The Wiener Library

For the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide

80th Anniversary of the Wiener Library

In 2013, the Wiener Library celebrated its 80th anniversary year. To commemorate this important event, the Library published an anniversary photo book, In Celebration of the 80th Anniversary of The Wiener Library November, 2013. This small book, currently on sale at the Library for £5, features a photo series by Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design.

Below are the contents of this book, including images and descriptions of significant items from our collections selected by Library staff and volunteers for this project.

Dedication of the Book

This book is dedicated to Ernst and Thilde Fraenkel, in honour of their both having celebrated their 90th birthday in the year The Wiener Library turned 80. Ernst Fraenkel OBE was Chairman of The Wiener Library from 1990 to 2003 and is currently its Joint President with Alan Montefiore.

Since publication of the book, Ernst Fraenkel OBE has passed away. He will be greatly missed.

Foreword by Mirjam Finkelstein

Mirjam Finkelstein

© Nadav Kander

Eighty years ago a man made the decision to take a stand against hate and to gather together one of the most important collections of evidence documenting the attempted destruction of the Jewish people in Europe. This man was my father, Dr Alfred Wiener.

He was a man of courage and tenacity. He was a loving father with a gentle humour and a true scholar. His books filled the house but he would go out with a little brown suitcase to the book shops. His taxi returned and we heaved a sigh of relief when he only had the little suitcase. However a few minutes later another taxi would arrive filled with books! His knowledge of books was such that, in the fullness of time, they found their way into new and destroyed University libraries around the world, as well as this Library of course.

This wonderful photograph book is the product of many years of hard work collecting and conserving The Wiener Library’s incredible collections. Whilst we hear the numbers of 70,000 books or 17,000 photo-graphs, this book features some of the most important and fascinating individual documents and photographs within the collection. The current staff and volunteers give compelling details and moving personal thoughts about each of their selected items. My father would be surprised and deeply gratified at the success of his life’s work and proud of his mission and legacy being fulfilled at The Wiener Library today.

Mirjam Finkelstein

0:00 - VOR POGROMEN? BY ALFRED WIENER, 1919

VOR POGROMEN? BY ALFRED WIENER, 1919

© Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design

Ben Barkow, Director

What moves me about this little pamphlet, entitled ‘Vor Pogromen?’ (Prelude to Pogroms?), is that it is the first publication of Dr Alfred Wiener, the founder of The Wiener Library. He wrote it just a year after returning to Germany from serving in the First World War.

His perception about what was building up in post-war Germany is acute and his opening words, “A mighty antisemitic flood has broken over our heads…”, are chilling. The ‘flood’ of course turned out to be incomparably more mighty and catastrophic than Wiener could possibly have known at this time. The pamphlet describes the spread of Jew-hatred throughout German society, the rhetoric employed by antisemites and the early impact of the flood. Wiener concludes by pleading with right-thinking German citizens to serve their Fatherland by rejecting and fighting the antisemitism.

Looking back in knowledge of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust, the mixture of Wiener’s clear-sightedness, coupled with his perhaps naïve patriotism, optimism, determination and sheer human decency are poignant. He was to pay a high price for his beliefs and principles but he left a truly remarkable legacy.

1:00 - RED CROSS TELEGRAM FROM ALICE REDLICH TO HER FAMILY, 1942

RED CROSS TELEGRAM FROM ALICE REDLICH TO HER FAMILY, 1942

© Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design

Katy Jackson, Community and Outreach Officer

I take many different groups of people on tours of The Wiener Library archives and it is fascinating to see their reactions when I’m telling the stories of real people affected by the Holocaust.

Alice Redlich was born in Berlin in 1920. At age 18 she travelled to London to begin training as a children’s nurse. The only way she could stay in contact with her family once the war started was through Red Cross telegrams. I always ask visitors to think about how difficult it would be to be restricted to contacting your loved ones once every three months. Despite the 25-word limit, these telegrams must have brought relief and hope to Alice’s family and to Alice herself. In 1943 Alice joined the Jewish Relief Unit and in 1946 she was posted to Bergen-Belsen to help rehabilitate child refugees. Whilst working there she learned her entire family had perished.

