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First World War Collection


2014 was the centenary of the start of the First World War. This represented an opportunity to appraise the historical and sociocultural aspects of this war at different social levels.

The Leipzig site of the German National Library holds numerous documents relating to the First World War. These were compiled as part of a world war collection which was launched in September 1914 by the former Deutsche Bücherei (at roughly the same time as various other libraries of the Deutsches Reich). The first appeal to the public to submit materials was published in the "Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel" in October 1914. By the end of the War the collection of war-related printed matter had grown rapidly with the help of military and civil authorities, associations, student fraternities and a large number of private submissions.
In 1921 the collection comprised roughly 35,000 books and brochures, 1,300 war and propaganda maps, 60 official, law and ordinance gazettes, 600 war newspapers and "Heimatgruß" circulars, 150 propaganda air drops, 2,000 single-sheet prints and 15,000 posters. Photos, postcards, emergency funds and food stamps were submitted to other institutions.
The other media publications were incorporated in the regular library holdings. Until the start of the project, the content was only catalogued in a special card index catalogue.
The aim of the project was to bring together the surviving printed matter from the First World War and to create a virtual collection. Subject-based searches in the portal catalogue have been facilitated or improved.

The entire collection’s catalogue has been made accessible online:

It is possible to browse using the collection’s original classification:

Special forms of publications such as single-sheet prints or handbills may be searched for separately:

New subject headings have improved the catalogue retrieval, and sample digitised versions grant direct access to the content of titles dating from 1914 to 1918: further information

In 2014 an exhibition entitled "Kindheit und Jugend im Ersten Weltkrieg" served as a showcase for the collection. The online exhibition "100 Jahre Erster Weltkrieg" also gave an impression of the scope of its content and formats:

Project duration

1 December 2012 to 31 May 2015

Further information

Den Krieg sammeln. Die Weltkriegssammlung 1914/18 der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek. Written by Johannes Jacobi, commissioned by the German National Library. The German National Library (Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main) 2014 urn:nbn:de:101-2014033106 (available only in German)

Jahns, Yvonne: Die Leipziger Sondersammlung zum Ersten Weltkrieg. In: Dialog mit Bibliotheken 2014/1, S. 56 urn:nbn:de:101-20140923109 (available only in German)

Tobegen, Michael: Ein Trommelfeuer von bedrucktem Papier. Fliegerabwürfe in der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek. In: Hiller von Gaertringen (Hrsg.): Kriegssammlungen 1914 - 1918. ZfBB-Sonderband 114, Klostermann, Frankfurt/M. 2014 (available only in German)

Tobegen, Michael: Zwischen Utopie und Wirklichkeit: Jugend im Ersten Weltkrieg. Eine Ausstellung der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek. In: Museumskunde 2014/1, S. 65 (available only in German)

Tobegen, Michael: Kindheit und Jugend im Ersten Weltkrieg. In: Dialog mit Bibliotheken 2015/1, S. 59 (available only in German)

Last update: 03.07.2015

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