Rare Books Returned to Poland
Jun. 12, 2002
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WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Germany has returned 18 rare books stolen from Poland's most prestigious library, including a 15th-century issue valued at over half a million dollars.
The works are among 94 books discovered missing in April 1999 from the 600-year-old Jagiellonian Library in Krakow. The scandal shocked Poland and undermined the library's reputation.
The 18 books will undergo forensic examination to discover who took them, library officials said Wednesday. The books brought home from Germany had surfaced at an auction house in Koenigstein, near Frankfurt. A German court ordered them returned after the library sued the auctioneer.
Library director Krzysztof Zamorski brought the books back to Krakow on Tuesday under heavy police guard.
``At long last, after so much effort, the books have returned. It's a great joy,'' said Zdzislaw Pietrzyk, the library's deputy director.
Among the books is a 15th-century issue of ``Cosmographia'' by the ancient Greek astronomer Ptolemy, valued at about $570,000.
In 2000, another missing book was returned from London, where it surfaced at an auction house. The fate of the remaining books is unknown.
The library has spent $500,000 on an electronic security system since the thefts were discovered from the Jagiellonian's renowned medieval collection.
The most precious books will be kept in a safe and will be available only on microfilm or in electronic versions, Pietrzyk said.