Library and Archives Canada may have purchased a book written by a Nazi sympathizer without verifying that it was authentic.
The book was written by North American-based Nazi sympathizer, Heinz Kloss. The book catalogued the Jewish populations of major North American cities and is seen by many in the Jewish community as proof of what the Nazis had planned, had they won World War 2.
Rebecca Margolis, president of the Association for Canadian Jewish Studies, told the BBC:
“This invaluable report offers a documented confirmation of the fears felt so acutely and expressed by so many Canadian Jews during the Second World War: that the Nazis would land on our shores and with them, the annihilation of Jewish life here.”
The controversial $6,000 purchase of the book was the first acquisition made by the Archives using public donations from an online portal, with the shortfall of $1,000, coming from the Archives acquisition budget. However, according to Blacklocks’s Reporter:
“Records show the agency paid US$4,522 for the volume earlier listed for as little as US$3,000 in 2011 by a New York auction house, Kestenbaum & Company. Kestenbaum abruptly canceled the sale. No reason was given, and the company yesterday had no comment.”
That listing of the book that was so abruptly canceled in 2011 should have sent up alarm bells for the archivists about the authenticity of the book — and maybe it did. However, internal emails show the concerns of archivists about authenticity of the book fell on deaf ears.
Archivists in staff emails questioned the purchase. “Regardless of the provenance, is the research value of the volume equal to the sticker price?” wrote Mary McIntyre, assistant manager of special collections. “That is, is it significant enough to make a solid contribution to the collection?”
Michael Kent, a senior librarian who handled the purchase, called it “a little light for me to justify as Canadian by our standards”. Kent wrote in an Acquisition Report that staff were convinced the book was owned by the [Nazi Leader] but added: “This report contains slightly less than the required threshold to be considered Canadiana.”
Auction houses in Europe selling fake Hitler paintings as real to collectors. German magazine, Stern, was famously duped by a fake diary, purported to have been written by the Nazi leader.
Authentication of the book should have been a requirement before purchase as part of good stewardship of other people’s money.