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 will 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 please do email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 636 7247.
The safety and wellbeing of 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.
We look forward to welcoming you back soon!
A statement from the Library's Director on the recent attack on the US Capitol
We were appalled to witness Trump supporters attacking the US Congress this week. Though these events were shocking, they were sadly predictable. The President of the United States not only failed to stop the violence but urged his followers on. We welcome the suspension of Donald Trump from Facebook, and we would encourage other platforms to take decisive action against incitement to violence online.
Look out for the Library's upcoming events and exhibitions this year, as we draw on the historical record to gain further insights into the fight against fascism and antisemitism.
The Fatherland and the Jews - Two pamphlets by Alfred Wiener, 1919 and 1924
We are delighted to announce the publication of the inaugural title in a collaboration between the Library and Granta Books.
These two pamphlets, Prelude to Pogroms? Facts for the Thoughtful and German Judaism in Political, Economic and Cultural Terms mark the first time that Dr Alfred Wiener, the founder of the Library, has been published in English.
Together they offer a vital insight into the antisemitic onslaught Germany’s Jews were subjected to as the Nazi Party rose to power, and introduce a sharp and sympathetic thinker and speaker to a contemporary audience. Tackling issues such as the planned rise of antisemitism and the scapegoating of minorities, these pamphlets speak as urgently to the contemporary moment as they provide a window on to the past.
Thursday 21 January 2021
To mark this important publication the Library and JW3 will be hosting a panel event with Alfred Wiener’s grandson, Daniel Finkelstein, Professor Jean Seaton and Professor Michael Berkowitz.
We hope that you can join us for what will be an interesting discussion considering what we can learn from the past – particularly the still-urgent issue of the rise of antisemitism.
Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 with special guest, Sir Keir Starmer
Holocaust Memorial Day is the day for everyone to remember the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.
The Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 theme asks us to Be the Light in the Darkness. The Wiener Holocaust Library wishes to take this opportunity to draw attention to the incredible testimonies of survivors in our collections. This year's theme 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 are delighted to announce that the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition and local MP for Holborn and St Pancras, Sir Keir Starmer, will be joining The Wiener Holocaust Library for an online event to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day 2021. The event will feature readings and reflections drawn from the Library's collections.
The event will begin at 12pm on Friday 21 January 2021.
A musical evening in the Łódź Ghetto, 1940-1943. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.
New digital resource launching January 2021
We are delighted to announce that The Wiener Holocaust Library’s new digital resource, Testifying to the Truth, will shortly be freely accessible online. 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.
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.
“We all have a duty to fulfil towards our past.”
In the 1950s, Dr Eva Reichmann (pictured right), the Library’s Director of Research, embarked on an ambitious effort to collect eyewitness accounts from those who had lived through the Holocaust. Over the course of seven years, this initiative resulted in the gathering of more than 1,300 written reports in seven different languages.
The launch of the first 380 translated and digitised accounts will see the work started by Dr Reichmann in 1945 made fully accessible to the public. The rest of the 1,185 testimonies will be released later this year
Thursday 28 January, 6-7pm
Virtual Launch Event & Panel Discussion
Join us on Thursday 28 January at 6pm to celebrate the launch of Testifying to the Truth.
Chaired by Dr Toby Simpson, the Director of The Wiener Holocaust Library, the panellists will discuss the history of the collection, the context of early Holocaust testimonies, the significance of the collection for scholarship, and the project of translation:
Sharon Kangisser-Cohen, Director at Eli and Diana Zborwoski Centre for the Study of the Aftermath of the Holocaust and Editor, Yad Vashem Studies.
Mark Roseman, Distinguished Professor of History, Pat M Glazer Chair in Jewish Studies, Adjunct Professor in Germanic Studies. Indiana University.
Christine Schmidt, Deputy Director and Head of Research, Wiener Holocaust Library.
President of the Library honoured in Queen's New Year Honours List
We are delighted that Anthony Spiro, Joint President of The Wiener Holocaust Library and Trustee of the Association of Jewish Refugees, has been awarded an OBE for voluntary services to Holocaust Remembrance.
Anthony, who has been Joint President of the Library of since 2018 and was Chair from 2004 to 2018, said, “I am enormously honoured to receive this award, which I dedicate to the memory of my parents, Anna and Ludwig Spiro, who fled Germany to make a new life in the United Kingdom. They took an active role as volunteers at The Wiener Holocaust Library and The Association of Jewish Refugees. I am proud to have followed their example. The Wiener and the AJR are independent charities yet their work overlaps and they are both particularly relevant today. The Library is the world's oldest institution for the study of antisemitism and the crimes of Nazi Germany, while the AJR provides comfort, friendship, social care and financial support to its refugee membership.”
