Góra Kalwaria was one of many shtetls in Poland whose Jewish life disappeared in the wake of WW II. Also goods of Jewish culture suffered immense losses. Particularly interesting is the wartime fate of library owned by tzaddik's family Alter. The history of its dispersal during WW II is exemplary for many Jewish library collections in Nazi-occupied Europe.
The shtetl and its founders
Góra Kalwaria, called Ger or Gur by Jews, was one of many towns near 
deu. Warschau, eng. Warsaw

Warsaw is the capital of Poland and also the largest city in the country (population in 2022: 1,861,975). It is located in the Mazovian Voivodeship on Poland's longest river, the Vistula. Warsaw first became the capital of the Polish-Lithuanian noble republic at the end of the 16th century, replacing Krakow, which had previously been the Polish capital. During the partitions of Poland-Lithuania, Warsaw was occupied several times and finally became part of the Prussian province of South Prussia for eleven years. From 1807 to 1815 the city was the capital of the Duchy of Warsaw, a short-lived Napoleonic satellite state; in the annexation of the Kingdom of Poland under Russian suzerainty (the so-called Congress Poland). It was not until the establishment of the Second Polish Republic after the end of World War I that Warsaw was again the capital of an independent Polish state.

At the beginning of World War II, Warsaw was conquered and occupied by the Wehrmacht only after intense fighting and a siege lasting several weeks. Even then, a five-digit number of inhabitants were killed and parts of the city, known not least for its numerous baroque palaces and parks, were already severely damaged. In the course of the subsequent oppression, persecution and murder of the Polish and Jewish population, by far the largest Jewish ghetto under German occupation was established in the form of the Warsaw Ghetto, which served as a collection camp for several hundred thousand people from the city, the surrounding area and even occupied foreign countries, and was also the starting point for deportation to labor and extermination camps.

As a result of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising from April 18, 1943 and its suppression in early May 1943, the ghetto area was systematically destroyed and its last inhabitants deported and murdered. This was followed in the summer of 1944 by the Warsaw Uprising against the German occupation, which lasted two months and resulted in the deaths of almost two hundred thousand Poles, and after its suppression the rest of Warsaw was also systematically destroyed by German units.

In the post-war period, many historic buildings and downtown areas, including the Warsaw Royal Castle and the Old Town, were rebuilt - a process that continues to this day.

