controversial, said Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada.
“We don’t, and we shouldn’t, choose only those records that portray past events in a positive light,” he said.
Kent said there is no evidence Kloss visited Canada, but he developed strong ties with American Nazi sympathizers and clearly accessed secondary sources in his research. The book includes the 1931 Census of Canada and the 1937 Report of the Immigration Branch among its Canadian references.
The fragile volume, printed on wartime paper, required extensive restoration work before it could be handled and displayed, Kent said.
Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press