E-Newsletter for June 2020 View in browser
E-Newsletter for June 2020

Dear Subscriber,

Welcome to The Wiener Holocaust Library's e-newsletter for June 2020.

This month we need your help in building our new website; we share an exclusive article on the Library's upcoming exhibition, Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust, written by Senior Curator and Head of Education, Dr Barbara Warnock; news of our latest virtual events; staff and volunteer blogs and more. 

We know this is a difficult time for everyone, and we send our very best wishes to you all.

Kind regards,

The Wiener Holocaust Library

The Wiener Holocaust Library Remains Closed

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, The Wiener Holocaust Library has been continually monitoring the UK government and NHS advice. The safety and wellbeing of all our visitors and staff is of paramount importance. This is the longest forced closure of the Library since its move to Russell Square in 2011, and it is unprecedented in the Library’s eighty-year history to be forced to close for public health reasons

The Library will now remain closed until further notice in line with the most recent government advice. Our staff will continue to work remotely and monitor mailboxes regularly and respond to enquiries as fully as we can. If you have a query do please email info@wienerlibrary.co.uk. To stay updated please visit our website or follow us on Twitter.

Although our doors are currently closed, we are continuing our vital work with our unique collections, ensuring that they are safeguarded and made accessible to the public as far as possible. Your support of our work is needed more than ever to sustain us through what will undoubtedly be a very difficult time. Thank you for continuing to value and support the Library as we work on completing these important projects, while also looking forward to reopening to the public as soon as we can.

To help see us through, please consider giving a gift to the Library today.

Help the Library build our new website

At The Wiener Holocaust Library, we have been working on a major upgrade of our main website. This project is vital from a technological point of view: in order to be fully compatible with all devices and to allow us to highlight more digitised material from our collections. We are also eager to develop more engaging online exhibitions and provide a space where online visitors can experience as much as possible of what we do, wherever they are based.

Much of the scoping work has already been completed but thanks to a grant from the Foyle Foundation, coupled with generous support from the Ostrich Charitable Trust and donations received from the public as part of Giving Tuesday, our work can now begin on the design, build and launch of the new site.

Wiener Holocaust Library Director, Dr Toby Simpson: “We are so excited to be able to build a new main website, which will transform the way people access our collections, programming and expertise online. The generosity of the Foyle Foundation and the Ostrich Charitable Trust, as well as many others, has made this project possible and we are very thankful for their support.”

If you’ve visited our exhibitions at Russell Square, used the Reading Room for research or supported us from afar, please visit the link below to complete a short survey and let us know your thoughts about what you’d like to see on our new website.

Take our survey now

The Library's website back in 2008 - we're looking forward to seeing its newest evolution!

Working from home on the Library’s forthcoming exhibition

Dr Barbara Warnock, Senior Curator and Head of Education

Map showing battles during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, April 1943. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

At the point that The Wiener Holocaust Library closed to the public and staff started working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, preparations were underway for our forthcoming exhibition Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust, intended for launch in mid-May. The themes of the exhibition had been determined and I had started to identify some of the items from our archival collections that could be included in the display, but the majority of the work of researching, writing and structuring the exhibition remained to be done.

Once we took the decision to close the Library, I gathered the books I needed and scanned some of the documents and photographs I wanted to show in the exhibition in order to be able to continue my work from home. Fortunately, one important set of relevant documents - eye-witness accounts of anti-Nazi resistance - is scanned and available remotely to staff.

Despite the drawbacks of working from home - not being able to quickly consult a book in our library, retrieve extra items from the archive or run ideas past colleagues as I work - the exhibition is now nearing completion. The help of Dr Christine Schmidt in reviewing the exhibition content, our exhibition designer Kate Pettit in creating an effective look and layout and Martina Ravagnan in organising translations of documents, has been invaluable. A few remaining details will be finished off on the return of some staff to the Library this month, and we really hope to be able to open the exhibition to the public before too long.

Jewish Lithuanian partisans group ‘The Avengers’ on their return to Vilna at the time of the liberation of the city by the Red Army, July 1944. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

The exhibition opens in June 1941, at the time of the invasion of the Soviet Union and Soviet held territories, and looks first at the responses of Jewish partisan groups based in forests to the orchestrated mass murder perpetrated by the Nazis and their collaborators in places such as Lithuania and Belarus.

The exhibition then examines Jewish resistance to the Holocaust across various sites in Nazi-occupied Europe including ghettos and camps, as well as considering urban resistance by armed groups and rescue networks in cities such as Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Brussels.

In various places, the exhibition considers what can be termed spiritual resistance to the Holocaust. It explores how, in the most adverse of circumstances, through the maintenance of covert religious practices, the creation of illicit personal or historical records and attempts to survive in hiding, Jews sought to subvert the Nazis’ policies of annihilation.

As I have worked on the exhibition, it has been a privilege to learn more about the stories of Jewish resistance that lie behind the Library’s collections on this subject, and, ahead of the opening of the exhibition, we share some of the documents that will be on display below.

