Russia Won't Relinquish Book Treasure

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Claudia Lux, left, director of the Central and Regional Library Berlin, shows a Jewish youth calendar from the year 1931 to Lala Suesskind, chairwoman of Berlin's Jewish Community, on April 13, 2011 at the Centrum Judaicum in Berlin. Berlin's state library handed back 13 books stolen by the Nazis to the Jewish community as the German government pledged to redouble its efforts to return plundered cultural treasures.

During the Bolshevik revolution, 12,000 religious books were seized from Jews, and in World War II 25,000 pages of manuscripts were stolen by Nazi Germany and transferred to the Soviets as war booty. But Russia's State Library and the Russian State Military Archive are refusing to relinquish the treasure, even after a U.S. court ruled that a Brooklyn-based group called Chabad-Lubavitch is the rightful owner. The court administered a $50,000 fine, but the Russian Foreign Ministry harshly criticized the ruling Thursday, calling it "an absolutely unlawful and provocative decision." Since 2010, Russia has stopped loaning its art treasures for exhibit in the U.S., lest they be seized and held hostage.