RückgabekommissionenThe first efforts to locate and reacquire looted art and cultural assets were made in Western Europe even before its liberation. Various restitution commissions were founded and put in charge of retrieving, managing and returning the cultural artifacts stolen by the National Socialists. The Western European art restitution organizations collaborated closely with the "departments for the protection of art" of the Allied armed forces.
The Reichsicherheitshauptamt (RSHA, Reich Security Head Office) was formed by the merger of the Sicherheitspolizei (SIPO, Security Police) and the Sicherheitsdienst (SD, Security Service). It was one of the twelve main offices of the SS. One of its the responsibilities was to secretly scrutinize and combat ideological opposition to the Nazi Party. Beginning in 1935, the evaluation and documentation of writings by free-masons and Jews became professionalized. A library consisting almost entirely of confiscated books was set up for this purpose. The collection of Jewish books and archive grew parallel to the increasing persecution and the annexation of other countries by the Third Reich.