Cartel of freethinkers' associations in Munich

The stamps "KFVM" and "M. Riess" indicate the cartel of freethinkers' associations in Munich and/or one of its founding members, Dr. Max Riess (also written Rieß, 1871 – 1908). The cartel was founded in June 1907 as an umbrella organisation of four associations, namely the Munich section of the Deutscher Monistenbund (German monists' association), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für ethische Kultur (German society for ethical culture), the Freireligiöse Gemeinde München (freely religious community of Munich) and the Jungdeutscher Kulturbund (young Germans' cultural association). The objective of this association was to improve cooperation among each other and to strengthen representation toward the outside. The cartel itself did not have any members, but acted solely as an umbrella organisation for the member associations. The cartel was presided over by a chairman, decisions were taken by representatives of all association at the conference of delegates. Around 1914, the associations organised in the cartel had a total of around 1,100 members.

The cartel moved from its original headquarters in Königinstraße 71 in Munich to a central location in Weinstraße 8. It was there that a reading room was furnished as well, in which current periodicals and a library were available. The library's original holdings consisted of the private library of Max Riess. The book collection was further expanded by donations of individual members, copies handed in by traders and publishing houses and the personal estate of an unnamed grammar-school teacher.

No further reports of activities of the cartel are preserved for the time between the wars. It has to be assumed that the Jungdeutscher Kulturbund and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für ethische Kultur no longer existed in 1933 or were at least dormant, since none of the two groups appears in the authorities' records any longer. The local section of the monists' association was abolished in 1933, its assets seized. In 1946 the German monists' association was re-founded in Munich under the name Freigeistige Aktion – Deutscher Monistenbund. The Freireligiöse Gemeinde München had not been abolished, but its activities were suppressed almost completely up to 1938, with individual members being persecuted. It continues to exist today as the Bund für Geistesfreiheit Bayern (association for intellectual freedom Bavaria).

Freigeistige Aktion – Deutscher Monistenbund
Bund für Geistesfreiheit Bayern

The clear indication that the books were seized is the donor number G.n. 14428 that is written in pencil on the title pages of all books. The number stands for the Munich Gestapo. Stamps prove that the books belonged to the cartel, whose current successor organisation is the "Dachverband Freier Weltanschauungsgemeinschaften e. V." (DFW, umbrella organisation of associations of free philosophies of life).

Dachverband Freier Weltanschauungsgemeinschaften

The books were handed over to the President of the Dachverband Freier Weltanschauungsgemeinschaften, Ms. Renate Bauer, in Munich on 24 July 2017. Also present at the restitution were Ms. Ortrun Lenz, acting as representative of the Freigeistige Aktion für humanistische Kultur e. V. (successor organisation of the monists' association) and Ms. Assunta Tammelleo for the Bund für Geistesfreiheit.

The ten volumes restituted on 24 July 2017 have been digitized and continue to be searchable in BSB DISCOVER!.