LAGRANGE PARK, Ill. (STMW) — West suburban LaGrange Park Public Library officials are brimming with curiosity on who dropped off a rare book stamped “Secret!” from notorious Nazi Commander Hermann Göring, which is now under study at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
“It’s a great mystery,” said library director Dixie Conkis. “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 Göring-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 Göring, the Nazi state secret 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 volume found in LaGrange Park to the museum in May.
The book details the pride of Nazis in 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.”
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)