We know this is a difficult time for everyone, and we continue to send our very best wishes to you all.
The Wiener Holocaust Library
The Library is partially opening
We are pleased to announce that the Library will be partially reopening on Monday 12 April 2021.
We will initially reopen with reduced opening times (Tuesday - Friday, 11am-4pm) with pre-booked appointments in the Wolfson Reading Room, and continued health and safety measures. Our exhibition space remains closed, and we will keep you updated on when we will be opening our new exhibition to the public.
We continue to closely monitor the situation with respects to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as such, our regulations are under constant review and might change at short notice. The safety and wellbeing of all our staff and visitors are of paramount importance and we thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this uncertain time.
Please visit the Library’s website for further details or contact us if you have any queries.
We look forward to welcoming you back to the Library soon!
The Library’s new exhibition will uncover how forensic and other evidence about the death marches has been gathered since the end of the Holocaust. It chronicles how researchers and others attempted to recover the death march routes – and those who did not survive them. Efforts to analyse and commemorate the death marches continue to this day.
Towards the end of the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of prisoners still held within the Nazi camp system were forcibly evacuated in terrible conditions under heavy guard. Prisoners were sent out on foot, by rail, in horse-drawn wagons, in lorries and by ship. Conveys split, dispersed and rejoined others, with routes stretching from several dozen to hundreds of miles long. Thousands of people were murdered en route in the last days before the war’s end, although it is impossible to know the exact numbers.
Many of these chaotic and brutal evacuations became known as ‘death marches’ by those who endured them. They form the last chapter of the Nazi genocide.
You can now explore over sixty eyewitness accounts of those who experienced and survived the Nazi death marches on the Library’s new digital resource, Testifying to the Truth.
For a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibition, watch the video below which features co-curators Dr Christine Schmidt (The Wiener Holocaust Library) and Professor Dan Stone (Holocaust Research Institute, Royal Holloway, University of London).
Exhibition catalogue now available
Death Marches: Evidence and Memory
The exhibition catalogue from the inaugural exhibition of the Holocaust and Genocide Research Partnership, on display in 2021 at The Wiener Holocaust Library and the Holocaust & Exhibition and Learning Centre, Huddersfield, is now available to purchase online.
A virtual event to commemorate the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda
Kwibuka 27 – Genocide and the Politics of Memory in Rwanda
The Wiener Holocaust Library is pleased to host a virtual panel discussion in collaboration with the Ishami Foundation to remember the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
April 7 2021 marks the 27th anniversary of the start of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. This year, Rwanda has repeatedly made the headlines with coverage of the arrest and subsequent trial of Paul Rusesabagina. This former rescuer faces multiple charges, including financing terrorism and forming terrorist groups. But much media coverage until recently has focussed on his role in the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda, a role survivors have critiqued as simplified and inaccurate.
This commemoration period, this Kwibuka 27, questions about how genocide is remembered are at the forefront of conversations. Our panel members offer their own personal and professional reflections on: the importance of survivor voices and personal testimony (Omar Ndizeye); the challenges of navigating media simplifications and the nuances of intergenerational memory (Alice Musabende); and the role of post-genocide justice in shaping identity and memory (Phil Clark). The panel will be chaired by Zoe Norridge (Ishami Foundation Chair) and there will be time for questions and discussion at the end.
Flame of remembrance lit to mark the beginning of the 100-day commemoration period for the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Genocide Awareness Month
Guest blog by Charles Fox
The significance of the date 17 April 1975 – the day that Phnom Penh was taken over by the Khmer Rouge – to Cambodian communities globally cannot be underestimated. Despite the passing of almost half a century, the impact of the fall of Cambodia to the Khmer Rouge has left deep scars on the country and the diaspora. After the coup in 1970, and the subsequent five-year civil war between the communist Khmer Rouge and the forces of the nationalist Lon Nol government, the Khmer Rouge attempted to purge the country of corruption and the bourgeoisie. They evacuated cities, banned possessions and sent the entire population to work the land. What started the day Phnom Penh fell to the communists was fuelled by years of a rural and urban divide, United States carpet bombing, and Khmer Rouge propaganda.
Many accounts of that fateful day in 1975 see us drawn up the wide Monivong Boulevard of Phnom Penh towards the French embassy as young Khmer Rouge cadres entered the capital. If we were to be whisked away north to the second-largest city in Cambodia, Battambang, the same scenes played out but at a different pace. “We did not evacuate immediately, they ordered the residents to provide food to 10 Khmer Rouge soldiers each, we set up a table out front of the house and we feed them” recalls Vira Rama, then a child. Days later the false threat of American bombing and the order to evacuate forced Vira and his family into the provinces, to the start of what has come to be understood as one of the most murderous regimes the world has seen. Almost immediately stories started to circulate of the killing of those aligned with Lon Nol.
Fast forward to 2015, I received an email from Vira that would begin a series of exchanges which became the basis of a collaboration and friendship which lasts to this day. I was working in Cambodia at the time, and Vira had read an article in the Phnom Penh Post about my work with archival images. Vira shared his family images from before and after the Khmer Rouge. Over several years, Vira and I talked about these images; what they meant and what they represented, and this dialogue resulted in Buried published in 2019. The book was well-received, resulting in talks at The Photographers’ Gallery and The Wiener Holocaust Library in London. Eighteen months since the publication of Buried, Vira and I continue our friendship and dialogue, which I am very grateful for. His generosity of time and candour have never faltered.