Dr Toby Simpson, Director of The Wiener Holocaust Library said, “Anthony's contribution to the Library over the years has been immense and we continue to benefit from his sure, steady guidance. In particular, he was instrumental in the move to our new home in Russell Square, which has been transformative for our collections and the people we serve."
My placement at The Wiener Holocaust Library
By Kate Docking
Kate Docking is a PhD candidate at the University of Kent. Her research explores the female doctors and nurses who worked at Ravensbrück concentration camp during the Third Reich.
From the start of September to the end of November 2020, I undertook a part-time placement at the Wiener Holocaust Library (WHL) which was generously funded by the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE). CHASE is a doctoral training partnership offering Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) PhD studentships to fifty-six students a year at nine universities in the south-east of England. As a CHASE funded student, I was offered the opportunity to undertake work placements that would develop my skills beyond academia.
For my first placement, I worked on a brilliant audiobook project about the history of sitting down with public historian Greg Jenner and Testbed Productions. I wanted to work at The Wiener Holocaust Library for my second placement as I was keen to learn about the processes involved in curating exhibitions relating to the Holocaust. I also wanted to find out about other elements of the Library’s important work: for example, archiving, digitisation, and public events. I contacted Dr Christine Schmidt, Deputy Director and Head of Research at the Library, about the possibility of a placement there. Christine was happy for the placement to go ahead and wrote an excellent work plan for the time I would spend at the Library.
A map depicting the evacuation of Flossenbürg concentration camp. ITS Archive, Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.
I spent most of the placement working on an exhibition entitled Death Marches: Evidence and Memory, which will be displayed at the Library in January 2021. The death marches occurred at the end of the Second World War and entailed the forced evacuation of thousands of prisoners from concentration camps across Nazi-occupied Europe under terrible conditions. The exhibition is co-curated by Christine from the Library and Professor Dan Stone from Royal Holloway. I conducted research for the exhibition, scouring a variety of different digital archives for relevant photographs we could use. I also used the International Tracing Service archive, which the Library has digital access to, in order to procure images and other documentation for the exhibition.
To glean the first-hand experiences of those on death marches, I read memoirs and archived documents stored at the Library and utilised Testifying to the Truth, a website developed by the Library which contains over a thousand eyewitness testimonies from Holocaust survivors. Documentation and images were also provided by the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre (HELC) in Huddersfield.
Iby Knill survived a death march from Auschwitz-Birkenau to Bergen-Belsen. She was liberated by the American army on Easter Sunday in 1945. Holocaust Education and Learning Centre.
I also wrote a panel for the exhibition, which discussed the lack of post-war justice that was meted out to the perpetrators of the death marches, developing my ability to write in an accessible and clear manner for a broader audience.
Friedrich Teply was a concentration camp guard who led prisoners evacuated from Mittelbau-Dora and Hannover-Stöcken concentration camps to a barn near the town of Gardelegen in Germany. The barn was set on fire, and over 1,000 inmates burnt to death. Teply was a witness in the Dora-Nordhausen trial, held between August and December 1947, but he never faced prosecution for his role in the Gardelegen massacre. Source: Stiftung Gedenkstätten Buchenwald und Mittelbau-Dora. This photograph originates from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). See RG 549, Box 479.
The placement not only provided me with a deep insight into the process of researching and writing an exhibition but also enabled me to learn about the other intricacies involved in curating. I met with designers, contacted archivists regarding permission to use photos, and discussed key themes of the exhibition with Christine and Dan. Seeing the result of our work in the first exhibition proofs felt so rewarding: the designers had done an amazing job, and I am really looking forward to seeing this important exhibition on the walls of The Wiener Holocaust Library. Death Marches: Evidence and Memory will also be displayed at the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre in Huddersfield in February 2021.
The Library provided a supportive and welcoming environment. While I mostly worked remotely due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft Teams enabled me to connect with colleagues, and everyone was so helpful in answering my questions. The placement I undertook at the Library ultimately gave me an excellent, detailed insight into curating an exhibition and left me with valuable curatorial skills that will doubtlessly be useful both inside and outside of academia. I would like to thank Dr Christine Schmidt for facilitating the placement, and for all her support. I am very grateful to the Library for having me. I would also like to thank CHASE for funding the placement, which was so beneficial to me both professionally and personally.
