Precious books fly away: episode 1/2 of the Mont Sainte-Odile podcast. The Arsene Lupine of old books

In “Journal parle Alsace”, “Theft of incunabula from the Mont Saint-Odile library”, interview with Claude Diss, canon ex-director of the premises (France Bleu Alsace, 05.22.2002)

1 min

It is a majestic promontory, on the eastern slope of the Vosges. From the abbey and its 760 meters above sea level, there is a splendid view of the plain of Alsace and as far as the Black Forest, on the other side of the Rhine. The place is singular, because of the mystical charge it peddles: Sainte-Odile is the patron saint of Alsace, almost the mother of all Alsatians. Moreover, this place, because of its sacred aspect, is organized in the old fashioned way. Shortly before the events, which took place between August 2000 and May 2002, access to the library was by using a key which was vaguely hidden behind a statue. We never imagined that a thief would come to exploit the weaknesses of the security of this sacred place.

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You have to imagine a large heritage library, but which receives very few readers and researchers. We are dealing with a confidential fund, precious but very little consulted.

It is in a sacred place for the Alsatians, frequented by a brotherhood of Adorers, who have taken turns constantly, for ninety years, to pray. The young man who will be found guilty of taking more than a thousand volumes is very pious, but he is caught in a spiral, and can no longer control his desire to visit the library at night.

The thief was perhaps not yet during his first nocturnal stays in this venerable library. The thrill of being there, alone, was probably enough for him. And then he began to consider that the books in the Mont Sainte-Odile library were not kept in the best possible way, that some were starting to rot, and that they would be better off at home, in the suburbs of Strasbourg. , than in their original shelves.

Photo showing some 40 books stolen from the library of Mont St Odile stored at the gendarmerie brigade of Rosheim (Bas-Rhin)
Photo showing some 40 books stolen from the library of Mont St Odile stored at the gendarmerie brigade of Rosheim (Bas-Rhin)

© Maxppp
– BEP/LES DNA – Photographer: Cedric JOUBERT

To talk about it

  • Paul-Antoine Dantès, curator of the Mont Sainte-Odile library
  • Helga Rébert, old bookseller in Strasbourg
  • Sébastien Bender, lawyer
  • Max Geneva, writer
  • Alain Donius, director of Mont Sainte-Odile
  • Monique Heitzler, journalist at Latest News from Alsace

Excerpt from “Magnetic Nights”, “The love of the book” described by Antoine Coron, collector (France Culture, 27.05.1999)

1 min


A documentary by Olivier Chaumelle, directed by Marie-France Nussbaum. Put in the current format, François Teste. Sound recordings, Jean-Pierre Pernel. Coordination, Christine Bernard. Archives Ina, Clary Monaque. New webpage, Sylvia Favre-Steyaert.

For further

Rebroadcast on 23.09.2003.

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