Fire at Weimar library causedby faulty electrical unit

7th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

7 September 2004 , WEIMAR - Dilapidated electrical equipment has been pinpointed as the cause of the fire at the famed Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar which destroyed 30,000 irreplaceable books, a newspaper reported Tuesday. The Thueringer Allgemeine newspaper said police and crime investigators had come up with the preliminary conclusion which pinpointed the source of the fire to old electrical equipment dating back to the communist era, located beneath the roof. The paper said the conclusion had al

7 September 2004

WEIMAR - Dilapidated electrical equipment has been pinpointed as the cause of the fire at the famed Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar which destroyed 30,000 irreplaceable books, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

The Thueringer Allgemeine newspaper said police and crime investigators had come up with the preliminary conclusion which pinpointed the source of the fire to old electrical equipment dating back to the communist era, located beneath the roof.

The paper said the conclusion had also been confirmed by federal crime office (BKA) officials who were called in to investigate the cause of the fire.

A police spokesman declined to confirm or deny the newspaper report. A press conference was scheduled for later Tuesday at which time the investigators were to discuss their findings.

The overnight fire last Friday consumed not only the 30,000 books dating back to the Renaissance, but also scores of Rococo paintings.

Another 40,000 priceless volumes were so badly damaged as to be irreparable, officials said. Clean-up crews have yet to reach another 40,000 books to determine their condition.

The fire hit just five weeks before the books were to have to been moved to a secure, underground storage room currently under construction. The Weimar Classic Foundation which manages the library said none of the one million books on the site had been insured.

Its head, Hellmut Seemann, said 50,000 books, including a unique bible collection from the gutted section of the palace, had survived, but many of those books were charred or soaked.

They would be immediately deep frozen, the first step in a process that dries them without the pages wrinkling or glue dissolving.

The Dowager Duchess Anna Amalia and her son, Duke Carl August, put Weimar on Europe's cultural map in the late 18th century. Seeking a tutor for her son, the duchess hired Christoph Martin Wieland, a poet and translator of Shakespeare's works.

Anna Amalia also created her library in a 16th century rococo- style palace, with Wieland's Shakespeare volumes comprising the core of the collection.

It later fell under the supervision of German author and playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and the collection includes the world's largest "Faust" collection. The building is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

DPA

Subject: German news 

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