The University of London at war: Nazi black book et al. on display

The Nazi black book at Senate House Library is a photostatic reproduction of American

Ministry of Information pamphlets

Ministry of Information pamphlets

army microfilm. It is a wartime German list of 3,000 wanted people in Great Britain – Winston Churchill, Noel Coward, Lord Baden-Powell and others whom the German National Socialists intended to arrest when it had conquered Great Britain. Also listed are lists of major British firms, with brief details of their organisational structure and major officers, German firms partly or wholly in British hands, and towns, with their well-known institutions and firms that might be of use to occupiers. This chilling document, given to Senate House Library by the Ministry of Information after the war, was one of several displayed yesterday to accompany a talk given by Dr Karen Attar about the University of London Library during the Second World War, as Senate House Library’s third “Insight” session. Participants leafed through the book with interest after the talk, looking for and finding Vera Brittain among others.

The display also included two bomb-damaged books, their covers shattered and parts of their pages shredded, the oldest book acquired during the war, a 1482 edition of Thomas Aquinas’s Catena Aurea with a beautiful penwork initial, and the most unusual book purchased during the war, a Hebrew translation from 1924 of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. From the University Archive came the diary kept from 1939 to 1943 to record regular activity in the Library (UoL/UL/3/3). The Ministry of Information, which was housed in Senate House during the war and used the Library extensively, gave the Library its publications, and some of its pamphlets on aspects of daily life and on the forces were exhibited.

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