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Rebecca LR Garber

Apologies for cross-posting:

Included below are a translation of an article from NZZ-Online in
Zürich, and an open letter that the German academics are sending to the
government and news media on Friday. The article includes information
about which mss are to go on the block, and why. The PM of Baden has
excused this action today by claiming that the uproar has only been in
the cultural pages of the media, but not in the financial sections
(which apparently proves that it makes good financial sense).

All translations are mine: I accept responsibility for any
discrepancies from the German that the English may convey.

Rebecca LR Garber, PhD
Freelance Translator

NZZ-Online (Neue Züricher Zeitung)

Philistines in Baden
End-of-Season Manuscript Sale in Karlsruhe

Evil news is heard from Baden-Württemberg. A bad case of governmental
philistinism afflicts the state at present. To the horror of
librarians, historians, patriots and citizens, the MP and the
hereditary arch duke of Baden have agreed to hock the unique collection
of manuscripts held in the State Library of Baden in Karlsruhe. To be
disposed of are all works acquired prior to 1872. At that time, the
archducal library was placed under the control of the Baden
Innenministerium (Department of State, internal affairs). This
protects volumes bought later from the princely claims of possession,
but not, however, works of art such as the prachtmanuscripts: an
illuminated book of hours of Archduke Christoph I of Baden (1490), the
Gospel of St. Peter (ca. 1200) or the medieval lectionaries from the
scriptorium of the monastery at Reichenau. They are threatened with
being scattered to all corners of the globe.

70 million euros, that is the requirement, has to be brought in by this
sale. A sum that can only be achieved by a rigorous plundering of the
3500 volumes of the entire manuscript collection. From the anticipated
proceeds, the preservation of the castle Salem, the last castle
remaining in the possession of the financially irresolute house of
Baden, will be ensured. The archduke will receive approximately 30
million as compensation for the expenditures (on the castle) in
previous years, the remainder is held in a trust to ensure
(maintenance) of the castle. In return, the heirs of the last Archduke
of Baden, who was forced to abdicate in 1918, will abjure “for all
time” from demanding the return of former archducal collections from
the state. MP Öttinger justifies the agreement by reference to the
legal battle, in which the state and the archducal family have been
entangled for some time.

According to the representation of those responsible, this business
deals with a responsible appreciation of the values of the goods: on
the one hand, the old manuscripts, which, as has been sufficiently
proven, are only accessible to a few experts; on the other hand, the
castle Salem, a wonderful building complex with its own gothic Minster.
Why do we call the whole thing Philistinism? Because one simply does
not sell manuscripts of this value and history. It is also the
construction of Philistines, to finance the maintenance of castle Salem
solely from the interest from the trust. The influx of capital
required for that demands, above all else, the initially ruinous
manuscript sale. But the government in Baden-Württemberg is concealing

Joachim Günter


Open Letter

Honorable Ministerpräsident,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

with disbelief and horror we have learned, that the state government
intends to completely divest itself of the medieval manuscripts held in
the State Library of Baden in Karlsruhe. In a barbarous act beyond
compare, a central portion of the cultural inheritance of the state
will be stolen.

The majority of manuscripts in question come from the libraries of
monasteries in the Black Forest, the Upper-Rhine, and Lake Constance.
They document a unique path of spiritual life in this region, and how
it developed. With few exceptions, these manuscripts arrived in the
care of the state 200 years ago during the secularization, which
expropriated the monastic libraries. Since that time, they have been
conserved and made available to the public under considerable
application of technology and public means. This sale will scatter
them to all ends of the globe. The increasing connections made between
items in the collection will be torn asunder and many of the
manuscripts will be accessible only with great difficulty, or not at
all. This will be a second expropriation.

As scholars, who are engaged in researching and analyzing medieval
manuscripts, we appeal to you as the responsible parties in government
and parliament: Do not inflict upon the State, whose citizens selected
you as their representatives, irrecoverable damages! Distance
yourselves from these disastrous plans!

If you would like to sign the Open letter, send an email to
subject: Open Letter
please include your full name, title, institutional affiliation
Email addresses will not be disclosed. Dr. Klaus Klein will add all
names to the open letter, to be sent to the governement and news media
on Friday.

The petition list is closed. More than 2500 scholars and members of the public have signed AGB

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