Žikeš a Žaltář z Mohuče

Aktuálně vydaná kniha vzpomínek nakladatele Vladimíra Žikeše s názvem Slovenské povstání bez mýtů a legend naznačuje, jak odvážnou a dobrodružnou povahu měl její autor. Do knihy jsem připravil jako doslov Žikešův životopis. Při jeho přípravě jsem prošel obsáhlý nakladatelský archiv v Knihovně Národního muzea i soukromé dokumenty, které mi poskytla paní Zuzana Mazáčová, Žikešem přisvojená dcera. Unikátní obchod, který se Žikešovi podařil v poválečném období, nebyl v dostupných materiálech nikde zachycen. Na ojedinělou knižní obchodní transakci jsem narazil až nyní při studiu zahraniční odborné literatury.

Autor Kenneth D. Alford odhalil díky dokumentům z amerických archivů poválečný osud vzácného německého prvotisku, v němž sehrál důležitou roli i Vladimír Žikeš. Patrně na konci války se mu totiž shodou šťastných okolností podařilo odkoupit unikátní exemplář Mohučského žaltáře, původem z drážďanských knihovních fondů. Jeden ze sovětských vojáků vyjmul svazek z válečné kořisti mířící do Moskvy a nabídl jej Žikešovi. Zřejmě s ohledem na neblahý rostoucí vliv komunistické moci se Žikeš později v roce 1947 rozhodl knihu odprodat do Spojených států amerických. Odtud se pak inkunábule dostala v roce 1950 do Západního Německa a dnes je opět součástí sbírek Saské zemské a univerzitní knihovny v Drážďanech. Je naprosto pochopitelné, že místní archivy o okolnostech tohoto příběhu mlčí. Žikeš si jistě uvědomoval, že komunistický aparát by operaci, která dostala vzácnou knihu do západního kulturního okruhu, neponechal bez perzekucí. Vše je podrobněji popsáno v knize Spojenecké rabování za 2. světové války, ze které cituji pasáže se zmínkami o Vladimíru Žikešovi:

„By 1948 the Mainz Psalter was in the United States, but it had originated from the Landesbibliothek in Dresden. During the war, the German govern ment sent the rare books from the Dresden Landesbibliothek to Czechoslovakia for safekeeping. When the Germans were driven out of Czechoslovakia, these books were left in Czech territory and were seized by the Soviets, just as they seized the Sistine Madonna from the Dresden Gallery, which is now in Moscow. Apparently some Soviet soldier “liberated” the Psalter while it was en route to Moscow and sold it to Vladimir Zikes, a bookseller in Prague. According to postwar Czech law, it was legal for Zikes to own German government or private property found or obtained in Czechoslovakia. It was not legal for him to export it from Czechoslovakia without a license from a bureau established for that purpose.

Zikes was a man of considerable experience, and he was undoubtedly aware that it would be possible for him to extract several pages from the book, particularly the first leaf with the great colored initial “B” and the last leaf with the colophon and printer’s device, and to sell these leaves without any necessity of establishing provenance for at least $10,000 apiece. Knowing that it was only a matter of time until the Russians took over his country and realizing the value of this book but also the difficulties of selling it without a clear title which would be recognized internationally, Zikes wrote to New York bookseller Herbert Reichner, asking him if he would be interested in selling a copy of the Psalter. Reichner answered that of course he would, thinking that it might be merely a facsimile but being curious to know what it was all about. Nothing at the time was said to Reichner about the fact that this book came from Dresden and that it bore no bookplate or other mark of its provenance. The book arrived in New York by plane from Holland in October 1947. It had been sent with a consular invoice that contained several misstate ments of fact: (1) that it was sold and not on consignment, (2) that it was valued at $320, and (3) that it was dated 1557 instead of 1457.

When the book arrived in New York, Reichner was astounded to find that it was actually the Dresden copy in its original pigskin binding. His first inclination was to return it to the Czech dealer, but before doing so he decided to seek the advice of William A. Jackson, librarian of the Houghton Library at Harvard University. A month after the arrival of the book, Jackson called
on Reichner and was shown the book. Jackson advised Reichner to keep the book in his vault and say nothing about it—that he would approach the U.S. Department of State to find out whether they might approve of keeping the book in America. On February 10, 1948, Jackson traveled to Washington, D.C., and called upon Mr. William R. Tyler, an old friend, who stated that he was in charge of such matters in the State Department.

Jackson later claimed that he obtained from Tyler a promise that no attempt would be made to trace the present location of the book without notifying him, Jackson, in advance. The reason for this was that if the State Department should decide to seize the book, the identity of the Czech bookseller might be revealed; he could then be in very critical danger if the Soviets learned of the transaction. Furthermore, Jackson stated that Reichner had begged him not to reveal his name if it could possibly be prevented, because as a former citizen of Vienna he had had experience with bureaucratic officials. Although he was now an American citizen, he feared that such bureaucrats were of the same type in America as they were in Europe. Upon receiving this promise, Jackson proposed that a trusteeship be set up consisting of the Librarian of Congress, the Librarian of the Morgan Library, and the Librarian of Harvard, any two of whom would be empowered to decide when it was proper for the book to be returned to Dresden. He further suggested that the state department give its approval to the placement of the book in the custody of the Harvard Library under the control of these trustees and that no term should be set upon the time the book should remain at Harvard but that this should be left to the judgment of the majority of the trustees. At that time Jackson said that if the state department would approve of such a trusteeship, Harvard would endeavor to give the Czech bookseller $10,000 for his service to civilization in preserving the book intact. After some delay, he was informed that this proposal was viewed favorably by the department. He then went to Washington on April 23, 1948, to arrange the details.“

Citováno z knihy:
ALFORD, Kenneth D. The Priceless Mainz Psalter. In: ALFORD, Kenneth D. Allied Looting in World War II: Thefts of Art, Manuscripts, Stamps and Jewelry in Europe. Jefferson (USA): McFarland, 2011, s. 166–169. ISBN 9780786460533.