Salberga Psalter, 8th century, State Library
History of the Foundation
By 1947, as a result of the Second World War and the dissolution of Prussia, parts of the Prussian State's museum and library collections had been destroyed, looted or scattered. In the eastern part of Germany the surviving buildings, most notably those on the Museum Island and the State Library on Unter den Linden, were provisionally re-opened for use. In West Germany some Federal States took over as trustees with temporary responsibility for former Prussian collections.
On 25 July 1957 a law was passed establishing the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), based on the German Federal Constitution which states that, where the Federal interest is greater, the legal succession to former Prussian possessions can be ruled by Federal law.
After years of constitutional wrangling between the Federal Government and some individual states, the Foundation was finally able to start work in 1961, with its headquarters in Berlin.
Initially, alongside the Federal Government, the Prussian "successor states" of Baden-Württemberg, Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein were members of the Foundation; in 1975 the other West German Federal States also joined. Later, the Unification Treaty allowed for the temporary inclusion of former GDR institutions (Berlin State Museums, German State Library, the Merseburg branch of the GDR Central State Archive).
After all the new Federal States joined the Foundation in 1992, a permanent settlement was confirmed in 1994.