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

Dear Subscriber,

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

This month we share news of the Library and the ongoing COVID-19 situation; we are highlighting The Holocaust Explained's free educational resources for children and the Library's digital resources available for users whilst at home; a vignette from the archives by our Senior Archivist 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

Closure Notice

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.

The Wiener Holocaust Library's Digital Resources

In line with government and NHS advice, The Wiener Holocaust Library recently closed to the public. However, we are dedicated to ensuring that our vast collection of materials remains as accessible as possible. This new blog article highlights a few of our digital resources that we invite you to explore.

Read blog
The Wiener Holocaust Library Blog

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

Library Blog
Educational Resources: Childhood in Nazi Germany

Are you looking for lessons or activities on the Holocaust, Nazism or the Third Reich that children can do from home? We have three brand new educational resources on the newly relaunched The Holocaust Explained. The resources have been designed for British schoolchildren aged between 13-18, with the GCSE and A-Level curriculum in mind. They include downloadable primary sources, worksheets, a glossary, contextual information and teaching guidance.

Find out more
A vignette from The Wiener Holocaust Library archives – Bydown House

By Howard Falksohn, Senior Archivist

Bydown House. Jews of North Devon by Helen Fry, Halsgrove, 2005

In 1939, one hundred Jewish adolescent strangers were wrenched from their families and, too young to appreciate the ultimate sacrifice which their parents were making (in most cases never to be reunited again), were thrust together in a manor house in a remote part of the Devonshire countryside. Within this disparate agglomeration were teenagers hailing variously from the mean streets of 2nd district, Vienna; well-heeled Bohemians from Prague and Teplice – replete with trunks containing riding boots and silk shirts – and middle-class Berliners. 

They were nominally represented by an array of Jewish youth groups ranging from Hashomer Hazair to Haboni, with no knowledge of British life and unable to speak English. They were, for the most part, left to their own devices with minimal supervision and given no formal education. But many were forced to work as cheap labour for local farmers, under the pretext that they were being given agricultural training for when they would emigrate to Palestine. For most, however, this opportunity would never materialise.

Welcome to Bydown House, the stately Georgian pile in deepest, darkest Devon. The Jewish Refugee Committee in Bloomsbury took over this empty, part derelict building in late 1939 to house nearly one hundred refugee youngsters from Central Europe with the intention of preparing them for kibbutz life in Palestine. Amongst them, there were at least 20 youths who came on Sir Nicholas Winton’s trains. In reality, whilst some of the youth leaders made it to Palestine, most of the residents never got there.

The Wiener Holocaust Library holds a collection of papers, formerly in the possession of one of the youth leaders, Fred Dunston (Fritz Deutsch), which documents some of the organisational issues, but more importantly, contains material produced by some of the residents themselves.

Lack of funding; poor communication between the head office in London and the centre in Devon; inadequate organisation; hurried selection; absence of preparation and training all contributed to what was ultimately a doomed project. As a result, the centre was closed down after about 18 months and the residents were either selected to go to other centres or started to live independently in London and elsewhere.

Life-long friendships were forged at Bydown and some of the staff were remembered with great affection. Fridolin Moritz Max Friedmann (1897-1976), director of Bydown and a renowned educationalist, had been headteacher of the progressive school Landschulheim Caputh in Brandenburg, until the Nazis removed him from his post. He had a reputation for being very dedicated and greatly concerned for his charges. He would go on to teach at Bunce Court school from 1946-1948. Likewise, one of the youth leaders, Eric Lucas (1915-1996), was much loved for the ways in which he was able to relate to them and was described as a great raconteur. Lucas managed to get to Palestine in the summer of 1945.

Ultimately, whilst the project may not have been regarded wholly as a success, it did manage to provide a safe haven for one hundred young refugees, many of whom would have gone on to have their own children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. Thousands of descendants saved from the Nazi extermination machine. No mean achievement.

The Wiener Holocaust Library is hiring!

We are seeking an experienced Project Officer to join the Library on an eighteen-month contract starting on 1 July 2020, to support the ongoing digitalization and research of the Library’s uncatalogued collections of Jewish refugee family papers. For someone with an interest in modern history and archive collections, this is an opportunity to help develop one of Britain’s foremost archives of document collections relating to the Holocaust. Deadline for all applications is Friday 8 May 2020

We are also seeking a Finance Officer to provide financial and administrative support to the Board of Trustees and Director of The Wiener Holocaust Library. This is a permanent, part-time role (40%, flexible). Deadline for all applications is Friday 17 April 2020.

More information
The Wiener Holocaust Library's New Donations - Register of Jewish Survivors. Vol I & II

The latest addition to the Collection is an incredible two-volume set that contains nearly 120,000 names of Holocaust survivors. Pinkas Hanitzolim, Register of Jewish Survivors, was published by The Search Bureau for Missing relatives of the Jewish Agency in 1945. It is a primary resource for relatives, family historians, and researchers.

Learn more
Berlin/London: The Lost Photographs of Gerty Simon

Gerty Simon was a German-Jewish photographer renowned in the 1920s and 1930s for her portraits of important political and artistic figures in Weimar Berlin and interwar London.

Online Exhibition
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.

Book Talk: Michael Rosen - 'So They Call You Pisher!'

On 11 October 2018, writer and broadcaster, Michael Rosen presented his memoir, So They Call You Pisher! at the Library. 

Watch in full
Book Talk: Professor Thomas Weber - 'Becoming Hitler – The Making of a Nazi'

On 5 February 2018, Professor Thomas Weber spoke about his new book, Becoming Hitler – The Making of a Nazi.      

Watch in full
Jewish Museum London Live!

Bringing the collection to you, Jewish Museum London Live enables you to experience the museum from home! Participate in live streams - including talks on significant objects in the museum collection, a Shabbat Shalom quiz of the week and an arts and crafts session for all the family! Plus, discover additional resources to explore the museum from home on the Jewish Museum London’s learning portal and online collection.

Find out more
EHRI Online Resources

Working from home? Looking for informative and interesting things to fill your time? Our friends over at the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure have some great free online resources available. Take a look below:

Online Courses

Document Blog


Early Holocaust Testimony

We are delighted that EHRI has received new funding from the Research and Innovation Programme, Horizon2020, to sustain and further develop its main resources and services. Already in the process of transforming from a project into a permanent body for international Holocaust research with this new funding EHRI can now maintain can maintain and expand its successful resources, such as the fellowships, training activities and the EHRI Portal.

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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