A Ukrainian almanac for 75 years ago : the January 2023 UL Slavonic item of the month

The book’s cover

As the first month of the new year draws to a close, it felt appropriate to look at Ukrainian kalendar’ al’manakh for 1948, 75 years ago.

On its title page, it describes 1948 as a jubilee year, and refers back to the three years of 1648, 1848, and 1918.  1648 saw the start of the Cossack uprising against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which would eventually lead to the creation of the Cossack Hetmanate state.  Two centuries later, Galician Ukraine was in the Austrian Empire, and 1848 saw the creation of the Holovna Rus’ka Rada (Supreme Ruthenian Council) in L’viv, which determined the blue-yellow flag Ukraine uses to this day and oversaw the publication of the first Ukrainian-language newspaper, Zoria Halytska (Galician Star, or Galician Dawn).  1918 saw immense changes in Ukraine, starting with the 22 January declaration of the independent state of Ukraine. Continue reading

German Reformation material 

Recently I was happy to catalogue a rather special volume (5000.c.81) containing German Reformation pamphlets.


We received this volume as a generous donation from the library of the late Donald William Nicolson. Mr Nicolson was a classics teacher with a keen interest in languages which is reflected in his library. He also trained in bookbinding, and we might assume that he was planning to repair this volume as its front board is detached.

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Some ebooks relating to colonialism and Black experience in Germany 

Following on from last week’s post on Dutch material, this post will present some material on Germany’s colonial history and race relations.

While Germany’s colonial period was relatively brief the legacy was nevertheless devastating. Reassessment of Germany’ colonial history has been a focus of research in Germany during the last 20 years. 

As currently only relatively few German titles are available as ebooks to students and staff in Cambridge, English titles containing contributions from German scholars and translations of German titles are included in this list. Continue reading

Helmut Schmidt, 1918-2015

The eminent politician and statesman Helmut Schmidt died on November 10 at the age of 96 and a state funeral took place in Hamburg on November 23. Many obituaries and tributes have been written outlining his career and achievements. The high point of his career was undoubtedly his years as chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982. But when he lost the chancellorship to Helmut Kohl and left parliament he continued to be in the public eye as he became an editor of the weekly Die Zeit in which he regularly wrote columns. He offered his advice and analysis in interviews, appeared on radio and television, gave speeches and much more. All this activity resulted in numerous publications many of which are held by the University Library. Our catalogue lists over 40 entries for Helmut Schmidt as author, editor or contributor.Helmut Schmidt 001edsmall

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Burning books

2013 marks the 80th anniversary of the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists in Germany. One of the most famous events of that year took place on May 10th 1933 with the public book burning of over 25,000 “un-German” books on Opernplatz in Berlin (now renamed Bebelplatz).

At the beginning of April 1933, the German Student Association proclaimed a nationwide “action against the un-German spirit” throughout German universities. The aim was to remove undesirable professors from their posts, to blacklist “un-German” books and to purify libraries according to National Socialist principles.

A memorial to the Nazi book burning, Berlin 2006

A memorial to the Nazi book burning, Berlin 2006

The campaign reached its climax on the night of May 10th 1933 when students in over 20 university towns across Germany marched in torchlight parades to public book burnings. Students threw books onto bonfires, accompanied by marching bands, songs, incantations, fire oaths, speeches and ritualised ceremonies. The highlight of the evening was the public burning of over 25,000 “un-German” books on Opernplatz in Berlin, which was carried out by students, professors in academic robes and members of the SA, SS and Hitler Youth paramilitary organisations. The event was accompanied by music from SA and SS bands, broadcast live on German radio and filmed by the weekly newsreel “Wochenschau”. At midnight, the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, addressed a crowd of over 50,000 people  and condemned works written by Jews, liberals, leftists, pacifists, foreigners and others as “un-German”. Continue reading