The Wiener Library, described as the world’s largest, most important and most comprehensive source of information on anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and fascism, has been moved from London to Tel Aviv University.
The collection, which has been referred to as a chamber of horrors, was established in Amsterdam in 1933 by Dr. Alfred Wiener, a German Jewish scholar who early on recognized the dangers of the rising Nazi Party and began to devote himself to documenting its practices.
Wiener moved it in 1939 to London, where it opened on the very day World War II broke out. During the war the library, which he continued to head, was extensively used by the British intelligence services as a major source for information about German affairs and by the British Broadcasting Corporation for its counter-propaganda services.
After the war, the library was expanded by the addition of eye-witness accounts of Nazi atrocities, transcripts of the Nuremberg and Eichmann war crimes trials, and documents from the gestapo and Nazi Party archives.
Wiener died in 1964. Since then the library which bears his name has been headed by Prof Walter Laqueur, who divides his time between London and Tel Aviv, where he is on the faculty of the Tel Aviv University.
INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THE LIBRARY
The library contains over 60,000 books, reference works, pamphlets and periodicals, one million newspaper clippings, 1500 eye-witness accounts of Nazi persecution from diaries, unpublished memoires and interviews, 40,000 documents relating to the Nuremberg trials and the Eichmann trial, literature on the various publications and editions of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” dossiers on war criminals, and some 5,000 documents relating to the Jewish question from the records of the gestapo, the chancellery of the Nazi Party, and the German foreign office.
It also comprises up-to-date material on modern manifestations of anti-Semitism, including material published by Arab propaganda offices.
The Wiener Library, which is continually being expanded by the addition of new current material and older documents now being discovered, is a major source of information for all scholars doing research on the Nazi period and anti-Semitism.
A complete copy of the collection remains in London, on microfilm. During his lifetime Wiener made frequent efforts to have the library transferred to Israel. The move was finally made possible by a donation from an undisclosed benefactor.
CHILDRENS’ GAMES INCLUDED
The collection includes a number of childrens games widely sold during the Nazi period. One of them, entitled “Juden Raus” (Jews Out), is in the form of the children’s game of snakes and ladders, or the modern game of monopoly, in which pawns depicting Jews in medieval hats and clothes were to be moved about a board until they were finally expelled with the note: “Go to Palestine.” In reverse, the child player was told: “If you are the first to expel six Jews, you are the undoubted victor.”
Addressing a ceremony last week marking the Wiener Library transfer to Israel, Tel Aviv University rector Yaram Dinstein described it as “one of the most important collections now housed in the University.” He said: “We now have the most important tool for research into anti-Semitism and the Nazis. The only collection approaching it is the German Institute for Contemporary History in Munich.”
Prof. Soul Friedlander, of Tel Aviv University, said: “the Weiner Library can help us prove to the world that there is a clear and direct connection between anti-Semitism in the past and anti-Semitism today.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.