 with a large Jewish population. Like many other urban centers in central Poland during the late medieval and early modern periods, the town, from the moment it was granted city rights in 1670, had the privilege de non tolerandis Iudaeis – a ban on Jewish settlement. History, however, made a mockery of the town's first owner, the Poznań Catholic bishop Stefan Wierzbowski. His plans to make the place a shrine to the passion of Jesus Christ and a Christian pilgrimage center were only partially successful, as the town would become one of the most important centers of Jewish pilgrimage. 
The first Jewish families arrived here at the beginning of the 19th century, thanks to the Prussian government's decree of 1802, and after several decades Góra Kalwaria, became a shtetl – a town with a distinctly Jewish character, where the number of residents of the Mosaic faith, followers of Hasidism, exceeded the number of Christians. Since the 19th century, the town had two names, a Christian one – Góra Kalwaria – and a Jewish one – Ger, meaning in Hebrew: "convert." Most of the Ger Hasidim, who made up more than half of the pre-1939 population (a. 7,000 residents) of Góra Kalwaria, were deported to the Warsaw ghetto, then to Treblinka and murdered there. No more than a few dozen Jews from Ger survived the Holocaust. After the war, they returned to the town for a short time, setting up a Jewish committee here to help Holocaust survivors, but soon began to move abroad mainly under the impact of the anti-Jewish pogroms in other towns in postwar Poland. Only four remained in communist Poland and Góra Kalwaria. Today, followers of Gerer chasidim in Israel, Argentina and the United States (New York) constitute a large Orthodox religious community.1 
The reason for the dynamic development of the Jewish Ger in the 19th and early 20th centuries was not so much the attractive economic conditions as the activities of the Hasidic Alter dynasty here. Its founder was Tzadik Yitzhak Meir Rothenberg Alter (1798-1866), who settled in Góra Kalwaria in 1859. The flourishing of the town as an important Hassidic pilgrimage center in Poland and all of Europe was ensured by his successors, including his grandson, Abraham Mordechai Alter (1866-1948), the last tzaddik living in Ger and the first not to be buried here (he died in Jerusalem).2  
The seat of the tzaddik and the entire Jewish quarter were located in the center of the town. Erected opposite the synagogue, the Alter’s mansion was housed in a large brick building. Preserved to this day, it is a building of unique value, with a matzah baking oven surviving in the attic, probably the only one of its kind in all of Poland. A ritual bathhouse (mikvah), a religious school for boys (cheder) and a large prayer house (bet ha-midrash) attached to the court were located in its vicinity. The pilgrimage journeys of thousands of Hasidic Jews who came here were facilitated by a narrow-gauge railroad line, established in 1898, connecting Góra Kalwaria with the center of Warsaw, colloquially known by local Jewish and non-Jewish residents as the rebe kolejke  (Yiddish: rabbi’s train).3 
Tzadik Abraham Alter was a legendary, charismatic figure, whose image we know from surviving photographs, including his trips to Karlsbad for a cure in 1931 and to Palestine in 1932, where he traveled several times. He was one of the founders of Agudas Yisroel, a pan-European party founded in Germany in 1909, fighting to defend the religious and economic rights of Jews. It began its activities on Polish soil in 1916, and during the interwar period had about half a million members, remaining loyal to the Polish state. Its religious conservatism and political influence in Poland caused concern among other Jewish parties, especially Zionist groups, including abroad. Alfred Döblin, who traveled to Poland in 1924 at the request of German Zionists seeking support for the idea of Jewish emigration to Palestine, noted in his diary after an audience with Tzadik Alter his impressions of his stay in Góra Kalwaria, expressing with a note of superiority about the residents – typical Ostjuden clad in black challahs and tall black hats. 
The international fame enjoyed by Abraham Alter contributed to his rescue from the Holocaust. At the beginning of the German occupation, he hid in Warsaw under a changed name. In the spring of 1940, thanks to the actions of several rabbis abroad and with the support of diplomatic circles, he and several family members managed to leave occupied Poland – via Vienna and Trieste – for Palestine on an Italian visa. He was aided in this by a Polish aristocrat and nephew of Poland's pre-war president Ignacy Mościcki, Stefan Pojarski, who had been greatly impressed by Alter since his meeting with him in 1935. In contrast, the rest of the family suffered death: the tzadik's eldest son, Rabbi Meir Alter, who refused to leave occupied Poland, as well as the tzadik's daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren.4
German troops occupied Góra Kalwaria on September 8, 1939. The beginning of the occupation put an end to the exuberant life of the Jewish shtetl. It also marked the beginning of the demise of Tzadik Alter’s household, who had gone to Warsaw two days earlier. Shortly after his departure, the occupiers set about looting the property he had left behind: furniture, clothing and other valuables. Of particular importance to the Nazis was the extensive library located in the Tzadik's mansion. Its most valuable part was the collection of rare prints with rabbinic commentaries and manuscripts by prominent rabbis. Also of unique value were rabbinic and kabbalistic manuscripts, some of which dated back to the 11th and12th centuries, and out-of-print works by great Hasidic personalities. Many volumes were bound in leather with gilded inscriptions, making the library expanded by Rebbe Abraham Alter a collection of exceptional cultural value. The only library catalog, compiled in the 1930s, unfortunately did not survive the Holocaust, so we do not know the exact number of the volumes in the collection
The wartime fate of the Alter library is an episode typical not only of the Jewish history of Góra Kalwaria. It is also exemplary of the fate of many Jewish collections in Nazi-occupied Central and Eastern Europe, revealing the mechanisms, structures and phases of a practice that went down in history under the name NS-Raubkunst. Alter’s library and its history after 1939 also provides a characteristic example of a large part of Jewish library collections and cultural property in the early postwar period. The issues still harbor more questions than answers and require further thorough research.5 