Volunteer translator at The Wiener Holocaust Library
I had been working as a volunteer translator for The Wiener Holocaust Library for nearly ten years when in March 2018 I came to a talk introduced by Dr Helena Duffy, then of the Holocaust Research Centre at Royal Holloway, University of London. She introduced Arnaud Rykner, French author and academic, who spoke about his short novel, Le Wagon. Some discussion followed, including around the choice of a suitable English title for the book – but it transpired that, although it had won the Jean d’Heurs prize for historical fiction upon its original publication, it had not yet been translated into English. After chatting to Helena, I found myself volunteering to take this on!
The novel is an imagined memoir based on a true and horrifying event, the transport of over 2,000 men – including a relative of Arnaud’s – from Compiègne to Dachau in July 1944, packed in goods wagons in blazing heat and appalling conditions, during which a quarter of them perished. One of the last convoys of deportees, the train took three days to reach its destination, our narrator describing, as he approaches his 22nd birthday, the struggle to survive despite the heat, the lack of food, water, sanitation and adequate air. This harrowing story is at once a chronicle of a true hell and a compelling meditation on survival and human resilience.
Having completed my translation, I then faced the challenge of finding a publisher – which eventually I did with Arnaud’s help. Snuggly Books, based in the USA, accepted the MS and found this image for the cover, based on a woodcut done in 1936 by Otto Freundlich, who died in Majdanek concentration camp in 1943. The Last Train was released in paperback in October 2020 and is priced at £11.50.
A Virtual Talk: New works on British Colonial Violence
This event marks the recent publication of two important contributions to our understanding of violence committed in the British Empire. These works challenge traditional understandings of the extent of colonial violence and the process of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire.
A 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.
The Library's Senior Curator and Head of Education, Dr Barbara Warnock, is delighted to be taking part in Harrow Libraries Holocaust Memorial Day event for 2021.
Dr Warnock will explore some of the themes of our recent exhibition on Jewish resistance to the Holocaust. She will look at the range and diversity of Jewish resistance across Europe and tell the stories of some of those who resisted in these most difficult of circumstances.
The Lord Mayor of Leeds will open Leeds city's civic remembrance event, which this year will be shown online from 2pm on Sunday 24 January on this webpage due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
The theme for the 2021 event is ‘be the light in the darkness’ and there will be a keynote speech by Dr Alessandro Bucci, Co-director of the Holocaust Learning & Exhibition Centre, University of Huddersfield, and Ben Barkow, Chair of the Holocaust Survivors' Friendship Association and former Director of The Wiener Holocaust Library.
The event includes a virtual reading of WH Auden’s poem Refugee Blues by young people from Carriageworks Young Theatre Makers, the Breeze Arts Foundation at Leeds Playhouse, Opera North Youth Chorus and Pyramid. For further details about these groups, please see below.
There will be a reading of the seven statements of commitments with candle lighting, by representatives of different groups persecuted including Holocaust survivors, people with additional needs, the LGBT+ community and Remembering Srebrenica. The event closes with a traditional Hebrew memorial prayer sung by the President of Bradford Synagogue, Rudi Leavor, BEM.
There will be an opportunity to light a candle at the end of the ceremony, so please have one ready if you would like to do this.
This online event will include British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters and will be available to watch from 2pm on Sunday 24 January to 11.59pm on Wednesday 27 January.
In November 1945, a group of over 200 orphaned child Holocaust survivors were brought to the UK from various DP camps across Germany after losing all of their families in the Holocaust. They came to the UK as part of an urgent initiative organised by the Central British Fund, now known as World Jewish Relief. They were the second group of children to come to the UK to start new lives as part of this initiative - there were four groups in total, numbering over 700 children, who became known as 'The Boys', although there were 180 girls included.
They were able to recuperate and recover from their experiences and start new lives in the UK. The group that came in November 1945 became known as the 'Southampton Boys' and November 2020 was the 75th anniversary of their arrival at Wintershill Hall in Southampton, where they stayed when they first arrived.
In 1963, the Boys formed the '45 Aid Society, a charity dedicated to raising funds for Holocaust survivors, giving back to the community that had welcomed them and teaching the lessons of the Holocaust through an education programme giving talks in schools about their experiences.
In November 2020, the '45 Aid Society created this short 20-minute film to mark the arrival of the Southampton Boys in the UK and to tell their stories of how they were able to rebuild their lives here in the UK.
The historian Niko Rollmann is researching the history of the Club 1943 for a future publication. Please contact him if you were a member and/or have old programs, photos or other relevant documents: email@example.com
Club 1943 was a much-loved forum for cultural and political discussion for predominantly Jewish refugees founded in 1943. A prominent and distinguished feature of the refugee community in Britain for 69 years, and its weekly meetings, held for many years at Belsize Square Synagogue, attracted a host of eminent speakers as well as a loyal audience.