Please note that entrance to the Library is permitted only to those who have pre-booked appointments in the Wolfson Reading Room or the exhibition space. We will continue to ask all visitors to wear a face covering and to observe social distancing whilst in the building.
We continue to closely monitor the situation with respect to the ongoing 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.
We look forward to welcoming you back to the Library soon!
2 August 2021
A joint statement by René Cassin and The Wiener Holocaust Library on Roma and Sinti Genocide Memorial Day
Today we remember the persecution and genocide of Roma and Sinti communities at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators. We mourn the loss of up to 500,000 people who were murdered or died of starvation or disease in concentration camps. We remember the many more imprisoned, enslaved, and forced into sterilisation and medical experiments.
Pictured: Margarete Kraus, a Czech Roma who survived imprisonment and forced medical experiments, photographed by Reimar Gilsenbach after the Second World War.
It was on this day, 2 August 1944, that 2,897 Roma and Sinti were massacred in the Auschwitz gas chambers, and it is on this same today in 2021 that we stand together and refuse to forget the past, as we refuse to ignore the demands of the present. As laws which marginalise Gypsies and Travellers and stigmatise migrants and asylum seekers make their way through the UK Parliament, we refuse to forget what can arise from the stoking of hatred, fear, and division.
A report by Dr Max Benjamin of the liquidation of the Gypsy Camp in Auschwitz, 2 August 1944.
An eyewitness account by Hermine Horvath, a Roma woman from Austria.
In response to these horrors was born the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which aimed to guarantee safety for those on the margins and to ensure a life founded on principles of fairness and equality. It is our responsibility to continue to safeguard these values today in protecting the rights of Romani, Gypsies, Travellers, and refugees.
As organisations that remember Jews who were dispossessed of citizenship, denied access to work and education and targeted by centuries of race discrimination, we refuse to forget. As believers in social justice and bearers of the legacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we refuse to forget. As human beings, worthy of dignity, love, tolerance, and respect, we refuse to forget.
Today we stand together with our Romani, Gypsy, and Traveller friends. As one we mourn their loss and hope for a reality which dignifies us all.
Entagled Histories: Jewish and Roma and Sinti victims of the Death Marches
This blog examines the case of Karl Franz, a German Sinto man who likely died on a death march in the last days of the Second World War.
Karl Franz’s case illuminates intersections between the history of Jewish and Roma persecution and the ways in which that persecution is documented in archives. Researched and written by Death Marches: Evidence and Memory co-curators Dr Christine Schmidt and Professor Dan Stone.
Among the bodies recovered from a grave in Neunburg vorm Wald was that of Karl Franz, who was deported to Auschwitz and then to Buchenwald as a "work shy Gypsy". His daughter wrote to the International Tracing Service in 1959 to enquire if her father might still be alive but correspondence suggests that due to anti-Roma prejudice she was never told about her father's body being likely identified.
In this short video (above), Professor Dan Stone talks about the exhumation report that describes a wallet found on the body believed to be that of Karl Franz, which held photographs of his wife and children.
Last few weeks at the Library
Death Marches: Evidence and Memory
The Library's current exhibition, which uncovers how forensic and other evidence about the death marches has been gathered since the end of the Holocaust, closes on Friday 27 August 2021.
Make sure you book your slot to learn more about how researchers and others have attempted to recover the death march routes - and those who did not survive them.
Trude Levi: The After-effects of the Death Marches and “Liberation”
In this blog, co-curators of the Library's Death Marches exhibition, Dr Christine Schmidt and Professor Dan Stone, examine several accounts given by Hungarian Holocaust survivor and former Library staff member Trude Levi.
Due to popular demand, the Library’s Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust exhibition will be returning for a limited run from 1 to 17 September. We are pleased to be displaying this important exhibition for those who may have missed it due to the pandemic. For this limited run, there will be no pre-booking.
During the Holocaust, Jewish men and women resisted the Nazis and their collaborators whenever they had the opportunity, in dangerous and even impossible circumstances.
Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust draws upon the Library’s unique archival collections to tell the story of the Jewish men and women who, as the Holocaust unfolded around them and at great risk to themselves, resisted the Nazis and their collaborators.
