Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ludwig von Mises' Books Lost to the Flames in Moscow Library Fire

Richard Ebeling emails:
Dear Bob,

One of the largest and most unique libraries in the world in Moscow, the library of the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences (“INION”) containing more than 14 million books, has gone up in flames.

Containing rare and indeed unique volumes on almost every subject in the social and human sciences in multitudes of language, this is a loss considered by many scholars as a catastrophe. The collections contained books dating back hundreds of years, many one can only assume, because of their rarity, will now be lost forever. (Some Russians are comparing it to the destruction of the library in Alexandria in ancient Egypt.)

For those interested in Austrian Economics, among the destroyed volumes were some of the books owned by Ludwig von Mises. When my wife, Anna, and I were in Moscow in the autumn of 1996 recovering photocopies of Ludwig von Mises’ “lost papers” from a formerly secret KGB archive, we realized that the collection of books that the Nazis had plundered from Mises’ Vienna apartment in 1938 and captured by the Soviet Army in 1945, had also been brought to Moscow after the war and absorbed into the general collection of the INION library.

We had looked through volumes that we had indications were part of Mises’ looted personal library and, indeed, his usual marginal markings were on the pages and his name was written in them as his property. So a part of Mises’ personal library has been lost in this terrible fire in Moscow, as well.
The fire engulfed 2,000 square meters of library space, with the fire seeming to break out in several places at the same time. Some Russian commentators have already suggested arson. Why? Because this is the type of prime real estate in Moscow that the crony capitalists that surround Putin are always trying to get their hands on, one way of another.

This is an historical and intellectual loss to all mankind. And possibly the result of intentional destruction.



NBC News reports:

 Firefighters in the Russia's capital battled a large fire, in the library of the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences, throughout the night. Russian media reported the fire consumed 21,500 square feet and required 147 workers at the scene.


1 comment:

  1. burn mises' work and get some prime government-gifted real estate at the same time. yep, arson.