The first trace of interest in Jewish libraries in occupied Poland is provided by correspondence sent as early as September 16, 1939 to the SD Hauptamt in Berlin from the SD post in Dessau. It concerns a proposal by Erich Wilken, the Evangelical pastor Protestant pastor in Magdeburg's Martinsgemeinde, who was in close contact with Franconian Gauleiter Julius Streicher. In his letter, Wilken called for a review of Jewish libraries in Poland in search of Kabbalistic literature, which could, in his opinion, have significant propaganda and political value. Based on an analysis of available sources, it seems doubtful that Wilken knew of the existence of Alter's library. There is also no indication that the most valuable part of its collection fell into the hands of large-scale robberies of library collections and works of art, often in competition with each other, carried out by German commandos affiliated with the RSHA.6 
On the other hand, noteworthy is the figure of Julius Streicher, publisher in 1923-1945 of the anti-Semitic magazine "Der Stürmer," which directed appeals to its readers in occupied Poland – both military and civilian administration representatives – to send in books, documents and archival materials left behind by Jews, among other things. One of those who responded to "Stürmer's" appeal was the commissary mayor of Góra Kalwaria, Ewald Jahnke, before the war a member of the German minority in that town, working as a carter employed by one of the local Jewish families. An exchange of correspondence with Streicher, the gauleiter of Franconia, reveals that in the fall of 1940 Jahnke sent two boxes of books to Nuremberg, possibly containing individual volumes from Alter's library. The shipment added to Streicher's collection of looted Jewish books, totaling some 10,000 volumes, 8,000 of which were transferred shortly after the war to the Offenbach Archival Depot, and later given to the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction organization, which redistributed Jewish books and religious objects looted by the Nazis around the world. From an analysis of the collection that later made its way to New York, we know that while it did indeed contain books from Góra Kalwaria, no volumes from Alter's library could be identified among them. 
The second stage of the dispersal of Rabbi Alter's book collection probably fell in the first half of 1941, a period shortly after the deportation of the Jewish population from Góra Kalwaria to the Warsaw ghetto on February 25 and 26. The rationale for this is provided by the recollections of local residents, who noticed in the courtyard of the tzaddik's mansion a German military truck loaded with "books in tarpaulin sacks on which lay a dozen large books bound in brown leather." Where exactly could the German truck loaded with books have gone from Alter's court?
We are condemned only to conjecture. One possibility is that the looted volumes contributed to the collections of pre-war Polish academic libraries that, under the German occupation, came under the administration of the Main Library Board operating under the Department of Culture and Teaching under the Nazi General Government (GG). In this case, books from Góra Kalwaria may have been transferred to the depots of the then recently established Staatsbibliothek Warschau. From post-war accounts of Polish librarians, we know that valuable Judaica were included in the Staatsbibliothek Warschau, which probably, like parts of the special collections of the Polish National Library or the Krasinski Library, were burned during the Warsaw Uprising in the early fall of 1944. Another possibility is that the valuable truckload from Góra Kalwaria went to the "scientific" institution established by the Nazis in the occupied Poland – Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit (IDO), with headquarters in Kraków and branches in Warsaw, among other places. Within the IDO functioned one of its most important departments, the Referat Judenforschung, which was in close contact with the Institut der NSDAP zur Erforschung der Judenfrage in Frankfurt am Main created by Alfred Rosenberg and possessing a rich library of seized Judaica. The IDO itself aimed, among other things, to compile a bibliography and collect literature on the history of the Jews in Eastern Europe, as well as to search for Judaica in archives. Unfortunately, the activities of the Warsaw branch of the IDO are too poorly documented to draw any conclusions about the fate of Alter's library.7 
It is also possible that the load of the truck from Góra Kalwaria went to a completely different place in the territory of the GG or directly into the Third Reich. It could have ended up in Lodz, where a branch of the Frankfurt-based Institut der NSDAP zur Erforschung der Judenfrage was planned to be established and where a campaign was underway to confiscate and confiscated Jewish books from the Lodz ghetto. In turn, via Lodz, it could even have been sent to the Frankfurt NSDAP Institute or taken to Poznań, where there was the headquarters of Haupttreuhandstelle Ost as well as newly opened German university and a repository for books confiscated in Poland by the Nazis. Finally, the most valuable part of Alter's collection may have been transferred to the RSHA's main library in Berlin, which collected Judaica from occupied Europe. RSHA's library – as well as a large part of the objects of Berlin libraries and museums – was among others taken in the second half of 1943 to secret repositories in castles under the SS administration in Lower Silesia. Here, in 1945, they fell into the hands of special NKVD units seizing captured cultural property, which was then taken to secret depots in the Soviet Union. The collections stored in them began to be revealed and transferred to Russian libraries only after the collapse of the USSR. However, the current situation caused by the war in Ukraine makes it impossible to undertake more thorough provenance research.
Post script
What is not in doubt, however, is the fate of the least valuable part of Rabbi Alter's book collection, probably comprising 19th- and 20th-century Jewish prints, which survived the war in the attic of one of the townhouses in Góra Kalwaria and fell victim to the difficult situation in which the local population found itself after the end of hostilities. Most of them were used as kindling in stoves to heat apartments, while some survived until the late 1940s and early 1950s and were vandalized by girls from a nearby boarding school. Only a few copies survived, ending up in the hands of local history teacher Edward Marchocki, who, after returning from a concentration camp in 1946, amassed a collection of various memorabilia related to the region's history.
Despite years of searching undertaken by the Committee for the Search of the Gora-Kalwaria Library affiliated with the New York Gerer chasidim community, the wartime fate of the most valuable part of Tzadik Alter's library remains unknown. However, the committee does not stop its search, driven by the belief that if the library miraculously survived, one day it will be given back. Its motto is the words of the founder of the Hasidic movement, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov:
{CIT]In remembrance lies the secret of redemption.[/CIT]