Check out the video below for a sneak peek at some of the incredible stories we highlight.
Collection of the month
Gerty Simon's subjects in London
To mark Gerty Simon's birthday this month and to celebrate the exhibition of her work now on display in Berlin, Senior Curator at The Wiener Holocaust Library, Dr Barbara Warnock, explores the personalities that the German-Jewish artist photographed in her London studio.
In the autumn of 1933, Gerty Simon arrived in London as an exile from Berlin. She appears to have come to London equipped to re-establish her career rapidly: she travelled with press clippings about her previous shows and examples of her work. She set up a studio in London, and remarkably, within a year of her arrival, staged her first show of photographic portraits.
In London, Simon’s subjects represented a remarkable cross-section of leading figures in Britain’s interconnected artistic, theatrical, political and social worlds. As in Berlin, Simon photographed at least as many women as men, and, in London, she also photographed other exiles from Nazi Germany, some of whom she had personal connections with, such as gallerist Alfred Flechtheim, who curated her second London show, and the actress Lotte Lenya.
Pictured below: Paul Nash, Aneurin Bevan, Constance Cummings and Lotte Lenya.
On show at The Wiener Holocaust Library for a limited run from 21 September - 30 September 2021.
Marking a century since the influential Second International Eugenics Congress was organised at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, this new exhibition explores the history and legacies of eugenics.
Neues Volk, 1 March 1936, p. 37. Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.
A century later, we invite visitors to engage with the legacies of eugenics across time and space and to reflect on what eugenics means for us today. This remains a sensitive and emotional issue for many people, not least because for so long eugenics has reinforced discriminatory practices based on race, class, gender, disability and age.
In the current coronavirus pandemic crisis, we need to review how myriad assumptions and attitudes rooted in eugenics continue to affect our world in ways both obvious and hidden.
We are pleased to announce the publication of ‘What is Genocide?’, a new section on the Library’s online educational resource The Holocaust Explained which explores the origins of the term and the different stages of genocide.
This new educational section gives an overview of several other genocides throughout history, including in Namibia, Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and Darfur.
This identity card (pictured), which is featured in the article examining the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, was issued to a Tutsi woman prior to the genocide on 15 November 1993. Courtesy of the Genocide Archive of Rwanda.
Virtual Book Talk: Dance on the Razor’s Edge: Crime and Punishment in the Nazi Ghettos
Svenja Bethke will be led in conversation by Zoë Waxman in this virtual talk to discuss her new book, Dance on the Razor's Edge, which explores crime and punishment in the Nazi ghettos established in Eastern Europe during the Second World War.
As part of the Library's Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust event series, Judy Batalion will be discussing her acclaimed new book, The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos.
Launch Event: “We are not alone”: Legacies of Eugenics
Join us to mark the launch of a new travelling exhibition, "We are not alone": Legacies of Eugenics, which explores the history and legacies of eugenics, a hundred years on from the influential Second International Eugenics Congress.
This will mark one of the first in-person events at the Library in 2021 and, as such, we will only be offering a limited number of tickets.
Virtual Talk: Manfred Goldberg: My Death March Experience
For the final event in our Death Marches exhibition series, we were joined by Holocaust survivor Manfred Goldberg BEM who shared his experiences of his own death march journey and liberation, led in conversation with Professor Dan Stone.
As part of the Death Marches exhibition events series, this virtual panel of speakers discussed the different ways of commemorating the death marches, including pilgrimages, memorials at former Nazi camps and other sites of significance, and artistic and photographic responses to such sites.
To mark the publication of the acclaimed book The Lost Café Schindler, author Meriel Schindler and Lord Daniel Finkelstein discussed her new book and project to uncover the history of her father and her family.
Virtual Panel: Reckonings and Forced Confrontations after the Holocaust
As part of the Library's Death Marches exhibition events series. In this panel discussion, our speakers explored the disintegration of the camps system; ‘forced confrontations’ between Allied militaries and the German civilian population; post-war trials of perpetrators involved in the death marches; and the lives of Holocaust survivors in the aftermath of liberation.
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.
Becoming a member is a powerful way you can support us in working towards our wider mission. In return, you can enjoy our exclusive member benefits and know that you are playing a significant role in the future success of the Library.