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Archives and Libraries Destroyed by Floods in Europe
As flooding spread further through Germany, first assessments of damages caused to libraries and archives in the region are being made. Whereas the floods are reported to have extensively damaged archives and library collections in the Czech Republic, reports from libraries and archives in the German cities of Dresden, Dessau and Wittenberg are less alarming.

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Archives and Libraries Destroyed by Floods in Europe

20-08-2002 (Paris)
As flooding spread further through Germany, first assessments of damages caused to libraries and archives in the region are being made. Whereas the floods are reported to have extensively damaged archives and library collections in the Czech Republic, reports from libraries and archives in the German cities of Dresden, Dessau and Wittenberg are less alarming.
Ms Parakovar, Director of the Library of the Charles University in Prague, told UNESCO that the extend of damages at the University library have not yet been fully assessed. Whereas the collections held at the main library seem to be safe, one third of collection of the law library has been destroyed, said Ms Parakovar

According to other reports, the floods have caused extensive damage to the archives in Prague, notably to the Military Historical Archive, the Academy of Science, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Czech Statistics Office. National Central Archive official Miroslav Kun told the Czech News Agency CTK that "thousands of shelves with unique and irreplaceable documents" are likely to have been destroyed.

In Dresden, one of the special collections of the Sächsische Landesbibliothek/Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek has been damaged. Thomas Bürger, of the State Library told UNESCO that ca 10,000 volumes of this collection including rare books are presently being preserved through freeze-drying. Bürger also reported that manuscripts of the Semper Opera have been heavily damaged and that restoration works has been started. Bürger said that the new building of the Landesbibliothek was safe and that the library functioned normally.

According the Guntram Martin, Director of Dresden's State Archives, all holdings of the archives are safe and damages on the buildings are presently being assessed.

Libraries in Dessau and Wittenberg also report no damages to their holdings.

UNESCO has at present no reports on the situation of libraries and archives in flooded regions in Austria.

Last Friday, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura called on the international community to mobilize in the rehabilitation of cultural heritage damaged by floods in several European countries.

Mr Matsuura declared: “I am appalled by the tragedy currently affecting much of Europe, particularly by the heavy loss of human lives and great human suffering incurred. Damages to infrastructure are also a cause of concern, particularly in the region’s weaker economies. In keeping with UNESCO’s mandate to preserve cultural heritage, I pledge that we will do all within our power to help preserve the region’s damaged treasures, which are vital to the memory of humanity and to the identity of the numerous communities rooted in the region."

“While it is too early to take stock of the extent of the damage,” the Director-General said, “it is clear that much effort will be required to safeguard and repair damage caused to important heritage, including the German city of Dresden with its countless Baroque treasures.”

“I hope that these tragic events will provide an opportunity to increase international solidarity and conservation partnerships, that are more needed than ever,” Mr Matsuura declared.

The Director-General has written to Vaclav Havel, the President of the Czech Republic, supporting his appeal for international assistance to help his country and has offered UNESCO’s assistance in the extensive conservation efforts that will be required when the waters subside

Related themes/countries

  • This item can be found in the following topics:
          · Memory of the World: News archives 2002
          · Libraries: News Archives 2002
          · Austria: News Archives
          · Czech Republic: News Archive
          · Germany: News Archive 2002
          · Hungary: News Archive 2002


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