Over the years I have visited other libraries in Hendon, Cambridge and Reading but recently I visited the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide (http://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/) which is in Russell Square.
The Wiener Library’s present location is the culmination of the work begun by Dr Alfred Wiener (1885-1964), a German Jew, in the 1920s in Berlin. At first he was involved with the work of the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith to combat anti-Semitism through writing, lobbying and speaking publically. After Hitler published Mein Kampf in 1925 Dr Wiener perceived that the greatest threat came from the Nazi Party. An archive about the Nazi’s was collected to help campaigns against their work.
In 1933 Dr Wiener fled to Amsterdam and the first archive is believed to have been destroyed. He set up the Jewish Central Information Office at the request of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Anglo-Jewish association.
After the November Pogrom of 1938 Dr Wiener prepared to bring his collection to the UK and did so in 1939. During the Second World War the Jewish Central Information Office provided information to the British Government and became known as ‘Dr Wiener’s Library’ which led to its renaming
Post-war aid was given to the prosecutors at the Nuremburg Trials and early Holocaust Survivor testimonies were collected. This work helped to shape the emerging academic study of the Holocaust.
The Library moved to its current premises in Russell Square in 2011. It was interesting learning about some of the problems of trying to adapt a listed Georgian building to meet the needs of a modern library and archive. Luckily a lift could be installed because it could be located in a newer addition to the original building. Heritage Lottery Funding has helped to open the collections to the widest possible audience.
The collection is a very eclectic one including, amongst other material, books, journals, pamphlets, tourist board brochures about tours of concentration camp sites, written and recorded testimony of peoples’ experiences of the November 1938 Pogrom and the concentration camps and even games.
The Wiener Library supports the work of the UCL IOE Centre for Holocaust Education www.holocausteducation.org.uk. There are picture books, novels and non-fiction books in our Curriculum Resource Collections about the Holocaust and other examples of genocide. In the Main Education Collection there are books about the teaching of the Holocaust. ( For example Teaching the Holocaust : practical approaches for ages 11-18 .Gray, Michael )