This online database shares eyewitness accounts from the Holocaust, many of which have never been available to the public online before and have been translated, by a team of the Library’s volunteers, into English for the first time. We would like to sincerely thank all of the Library’s volunteers who have been a part of this translation effort. This project would not have been possible without them.
Topics covered by the eyewitness accounts range from descriptions of the experience of living through Nazi ghettos, concentration and death camps, to the stories of those who hid from the Nazis, either in plain sight using false identities, or in attics and cellars. The authors were Jewish, Roma and Sinti survivors as well as Germans who witnessed Nazi persecution. There are also several testimonies from those who participated in resistance activities against the Nazis and their perpetrators and those who managed to escape from the death camps.
On 28 January, the Library celebrated the launch of Testifying to the Truth with a virtual panel discussion. Chaired by Dr Toby Simpson, Director of The Wiener Holocaust Library, the panellists discussed the history of the collection, the context of early Holocaust testimonies, the significance of the collection for scholarship, and the project of translation.
“History is important. Facts are important. During these unsettling times, it can feel like they are under attack.”
On Friday 22 January we were honoured to host a moving and reflective virtual commemoration for Holocaust Memorial Day 2021.
This year's theme, Be the Light in the Darkness, asks us to recognise that the responsibility for education and prevention lies with all of us. As the distortion of the Holocaust has sadly become more widespread, we have a greater responsibility than ever to face the truth about the nature of genocide and tackle the threat posed by propaganda and hate.
We were delighted to be joined by the Leader of the Her Majesty’s Opposition, and the Library’s local MP for Holborn and St Pancras, Sir Keir Starmer. The virtual event featured testimonies drawn from the Library’s collections, read by British actor Olivia Williams. There were also reflections from The Rt Hon Lord Eric Pickles, Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues and Rabbi Jeremy Gordon from the New London Synagogue.
The event was concluded with a memorial prayer from Cantor Jaclyn Chernett.
This exhibition will uncover how forensic and other evidence about the death marches have been gathered since the end of the Holocaust. It will chronicle how researchers and others have attempted to recover the death march routes - and remember those who did not survive them.
We are delighted to announce that we will be virtually celebrating the launch of this exhibition with special guest speakers on Thursday 25 February. We will be releasing tickets for this event over the coming days, please stay tuned!
The Ernst Fraenkel Prize
The Wiener Holocaust Library Ernst Fraenkel Prize is a prestigious annual competition for book-length academic manuscripts on the Holocaust, its context and implications, and twentieth-century and post-Holocaust genocides.
We are delighted to announce the Ernst Fraenkel Prize 2020 joint winners. Judged by Dr Zoë Waxman (University of Oxford), Professor Tim Cole (University of Bristol) and Professor Debórah Dwork (City University of New York), the submissions this year showcased some outstanding work.
The 2020 prize has been jointly awarded to:
Dr Andrew Kornbluth, for their work, The August Trials: The Holocaust and Postwar Justice in Poland interrogates the trials that took place in Poland at the immediate end of the war and points to the origins of themes that persist within the politics of memory in contemporary Poland over the question of Polish complicity in the Holocaust
Dr Joanna Sliwa, for their work, Jewish Childhood in Krakow: A Microhistory of the Holocaust which immerses the reader in the thick description through the lifeworlds of children in the Krakow ghetto
The judging panel also highly commended the following Finalist:
Dr Elizabeth Anthony, for their work The Compromise of Return: Viennese Jews After the Holocaust which examines the shifting meanings of what returning ‘home’ meant for Jewish survivors in Vienna in the second half of the 1940s.
Call for Submissions
We are now accepting submissions for The Ernst Fraenkel Prize 2021. Please visit the Library's website for more information regarding submission requirements.
A Vignette from the Library's Archives
Vergangenheitsbewältigung and the case of Emmrich Menzner
By Howard Falksohn, Senior Archivist
Duden’s Lexicon adopts the classic British proclivity for the understatement in its definition of Vergangenheitsbewältigung: “public debate within a country on a problematic period of its recent history…” The fact is, however, that the term is commonly understood to mean Germany’s coming to terms (or not) with the Holocaust both collectively and on an individual basis.
