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Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc. (JCR)


JEWISH CULTURAL RECONSTRUCTION, INC. (jcr ), organization established in 1947 to deal with the collection and redistribution of heirless Jewish cultural property in the American Zone of Germany, centered in Offenbach and later in Wiesbaden. Its headquarters were in New York and its logistical and financial support came from the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (jrso). Its leadership was comprised of some of the foremost Jewish intellectuals of the day: Salo *Baron was its executive director; Joshua *Starr and later Hannah *Arendt served as executive secretaries. Gershom *Scholem, Shlomo Shunami, Bernard Heller, Mordechai *Narkiss, and E.G. Lowenthal were among those working in conjunction with jcr in Europe. Under the American Restitution Law (no. 59), jcr functioned as a trustee for those Jewish cultural items whose owners or heirs could not be located. By the end of its operations in 1951–52, jcr had redistributed hundreds of thousands of books and thousands of Torah scrolls and other ritual objects to major libraries and museums, including the Library of Congress and Bezalel in Jerusalem, as well as to institutions of higher learning such as the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. A total of 85% of the cultural property was sent to Israel and the United States; 8% was allocated to Western European countries (with half going to Britain) and the remaining 7% was distributed to South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Canada, and West Germany. Although it had no international standing, the organization encouraged the establishment of similar bodies in the British and French Zones of Occupation.


B. Heller, "Operation Salvage," in: The Jewish Horizon, 6 (Feb. 1950), 12–14; M.Kurtz, "Resolving a Dilemma: The Inheritance of Jewish Property," in: Cardozo Law Review, 20, no. 2 (1998–99), 625–55; Scopus, 13, no. 2 (1959), 5f.; R. Waite, "The Return of Jewish Cultural Property: Handling of Books Looted by the Nazis in the American Zone of Occupation," in: Libraries and Culture (July 2002), 213–28.

[Dana Herman (2nd ed.)]

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