Expanded Wiener Library tells Holocaust story
Family historians tracing the experiences of ancestors caught up in the Holocaust may be able to learn more following the relocation of an extensive London library
A collection of more than two million documents, photos and artefacts chronicling people’s experiences during the Holocaust is now available to explore following the reopening of an major archive in London.
The Wiener Library, which reopened in a new centre in Russell Square in December, features the world’s oldest archive recording the impact of the Nazi regime during the Second World War. As well as improved access to the library’s collections, which document a broad range of subjects including the stories of Jewish exiles to the UK and the lives of people in Europe, the building also features climate-controlled record storage and space for events and exhibitions. Many of the resources are also available to explore online on the library’s website at www.wienerlibrary.co.uk.
The relocation, which has taken nearly five years to complete, has been made possible thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and funding from several international sources. The move marks the establishment of the library’s fourth headquarters since it was founded in 1933 by Alfred Wiener, a German-Jewish refugee who fled to Amsterdam after Hitler’s rise to power.
“The Wiener Library has always been open free of charge to anyone who wants to use it, and now that we have improved reader facilities and greater space to accommodate visitors, we hope that many more people will come and use our unique materials,” says library director Ben Barkow. “Given the library’s enormous collection of family records and other papers, it is a natural place for family researchers interested in our period to begin their search.”
Genealogists may also be able to take their research further thanks to events being held around the UK throughout the start of 2012 to mark Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) on 27 January. For more details about the talks, workshops and services being held in your area, visit the HMD website.
“The Wiener Library’s reopening means that vast archives of recent Jewish history are now more accessible to those researching life in Germany and Eastern Europe before, during and after the Second World War,” says Lorna Kay from the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. “This is it not a library in the conventional sense as it also includes documents, photographs, memorabilia and even children’s games produced by German companies to promote the Nazi ideas. The importance of this organisation cannot be exaggerated and the records are amongst the best in the world for this era.”