TORONTO — A rare Nazi book about the Jewish population in North America and once in Adolf Hitler's personal collection has been acquired by Canada's national library, capturing the world's attention.
German linguist and researcher Heinz Kloss compiled the 137-page report, published in 1944, that contains what was once considered confidential data on Jewish populations and organizations in Canada and the United States for Nazi officials, said Michael Kent, a curator at Library and Archives Canada, which made the purchase.
Titled Statistics, Media, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada, the book details statistics about Jewish populations, such as what cities they lived in, what languages they spoke, and their ethnic backgrounds. If the Nazis had won the Second World War, the book indicates they would've brought the Holocaust to North America, Kent said.
"This item touches a chord with people with the fact the Nazis would have chosen to implement a "Final Solution" in Canada and the U.S., and reminds us conflicts and human tragedies are not as far away as they seem," Kent told HuffPost Canada.
Kent said he's spoken to more than 20 journalists from across North America, as well as in Germany, Israel and Japan since the library announced it now had possession of the book on Wednesday in time for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day this weekend.
The book, purchased last June for about $6,000, will be a valuable tool to combat Holocaust denial and help educate North Americans about the events that lead to the murder of six million Jews in Europe between 1941 and 1945, he said.
With a bookplate bearing a stylized eagle, swastika, and the words "Ex libris Adolf Hitler," it likely came from Hitler's alpine retreat in Germany, which was captured by allied forces near the end of the war, and brought back to the U.S. as a souvenir, Kent said. Eventually it ended up in a Holocaust survivor's collection, then obtained by a reputable dealer, and finally sold to the Canadian library in June, which had it restored.
The book is a much needed education tool to combat a rise in misinformation and hate across North America, said Bernie Farber, chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
"Hate crimes seem to be peaking right now in a way we haven't seen in two or three generations. In Canada especially we see young people have very little knowledge of genocide and holocaust and what led to it," Farber said.
National library curator describes how it acquired "creepy" book. Story continues below
A new survey found 22 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 haven't heard of the Holocaust, 56 per cent couldn't name one concentration camp or ghetto, and 62 per cent didn't know six million Jews were killed. The survey was commissioned by the Azreli Foundation, which supports Holocaust education, and the Claims Conference, which negotiates restitution for Holocaust victims and their heirs. It interviewed 1,100 Canadians.
These results were similar to those found in an American survey from last year.
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Canada is also facing an increase in reported hate crimes — in 2017, there were 2,073, 600 more than in 2016, according to a Statistics Canada report. Reported hate crimes against Muslims rose a staggering 151 per cent, against Jews, 60 per cent, and against the black population, 50 per cent.
"The very fact the archive actively acquired the book says there's a thirst and hunger to educate young people about hatred," Farber said. "People want to know what makes evil happen."
The author of the book was a German Linguist who visited the U.S. in the mid-1930s, and had contacts among American Nazi sympathizers, according to the library.
Hitler collected books and owned anywhere between 6,000 and 16,000. Other libraries with books once owned by Hitler include the Library of Congress and Brown University Library. This book will be kept in the Jacob M. Lowy Collection in Ottawa alongside other items that help us remember the Holocaust.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story referred to the Jacob M. Lowery Collection; in fact, it is the Jacob M. Lowy Collection.