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Luther’s Writings in the Saxon State Library, Dresden

Europe: Heritage Lived Sächsische Landesbibliothek - Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden

Martin Luther shaped modern Europe with the Reformation he initiated. The development towards nation states and languages, the separation of state and religion, freedom of conscience, individuality and the ideal of education received important impulses by his writings and his work. Saxony, the mother country of the Reformation, is home to numerous documents from Luther and his closest associates. The Saxon State and University Library Dresden (SLUB) as successor of the Court Library of the Prince Electors and Kings of Saxony is the guardian of these treasures. Among them is Luther's lecture manuscript from 1513, which has been in the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme since 2015.

Special attention was paid to the writings of the Protestant reformers in 2017 on the 500th anniversary of the publication of the 95 theses, which stimulated a series of activities that will continue well beyond the year. In a blog created as a collaborative project, 95 documents of the Reformation from the SLUB collection were digitized and presented by numerous scholars. The contributions have also been published as a book (Hasse, Kocourek, Nitzschke (Ed.): Manu propria - Mit eigener Hand, Beucha: Sax Verlag 2017). The results of this project flowed into a highly frequented exhibition of manuscripts and pamphlets of the Reformation period, which can be visited permanently online.

As a result of this exhibition, numerous donors were won to support us financially in the elaborate restoration of our manuscripts. The Dresden Reformers Bible, a document containing numerous autographs, which suffered severe damage during the Second World War, was professionally restored and secured for the future. In addition to the scholars, students of the Technical University of Dresden also deal with Luther's writings from the holdings of the SLUB in courses and studies. A short film produced by the SLUB with the support of the Saxon State Ministry of Science and Art (SMWK) provides an insight into the numerous activities as well as a visit to our treasure chambers. The library thus fulfils its obligation to preserve European cultural heritage for the future and make it accessible to research and the public - in the European Heritage Year and beyond.

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