Report: “London’s Wiener Library is the World’s Oldest Holocaust Archive. It’s Still Collecting Material.”
From the JTA Article:
There are two sketches of Philipp Manes, a leading early-20th-century German-Jewish businessman, in the notebooks that he kept with him during his two-year imprisonment at the Theresienstadt transit camp.
Both are drawn shortly before Manes was deported to Auschwitz in October 1944, and could not be more different. One portrait shows Manes as an old man with tired eyes and sagging skin. The other models him as a heroic Goethe-like figure, with an accompanying dedication that describes him as “the cultural pioneer of Theresienstadt.”
That’s because during the difficult years that Manes spent at Theresienstadt, he became the fulcrum of an unlikely cultural flowering of dozens of Jewish intellectuals. Manes hosted over 500 lectures, plays, and musical performances, bringing together many of Europe’s best and brightest Jews for brief moments of normalcy in the ghetto.
His notebooks, which offer rare insight into lived Holocaust life, are just some of the over one million documents held in London’s Wiener Library, the world’s oldest Holocaust archive.
Founded as the Jewish Central Information Office in 1933, which itself grew out of an earlier bureau that Alfred Wiener had operated in 1920s Berlin, the institute was established to monitor German antisemitism. Much of the collection was gathered before and during the Holocaust.
The thousands of newspapers, pamphlets, photos, and other documents that were compiled speak to what the researchers and refugees who staffed the institute felt was important to keep, without the benefit of hindsight that characterizes many other Holocaust collections.
Increasingly, however, the library has sought to become a center for both educating about the Holocaust and warning about antisemitism, genocide and fascism.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.