Weimar's gutted Anna Amalia Library restored

18th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

18 October 2007, Weimar, Germany (dpa) - Workers put finishing touches Thursday to the restored Anna Amalia Library, which was gutted by fire in September 2004 in the German city of Weimar. That blaze, which revived Germany's trauma over the loss of so many archives and libraries to bombs during the Second World War, turned 37 paintings and 50,000 of the 140,000 centuries-old books into cinders. Weimar, where Germany declared itself a republic in 1919, is a main cultural centre, a UNESCO world-heritage sit

18 October 2007

Weimar, Germany (dpa) - Workers put finishing touches Thursday to the restored Anna Amalia Library, which was gutted by fire in September 2004 in the German city of Weimar.

That blaze, which revived Germany's trauma over the loss of so many archives and libraries to bombs during the Second World War, turned 37 paintings and 50,000 of the 140,000 centuries-old books into cinders.

Weimar, where Germany declared itself a republic in 1919, is a main cultural centre, a UNESCO world-heritage site and the former home of composer Johann Sebastian Bach and German national poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Some 22,000 German firms and people donated funds to repair the Anna Amalia, where Goethe was once librarian, or to pay for repairs to books or buy replacements.

Library staff estimate that replacement copies for two-thirds of the lost books can be bought from other collections or in auctions, while one third of the centuries-old literary collection is gone forever.

"It was the worst library fire in Germany since the War," said Jens Goebel, culture minister of the state of Thuringia, as reporters were shown the restored library Thursday at the start of a week to celebrations.

The fire is believed to have been caused by a hot electrical wire. Another 62,000 books were damaged by the heat or the water used to put out the fire and it will take till 2015 to repair them all.

The restored reading room is a lofty, three-storeyed gilded gallery with busts of poets, paintings and bookcases set against white walls.

"It has always been more than just a library," said Hellmut Seemann, head of the foundation managing the library, saying visitors regarded it as a shrine to German classicism.

It will be reopened on Wednesday, the anniversary of the October 24, 1739 birth of Duchess Anna Amalia. She founded the library, which has several modern annexes that were not affected by the fire.

A key improvement during the repairs was the installation of a water-mist sprinkler system.

DPA

Subject: German news

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