Exploring such a challenging history through one life story makes it more accessible to people today. It also shows that hope and life still existed after the trauma of the Holocaust: Alice married a camp survivor and moved to America where she lives today amongst her extended family. She donated her collection to the Library in 1994.

2:00 - SELECTED POEMS AND PROSE OF PAUL CELAN, TRANSLATED BY JOHN FELSTINER, 2001

SELECTED POEMS AND PROSE OF PAUL CELAN, TRANSLATED BY JOHN FELSTINER, 2001

© Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design

Eleonora Pennini, Acquisitions Librarian

I’ve always been deeply touched by Paul Celan’s poetry, in particular by his master- piece Todesfuge (Death Fugue).

Through his powerful use of the German language, Celan gives a voice to the Jewish tragedy and evokes overwhelming images of the darkest time in European history. For me Todesfuge is an incredibly poignant expression of the Holocaust, an answer to the question of how poetry can be written after Auschwitz.

This volume presents a broad selection of Celan’s poems and prose, beautifully translated into English by John Felstiner. It is a must-read for anyone who wishes to come closer to one of the most fascinating and enigmatic post-war poets.

3:00 - MAX FOKSCHANERâ??S WAHLZERTIFIKAT, 1911

MAX FOKSCHANERS WAHLZERTIFIKAT, 1911

© Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design

Howard Falksohn, Archivist

Today, the Jewish population in certain parts of Europe approaches and in some cases exceeds pre-Holocaust levels. In other parts, little trace remains of once thriving Jewish communities. This is the case in Chernivtsi in South-western Ukraine, known as Czernowitz under Austrian rule and Cernauti during Romanian rule.

The Wiener Library holds one collection related to the city. It is a rare survival and the last extant documentary trace of a formerly successful German-speaking Jewish family who were forced to leave the region of Bukovina. They managed to escape to Palestine via Istanbul as late as 1941, thereby avoiding extermination, the fate suffered by most of the Jews of this region.

This document is an authenticated German translation of Max Fokschaner’s Wahlzertifikat, dated 1911, which entitled him to vote in the Bukovina parliament as an MP. For me it encapsulates the peak of Jewish accomplishment in that region.

4:00 - ANTI-NAZI PUBLICATION DISGUISED AS A TRAVEL BROCHURE, 1938

ANTI-NAZI PUBLICATION DISGUISED AS A TRAVEL BROCHURE, 1938

© Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design

Miriam Haardt, Deputy Senior Librarian and Cataloguer

I am fascinated by The Wiener Library’s collection of Tarnschriften. These ingenious camouflaged writings are often very imaginative in their disguises and prove that a German resistance existed. Even if their impact was low, to me these illegal anti-Nazi publications are a symbol of hope.

This appeal ‘An alle Deutschen’ (To all Germans) was published in exile in 1938 and smuggled into the Third Reich disguised as a travel brochure for the Black Forest. The famous German writer Heinrich Mann lent his name to the pamphlet to make people aware that the Nazis’ policies will lead to another world war if they let it happen. Mann asks the Germans to be courageous in a struggle for freedom and to resist violence, not to follow a Führer but only their own conscience.

5:00 - SEARCHING FOR FAMILY IN THE INTERNATIONAL TRACING SERVICE ARCHIVE

SEARCHING FOR FAMILY IN THE INTERNATIONAL TRACING SERVICE ARCHIVE

© Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design

Dr Christine Schmidt, International Tracing Service Archive Researcher

I manage access to The Wiener Library’s digital copy of the International Tracing Service archive, which comprises over 100 million pages of Second World War-era documentation, so it is easy for me to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the Holocaust and its aftermath.

As a historian, I look for thematic connections and broader context for these documents. At the same time, individual fates revealed by the archive, including those of my extended family members, remind me of the persistent weight of historical events on families and multiple generations of descendants.

Magda Bedo, my distant relative, was among 750 Hungarian Jewish women deported from Auschwitz-Birkenau via Bergen-Belsen to a Buchenwald subcamp in Duderstadt. There they were forced to work under abject conditions in a munitions factory. Magda then survived a forced march to Theresienstadt, where she was liberated. Her documents help me understand broader historical change anchored by the fate of one woman – and millions more like her.

