During the night of 31 January 2015, a large fire in Moscow destroyed large parts of the library of the Russian Academy of Sciences. According to preliminary reports, over 1.5 million of the library’s historical documents, some of which date back to the 16th century, were heavily damaged.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier offered his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov the help of the German Government to preserve the holdings and restore the damaged documents. German experts could, for example, offer on‑site advice and some of the holdings could be treated in special conservation workshops in Germany. In addition to this, Russian restoration workers could come to Germany for an expert‑level exchange of knowledge.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement today (10 February):
I was utterly dismayed to hear the news and see the images of the large fire which ravaged the library of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.
Even in politically difficult times, we must not break off the cultural links between Germany and Russia. Libraries embody the memories of a nation.
The fire in the large and historic library of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow is a tragedy. A great deal has been lost forever. We want to help wherever we can help with the salvage efforts.
With its over 14 million books, the library of the Russian Academy of Sciences is one of the most important in Russia and Europe. The German Historical Institute is also located in the building of the Academy.
Due to the disasters in the Duchess Anna Amalia Library (2004) and the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne (2009), Germany has developed extensive expertise in restoring historical documents which have been damaged by fire or damp.
The German Government supports the preservation of cultural heritage around the world through the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, an effective instrument of cultural relations and education policy. The objective is to strengthen people’s sense of their own national identity in partner countries and to foster a cultural dialogue in a spirit of partnership.