On Friday, March 11, 1938, S.S. Chief Heinrich Himmler arrived in Vienna with an advance contingent to arrest the most important adversaries of Hitler and seize their property.82 Two days later, on March 13, after the German army had reached Vienna at the end of a triumphant march through the country, a group of men broke into Mises’s apartment and searched it. At the end of March, the Gestapo came and took twenty-one boxes full of Mises’s possessions and sealed the apartment when they left. In the fall, the Gestapo returned and took the rest. They looted everything they could find—the books Mises had lovingly collected over decades, his personal correspondence, paintings, silver, personal and administrative documents—everything, even the laundry. Mises would never see these belongings again and never learn what happened to them.83 At the end of World War II, the Red Army found his personal files, together with the documents of other prominent enemies of the Nazi regime, in a train in Bohemia. They were then sent to a secret archive in Moscow. In 1991, eighteen years after Mises’s death, they were rediscovered and are today a most precious tool for biographers of the great economist.84
82Joachim Fest, Hitler (Berlin: Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft, 1973), p. 753.
83See Mises, “Information” (March 4, 1939)—a rough list of the items that were in the room he had sublet in the apartment; Hoover Institution:
84Mises’s personal library went in different directions. The Nazis sent his book collection to a new Judenbibliothek in Berlin. This library was under the control of R. Heydrich’s Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and located at Eisenacher Strasse 12. However, it is not known where Mises’s books are today. During World War II, the collections of the Judenbibliothek were sent back and forth to the provinces to protect them against Allied bombings. They were also subject to various transfers, book exchanges with other libraries, and plunder. See Werner Schroeder, “Bestandsaufbau durch Plünderung—Jüdische Bibliotheken im RSHA 1936–1945,” paper presented at an international congress on Raub und Restitution in Bibliotheken (Vienna City Hall, April 23–24, 2003). By 1956, Mises knew that some of his books had “turned up in German second hand bookshops” and opined that some of his letters—two letters he had received from Sigmund Freud, for example—would “be found one day in the possession of an autograph dealer.” Mises to Eissler, letter dated October 11, 1956; Grove City Archive: Sigmund Freud Archives file.
Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism. pp. 726-727.
Review of book, Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism, by J. Richard Duke