6:00 - PRESS CUTTING FOR DR HANS POPPER

PRESS CUTTING FOR DR HANS POPPER

© Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design

David Wirth, Press Cuttings Volunteer

As I archive newspaper cuttings about the lives of the many famous Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, I am constantly struck by the sheer number who put their wartime experiences behind them to achieve highly in their particular fields, be this in the arts, sciences, medicine or technology.

For every recognisable name such as Roman Polanski or André Previn (I’m currently working on the letter P), there are over fifty lesser-known high achievers. I have come across Dr Hans Popper, who made discoveries regarding liver disease, and Edith Porada, a leader in the field of ancient Middle East art.

These cuttings amount to a huge archive, recording these survivors’ contributions to the post-war world. And for each prominent survivor whose story enters the archives, there are many more survivors who led quiet unrecorded lives, simply putting the horrors of their past behind them, pursuing their careers and bringing up families.

7:00 - DER PUDELMOPSDACKELPINSCHER BY ERNST HIEMER, 1940

DER PUDELMOPSDACKELPINSCHER BY ERNST HIEMER, 1940

© Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design

Dr Toby Simpson, Learning and Engagement Manager

The Wiener Library’s re-opening in December 2011 with its first exhibition was a tremendously exciting moment. It was a great privilege to curate it and see so many members of the public come to learn more.

Our first exhibition showed items from our remarkable collection of Nazi propaganda for children. It included this book ‘Der Pudelmopsdackelpinscher’ by Ernst Hiemer. One challenge was to translate this extremely long German word: roughly, Poodle-Pug-Sausage-Pinscher. But how to convey the horrible message contained within these seemingly innocent, colourful covers?

Though not as explicitly antisemitic as Hiemer’s better known children’s book ‘Der Giftpilz’ (The Poisonous Mushroom), this book aimed to foster racism by implicitly comparing Jews and other supposedly ‘inferior’ races to animals, pests and vermin. There is nowhere better than The Wiener Library to display these fascinating but disturbing items, since its very existence serves as a reminder of the worst consequences of fear, contempt and dehumanisation.

8:00 - CONTRACT FOR HOUSE PURCHASE IN PRAGUE, 1787

CONTRACT FOR HOUSE PURCHASE IN PRAGUE, 1787

© Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design

Marianne Maxwell, Volunteer

This is a house contract signed by one of my relatives, Wolf Zappert, for the purchase of the first Jewish house outside of the ghetto in Prague.

Wolf Zappert had a successful business as a jeweller in Prague and was a well known philanthropist who had helped many local communities. In the 1780s, he wrote to the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and asked permission to establish a house outside of the Jewish ghetto in order to conduct his business more efficiently. Thanks to his excellent reputation, the Emperor agreed and Wolf Zappert became the first Jew to live outside the Prague ghetto. He was a bit cheeky, though, and built his new house directly next door to the Týn Church in Prague’s Old Town Square.

When I found out that The Wiener Library was looking for documents related to Jewish history before the Second World War, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to have my family papers safely stored for posterity. They are now the oldest collection at the Library. I am grateful the Library has taken these remarkable documents and in thanks I am now a regular volunteer.

9:00 - MISTRESS AND MAID: GENERAL INFORMATION FOR THE USE OF DOMESTIC REFUGEES AND THEIR EMPLOYERS, DOMESTIC BUREAU, CENTRAL OFFICE FOR REFUGEES, LONDON, 1940

MISTRESS AND MAID: GENERAL INFORMATION FOR THE USE OF DOMESTIC REFUGEES AND THEIR EMPLOYERS, DOMESTIC BUREAU, CENTRAL OFFICE FOR REFUGEES, LONDON, 1940

© Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design

Kat Hubschmann, Senior Librarian

When European refugees arrived in Britain around the time of the Second World War, many ended up living or working in English households. This pamphlet provided well-meaning advice for refugee maids hoping to bridge the cultural divide between British and continental household customs.

Some of the advice is practical: “English houses are often colder than continental ones, and you must expect to guard against the cold by wearing thick underclothes and woollen indoor coats.” In other instances, the pamphlet reveals the mysteries and nuances of English communication. “You will notice that the mistress usually states her requirements in the form of a request,” warns the pamphlet, but “this should be carried out at once as an order.”