Forty-six years since the fall of Phnom Penh the importance of the Rama family images and their stories reflect the experiences of so many, one which still holds significance in the multitude of failings of the international community before, during and after the Khmer Rouge. These discussions are as relevant today as they were then.
We are pleased to announce the publication of two new articles focusing on the development of memory and recognition of the Roma Genocide on the Library's online educational resource The Holocaust Explained.
Roma and Sinti were persecuted before, during and after the Third Reich. While an understanding of the persecution has begun to develop in recent years, with events such as the Library’s 2019 exhibition, Forgotten Victims: The Nazi Genocide of Roma and Sinti, the Roma genocide under the Nazis is often overlooked. Significant misconceptions about how, why and where Roma and Sinti were persecuted remain.
As such, we are pleased to have published two new articles on this important subject. The first article focuses on the distortion of the genocide in the aftermath of the Second World War, and how survivors and victims had to fight for recognition. The second considers how Roma commemorate and remember the genocide, and how this topic has been historically misrepresented.
Collections at the Library
Jews of Konin
We are pleased to announce that the Jews of Konin collection of interviews is now live and will be available to access in the Wolfson Reading Room once the Library has re-opened
This collection comprises a set of recorded conversations of former Jewish inhabitants of Konin, Poland. The conversations with sixty-four individuals were recorded in five countries across three continents during 1987-1988. The describe life in Konin from c. 1900-1946 and cover such themes as religious practice and belief; Polish-Jewish relations, work and recreation; political affiliations; Nazi persecution and post-war life.
These interviews form the raw material for Theo Richmond’s acclaimed book, Konin: A Quest. If you would like to find out more about this collection visit our website to read the Library’s Senior Archivist’s recent blog Konin: Shtetl or Shtot?
A map of Konin. Taken from Konin: A Quest (Pantheon, 1995).
Wednesday 7 April, 7-8pm
Virtual Book Talk: Drunk on Genocide – Alcohol and Mass Murder in Nazi Germany
In this virtual book talk, Professor Edward Westermann will be in conversation with Professor Dan Stone to discuss his book Drunk on Genocide - Alcohol and Mass Murder in Nazi Germany.
Iby Knill and Trude Silman will be in conversation with Tracy Craggs (Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association) to discuss their experiences before, during and after the Holocaust, in particular, the effect that the death marches have had on their lives.
In this new work, Ümit Kurt digs into the details of the Armenian dispossession that produced the homogeneously Turkish city in which he grew up. In particular, he examines the population that gained from ethnic cleansing.
Virtual Book Launch: The Palgrave Handbook of Britain and the Holocaust
To mark the publication of The Palgrave Handbook of Britain and the Holocaust, the Library will host an online panel discussion exploring how Britain has engaged and disengaged with the Holocaust in the past, how it continues to in the present, and reflect on how it may do so in the future.
Virtual Event: Forced Labour and Genocide: Then and Now
René Cassin and The Wiener Holocaust Library invite you to listen to our speakers who will discuss the issue of forced labour as a means of persecution and genocide used during the Nazi-era and more recently in China today.
Khatchig Mouradian will be discussing his newly published book, The Resistance Network, which gives a history of an underground network of humanitarians, missionaries, and diplomats in Ottoman Syria who helped save the lives of thousands during the Armenian Genocide.
Virtual Symposium: The Holocaust in Eastern Europe: Sources, Memory, Politics
This symposium, in honour of Professor Antony Polonsky on the occasion of his 80th birthday, brought together established and junior scholars researching the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. The day's full programme and information on speakers can be accessed here.
Virtual Workshop: Testifying to the Truth: Archival Discovery Workshop for Postgraduate Students
An archival discovery workshop centred on the Library's new digital resource, Testifying to the Truth, which features more than 1,000 eyewitness accounts of refugee and survivors of the Holocaust, newly digitised and translated into English for the first time.
This workshop featured an introductory hands-on navigation and framing session co-led by the Library's Deputy Director and Head of Research, Dr Christine Schmidt, and Digital Asset Manager, Leah Sidebotham, with Dr Madeline White (Royal Holloway, University of London).
Virtual Exhibition Launch: Death Marches: Evidence and Memory
The Holocaust and Genocide Research Partnership was pleased to launch its inaugural exhibition, Death Marches: Evidence and Memory, in March 2021.
The virtual launch event included a gallery walk-through, short talks by the co-curators and other guest speakers, with Holocaust survivor Susan Pollock speaking movingly about her experiences of a death march in 1945.
Virtual visit to The Wiener Holocaust Library Exhibit
Fate Unknown: The Search for the Missing After the Holocaust
By the end of the Second World, millions of people had been murdered or displaced by war and genocide. Families and communities were torn apart. Many were missing, and some people’s fates remain unclear to this day.
On Monday 12 April, the Library's Deputy Director and Head of Research, Dr Christine Schmidt, along with co-curator, Professor Dan Stone, will virtually guide through this remarkable and little known story of the agonising search for the missing after the Holocaust.
New Scholarship on the History and Memory of the Holocaust in Poland
We are looking forward to this upcoming event from our friends at the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity at the Graduate Center, featuring a new wave of scholars, on Thursday 22 April.
Demands upon the Library continue to increase as we face rising antisemitism, racism, distortion and denial of the Holocaust and genocide. We need to continue our important work to ensure our Collections are put to the best possible use and to the service of the future.
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