The Serbian collection

The Serbian collection encompasses approximately 25,000 titles, with an annual increase of around 700 titles. The holdings also include i.a. 200 current periodicals, of which almost a quarter is available in electronic form (in open access). The major part of the collection consists of printed materials, though. Most of the historical Serbian holdings up to around 1880 are available digitally in the open-access format using the library catalogue.


The Serbian Psalter is regarded as the main work of book illumination from medieval Serbia. It represents a singular relic of a Serbian culture which was defined by orthodoxy and Byzantine educational tradition, at a time at which this culture was jeopardized by the expansion of the Ottoman Empire.

It is assumed that the manuscript was crafted for the Serbian Prince Lazar, who met his death in the Battle of Kosovo against the Turks in 1389, or for his son Stefan Lazarević († 1427). In the 15th century the manuscript belonged to the Serbian princely family Branković, in the 17th century to the monastery Pribina Glava in the region of Fruška Gora (Syrmia). In the course of the Turk wars, it was acquired by Wolfgang Heinrich von Gemell zu Fischbach, who gave the codex as a present to the monastery of Gotteszell in Lower Bavaria in 1689, from where it was brought to St. Emmeram in Regensburg in 1782 and came to Munich in 1810 in the course of the secularisation.

Serbian Psalter, end of 14th century  (Cod.slav. 4)
Digital version | Printed version in BSB DISCOVER!

Serbian collection – Special holdings

Geca Kon

A special collection within the holdings of Serbica is constituted by around 300 titles from the publishing house Geca Kon. 203 out of these titles came to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in 1943 as Nazi loot and were restituted to the Serbian National Library in 2016. To the extent permissible under copyright regulations, these titles are accessible digitally via the library catalogue.

Geca Kon (1877 – 1941) was the most important publishing bookseller of Yugoslavia and overall South-Eastern Europe in the time between the two world wars. His publishing profile included predominantly functional literature, frequently also translations of Western literature into Serbian (for example of Macchiavelli, Freud, Marx, Croce, Churchill). After Germany's attack on Yugoslavia, Kon became one of the National Socialists' first victims. Like his complete family, he lost his life in the spring of 1941.

Geca Kon's publishing house in the heart of Belgrade was Aryanised in 1942, his distributing warehouse was looted under the lead of Hermann Gerstner, librarian of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and Kriegsverwaltungsrat (military administration counsellor), in close cooperation with the then directors of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Rudolf Buttmann, and of the Austrian National Library, Paul Heigl. Five copies each of all titles were sent to Vienna via the "Generalbefehlshaber in Serbien", the commander-in-chief in Serbia, and forwarded from there to the libraries in Munich, Leipzig, Wroclaw and Berlin as "unbilled acquisitions" and accessioned.

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