There has been a proliferation of literature on the subject in the last couple of decades, so much so, that The Wiener Holocaust Library has a whole section dedicated to it. Publications include scholarly analyses of guilt and shame in entire communities to personal memoirs detailing how individual families wrestled with the role of their forebears. No doubt the lapse of time since the events themselves has facilitated this dialogue - in many cases initiated by second, third and fourth generation Germans.
Whilst the Library holds a number of primary source materials from the point of view of the perpetrator, these take the form of published memoirs and diaries of prominent Nazis and reprinted testimony from defendants and witnesses in war crimes trials. The overwhelming majority of the Library’s original manuscript, diaries, letters and personal documents stem from the families of the victims of Nazi persecution.
A rare exception is one letter unearthed amongst The Wiener Library holdings almost 20 years ago. The very recent discovery of it via a description on the portal, Archives Hub, has immersed the family of the author into an intense period of soul-searching.
To find out more please read the rest of Howard's blog online via the button below.
Letter from SS Oberreiter Emmerich Menzner, member of a veterinär Ersatzkompanie in Radau (?), Poland, to Armin Düsterfest in Rückwerda, near Litzmannstadt (Lodz), 19 March 1942. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.
The Slightly Foxed Podcast
Dr Wiener's Library
Anthony Wells worked at The Wiener Holocaust Library in London for a decade. In this podcast episode, he leads the Slightly Foxededitors into the history of the Library and discusses how Dr Alfred Wiener ensured that those who disappeared in the Holocaust are not forgotten.
Virtual Event: Hans Albrecht Foundation Annual Lecture and Human Rights Award
We are very much looking forward to the Hans Albrecht Foundation Annual Lecture and Human Rights Award with Professor David Nott of the David Nott Foundation, Iris Veysey from the Imperial War Museum London and Lord Daniel Finkelstein.
Jewish resistance during the Holocaust is largely understood as rare armed group activities in the Nazi-occupied East, for example, ghetto uprisings or partisan activities. By contrast, this talk focuses on forgotten individual acts of resistance and will demonstrate how Jewish women and men performed countless acts of resistance in Nazi Germany proper between 1933 and 1945.
This event marks the recent publication of two important contributions which challenge traditional understandings of the extent of colonial violence and the process of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire.
By facilitating international access to an unprecedented range of key archives and collections related to the Holocaust as well as archival and digital humanities expertise, the EHRI Conny Kristel Fellowships support and stimulate Holocaust research conducted by researchers, archivists, librarians, curators, and junior scholars, especially PhD candidates with limited resources.
The Kristel Fellowships are funded by the European Union under the rules of transnational access and are thus principally intended for applicants working at institutions established in member states (the EU-27) and states associated to Horizon 2020. Candidates from Central and Eastern Europe are especially encouraged to apply. It is not possible to apply for a Kristel Fellowship at an institution in the same country where one works.
Triennial Conference of the Research Centre for German & Austrian Exile Studies
The Second and Third Generation: The Experiences of the Descendants of Refugees from National Socialism
9 March 2021, 2.00pm - 11 March 2021, 3.00pm, online
It has long been recognised that the experiences of refugees from National Socialism, their persecution, incarceration, hiding, emigration, resettlement, further migration, trauma and later lives have had an impact on their children and grandchildren. This conference will explore this in all its facets and different expressions and will focus both on the relationship between the generations as well as the specific differences between generations.
Manchester Jewish Museum Marks Holocaust Memorial Day
Young Activists Keep Past Stories Alive
This January, Manchester Jewish Museum's third Trailblazer saw nine young people aged 16-18 become Creative Activists to create powerful acts of sharing and connection as they explored and shared stories to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, inspired by real-life stories past and present.
Responding to this year's Holocaust Memorial Day theme, Being a Light in the Darkness, the nine activists uncovered stories from the Museum's own extensive archives, their own family histories and from speaking to local residents about their own experiences.
Discover the History of Jews in Britain from 1066, a history full of journeys and migration. From a medieval mikvah telling the story of the first Jewish community in Britain to photographs belonging to children who escaped Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport, this virtual tour explores many periods of migration.
The Jewish Museum London is offering a virtual version of their weekly tour. The next one is taking place on Monday 8 February, 3.30-4.15pm.