Hebrew 'Kristallnacht' bible returns to Vienna

By Jessica Elgot, November 11, 2009
Daniel Kestanbaum

Daniel Kestanbaum

A $30,000 Hebrew bible which was stolen from a library in Vienna during Kristallnacht has been returned to Austria.

It was due to be auctioned by the New York-based Kestenbaum & Company, which is owned by former Londoner Daniel Kestanbaum.

The black, leather-bound bible, which was printed in 1516 in Venice, vanished 71 years ago.
It had been donated to the library of the Jewish community of Vienna in 1908, before being looted by the Nazis on November 9, 1938.

But the book was seized before it could be auctioned in New York after it aroused the suspicion of the US authorities that it had been illegally imported into America.

It had been expected to fetch £30,000 at auction, but will now be returned to the Viennese Jewish community.

The Bible includes commentaries by medieval rabbis from the 11th to the 14th century, and a summary in Aramaic.

Jackie Insel, a manager at Kestenbaum & Co, said the present owner of the book, who is Swiss, understood there was a moral duty to return it, despite the financial loss.

Last updated: 3:42pm, November 11 2009