institut d’études médiévales
An den Ministerpräsidenten
des Bundeslandes Baden-Württemberg
Concerne: Dispersal of the Karlsruhe library
Dear Mr. Oettinger,
We are participants in a workshop for postgraduates specialised in medieval studies, arranged by the Medieval Institute in Fribourg (2.- 6.10.2006), students and professors from Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, England, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania and the United States. We have followed the events of the last weeks relating to the fate of the manuscript collections in Karlsruhe with dismay, -with dismay that it is possible in the year 2006 for the government of a modern state even to envisage the breaking up of a historical collection of books and documents which, as an ensemble, provides a major source for our understanding of German and European history.
Our information is that if these books were dispersed by auction at least 20% and perhaps as many as 40 % would no longer be available to scholarship. The dispersal of the Karlsruhe library would represent a major loss for the history of a region which lost many of its historical sources when the German troops bombed the Strassburg library during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870. The Karlsruhe manuscripts are a source of incomparable value as individual items, in their cross-relations with one another, and as a historical entity with symbolic value for the identity of the region, as well as their value to scholarship. We know of no comparable act of cultural depredation in a western country in modern times and fear for the precedant such an act would set to countries with less stable democratic traditions.
Prof. Hugo O. Bizzarri (Fribourg), Prof. Sten Ebbesen (Copenhagen), Prof. Christoph Flüeler (Fribourg), Prof. Franco Morenzoni (Geneva), Prof. Nigel Palmer (Oxford), Prof. Carlos Steel (Louvain), Prof. Loris Sturlese (Lecce), Prof. Tiziana Suarez-Nani (Fribourg), Dr. Kristi Viiding (Tartu), Emmanuel Babey (Neuchâtel), Arthur Bissegger (Lausanne), Indrė Brokartaitė-Pladienė (Riga), Heidi Eisenhut (Zürich), Richard F. Fasching (Fribourg), Christa Haeseli (Zürich), Amy Suzanne Heneveld (Geneva), Stefan Häussler (Basel), Stefan Kwasnitza (Zürich), Claire Muller (Zürich), Janika Päll (Tartu), Martin Rohde (Fribourg), Damien Travelletti (Fribourg), Barbara Wahlen (Geneva).