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Book gifted by Macron to Pope was never Nazi plunder, authorities say

Paris, France

A rare book gifted by French President Emmanuel Macron to Pope Francis was never plundered by the Nazis, its seller and authorities in Warsaw said on Wednesday, after Polish media speculated that it might have been stolen during World War II. 

Macron gave the Pope the first-edition 1796 French translation of German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s Towards Perpetual Peace on Monday during a visit to Rome.

Vatican Emmanuel Macron and Pope Francis2

Pope Francis meets French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron (not pictured) following a private audience at the Vatican, on 24th October. PICTURE: Vatican Media/Handout via Reuters

Its title page shows a stamp from a university library in the former Polish city of Lviv, now in Ukraine, which led to online speculation – reported by several Polish broadcasters and newspapers – that it might have been stolen by German invaders during World War II.

Paris dealer Patrick Hatchuel, who sold the book to the Elysee palace for just €2,500, said it also had a label from one of his predecessors, Lucien Bodin, who was active in the city between around 1880-1910. 

“There is no doubt that this book was already in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. There can be no question of plunder,” Hatchuel told Reuters, adding that he had bought it from the son of a private collector who had owned it for half a century.

Polish Culture Minister Piotr Glinski concurred. 

The book “is not a Polish war loss. Contrary to the claims of some media…Everything indicates [it]…was in France at the start of the 20th century,” he said in a tweet accompanied by a picture of the book.

– Additional reporting by ANNA WLODARCZAK-SEMCZUK in Warsaw, Poland.


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