Refugees were also reminded to behave in a proper manner, so they would be suitably assimilated. For instance, “in this country it is good manners to speak and walk quietly, both in the house and in the street and public places.” For me, this pamphlet illustrates the everyday refugee experience of being different in a country that values conformity.

10:00 - PHILIPP MANES DIARIES, 1942-44

PHILIPP MANES DIARIES, 1942-44

© Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design

Klaus Leist, Volunteer

I have been reading and summarising German documents at The Wiener Library for many years. The Philipp Manes diaries were given to me, as many documents are, with simply the request “Please read this and tell us what it’s about.”

All we knew at the time was that these were the diaries and reports of Philipp Manes, an inmate of Terezin. Once I started reading, it slowly dawned on me that this was a tremendous collection. It not only revealed something about life in Terezin but also recorded some 500 lectures from eminent Jewish scholars, actors, poets and scientists in Terezin, many of whom contributed entries in the diaries. Manes organised these talks in an attempt to help his fellow inmates keep their spirits up while living under truly miserable conditions. In a way, I think it helped him do the same.

The extraordinary undertaking documented in the Philipp Manes diaries were an unexpected revelation. Over the next ten years, Ben Barkow and I went through the 1,000 hand-written pages and eventually published the edited diaries in German and English. They are truly one of The Wiener Library’s great collections and it was a fascinating experience for me, personally, to be able to help bring them to a wider audience.

11:00 - NURSE WITH CHILD AT Łódź GHETTO, TAKEN BETWEEN 1940 AND 1942

NURSE WITH CHILD AT Łódź GHETTO, TAKEN BETWEEN 1940 AND 1942

© Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design

Marek Jaros, Photo Archivist

This picture is part of The Wiener Library’s collection of 43 photographs from the ?ódz ghetto. The photographer Mendel Grossman clandestinely distributed many of his prints amongst fellow inmates.

Photos like the one I chose appear to suggest that the ghetto provided its inmates with sufficient care, which was anything but the case. However, these pictures served another purpose, as internal communication among inmates and, I believe, as a means of communal self-affirmation.

For me, the pictures thus represent – like the fruit trees some occupants planted in the ghetto – their hope of survival. They strived to counter the visual slander of Nazi propaganda by realising images of themselves as dignified human beings.

The Wiener Library received this collection from Helen Aronson, née Chmura in 1976. She was given them for safe-keeping by Mendel Grossman who was a friend of hers. She survived the Holocaust and was able to immigrate to the UK post-war.

12:00 - DRAWING BY DARFURI REFUGEE BOY, 2007

DRAWING BY DARFURI REFUGEE BOY, 2007

© Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design

Sara Bradshaw, Jessica Benham and Zoe Christodoulou, Aegis Trust Volunteers

As Aegis Student volunteers, we had only one week to research, develop, and display an exhibition at The Wiener Library that “makes the past speak to the present”.

When we heard about the collection of drawings done by child refugees held at London-based organisation Waging Peace, we knew they would be a powerful addition to our exhibition that focused on the plights of both Holocaust and contemporary refugees.

This particular drawing was done by an eleven-year-old Darfuri boy who was asked to illustrate his strongest memory. It portrays the Janjaweed and Sudanese forces that had attacked his village three years prior. This drawing and 500 similar ones were accepted by the International Criminal Court as evidence of the atrocities committed in Darfur.

Note from the Photographers

With such an incredible collection gathered by The Wiener Library during its 80 year history we were asked how best to represent this within a photo book. We didn’t want to simply select from the thousands of objects based on their visual appeal in a photograph. Instead we wanted the photographs to tell a story and show a personal view of the collection.

In asking staff and volunteers connected with The Wiener Library to select an item that is significant to them, we succeeded in being presented with material that is meaningful to those who know the library well.

These diaries, books, pamphlets, photographs, newspaper cuttings and documents are accompanied by stories that give an insight into both the chosen object and the individual choosing it.

We were interested in the idea that this archive of objects is about people, both those whose lives are represented within the collection and those who work to collect, preserve and display the material within it.

Moving through the book, the hands turn, mimicking a clock, with each person presenting their selection. This motif represents time, both in terms of the 80th anniversary of The Wiener Library and the fact that, though time passes, these historic events and stories continue to hold relevance today.

Ali Mobasser, Russell Weekes & Marianne Noble Photography, Art Direction & Design