Filip Müller’s testimony about Sonderkommando resistance in Auschwitz, 1957, from The Wiener Library’s collection of eye-witness accounts to the Holocaust. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

A portrait of Philipp Manes and an illustration of the Theresienstadt ghetto from Manes' journals, 1944. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

The exhibition features a display of some of the extensive journals maintained by Philipp Manes in the Theresienstadt Ghetto. Manes’ journals include records of the cultural activities that he organised in the ghetto, and contributions including writings and drawings from other Jews incarcerated there.

Part of a testimony given by Ida Sterno to The Wiener Library in 1957. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

Ida Sterno worked for the Comité des Défense des Juifs (CDJ) in Belgium arranging the rescues of Jewish children.

The first page of an account given to The Wiener Library about the activities of the Baum Group, date unknown. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

Based in Berlin, the Baum Group launched arson attacks on a Nazi anti-Soviet and anti-Semitic exhibition, Soviet Paradise in 1942. The Library has two important testimonies on the activities of the Baum group in its collections.

Part of the testimony of Mr Weichselbaum, c. 1955. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

This extensive testimony gives an account of Weichselbaum’s life and resistance activities in France, including his service as a leader of the French partisan group the Maquis.

Keep updated about the launch of Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust here. We hope to be able to announce some events to accompany this exhibition soon.

Book Talk: Hadley Freeman & Esther Safran Foer

On Wednesday 20 May, the Library was delighted to host our first virtual book talk with Hadley Freeman, Esther Safran Foer and Dr Daniel Lee.

This fascinating talk was a unique opportunity to learn about the research that went into the writing of these moving and wonderful family memoirs.

To Replicate or Not to Replicate?

Recently, an institution approached the Library to enquire if they could create a replica of one of the artefacts in our collection for display in their upcoming exhibition. The item in question is the Juden Raus! board game, which uses crude antisemitic stereotypes. 

The Library's Head of Research, Dr Christine Schmidt, and Head of Collections, Greg Toth, consider the ethics and practice of Holocaust-era artefact reproduction for the Library's latest staff blog. 

Read blog
Upcoming Events
Tuesday 9 June, 3-4pm
PhD and a Virtual Cup of Tea: The Central British Fund Community and the (Re)formation of adolescent Jewish identities

The Library's first virtual PhD and a Cup of Tea event with Emily Smith, who will be presenting her research on The Central British Fund and the complexities surrounding child migration.

This event is designed for early-career researchers and PhD candidates.

Thursday 11 June, 7-8pm
Virtual Book Talk: School Photos in Liquid Time

Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer reveal how their new book explores classroom photographs, from clandestine images of Jewish children in Nazi ghettos to Japanese American children in camps.

“We were forced by dire necessity to send our child abroad..."
The experiences of Kindertransportees and their parents: evidence from the archives of The Wiener Holocaust Library

Using collections from the Library's archives Dr Barbara Warnock and Annabel Cohen have detailed the experiences of eleven Kindertransportees in Britain and of their parents left behind in Europe.

This moving article, which explores the themes of family separation and of lives cut short, is now available to read online for free.

Read full article
Homophobia in the Nazi Camps

"...but for me, one central aspect is to present a queer perspective on Holocaust history as well as to give those victims, who were unheard in the post-war narrative of the Holocaust, a voice." 

PhD student Uta Rautenberg has written the latest volunteer blog for the Library. This interesting new article examines homophobia in the Nazi concentration and prison camp system.

Read blog
The Wiener Holocaust Library Blog

Why not check out the Library's blog? Read staff articles, past book reviews, guest posts and more. 

Library Blog
The Wiener Holocaust Library on YouTube
View all

Did you know that the Library has a YouTube channel? While in lockdown why don't you have a browse through some of the Library's past events? Including book talks, curator talks and more.

Digging for Victory: Refugees in the Pioneer Corps in WW2

In this talk, Helen Fry talks about the 10,000 Jewish refugees who fought for Britain during the war. Their legacy remains largely unrecognised by the nation, including their vital work in denazification at the end of the war.

Watch in full
Fate Unknown: Survivor Talk with Leslie Kleinman

This talk featured Mr Leslie Kleinman, who spoke about his experiences during the Holocaust and his story of survival and learning about the fate of his family after the war.

Watch in full
Justice and accountability in Sudan - 1 year on from the Khartoum massacre

On Wednesday 3 June our friends at Waging Peace are hosting a discussion on what justice and accountability mean for Sudan and its displaced peoples one year on from the atrocity of the Khartoum massacre and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Discussions will be held between survivors, representatives from the UK's Sudanese community, policy-makers, and legal and human rights practitioners. 

Register here
The 'Roma Stories' Oral History Project - website launched

The Roma Support Group have launched a new Roma Oral History website where you can find interview extracts and introductory information and learning materials for primary schools. 

We recommend you have a look through this important new resource.

The Anne Frank Creative Writing Awards 2020

“When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived!”
-Anne Frank, aged 14 (5 April 1944).

In this time of lock-down, when people are separated from each other, the Anne Frank Trust UK invites you to write a poem, story, essay or article inspired by Anne Frank which shows how important it is that we all live together with kindness, respect and equality.

-Open to young people aged between 10 and 15 years old. 

-Closing date Tuesday 30 June 2020.

-Prizes include a trip to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

Find out more
The Wiener Holocaust Library

The Wiener Holocaust Library
29 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DP
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7636 7247

Registered charity number 313015

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