Testaments to the Holocaust

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The Wiener Library is the world's oldest Holocaust memorial institution, tracing its history back to 1933. Alfred Wiener, a leading figure in the Central Verein, Germany's largest Jewish civil rights organization, had campaigned against the Nazis since the early 1920s before fleeing his homeland in 1933. In Amsterdam he established the Jewish Central Information Office which, after its transfer to London in 1939, became known as "Dr. Wiener's Library" and later as the Wiener Library.

Post-war, the Library contributed to the success of the Nuremberg War Crime Trial and later the Eichmann Trial. It assembled the first major collection of testimonies on Jewish life under the Nazis. Through its publications, it played a significant part in the creation of the academic field of Holocaust Studies.

"The Library's collection of Eyewitness Accounts has long been recognized by historians as a uniquely valuable resource, offering insights into almost every aspect of the Holocaust. These documents are of particular interest in that they were assembled during the 1950s and early 1960s, an era when interest in the Holocaust was at a low and when terms such as 'Holocaust' and 'Shoah' had either not been coined at all or were not in general use.

"The Wiener Library publications cover a time span from the early 1930s to the mid 1960s. It follows that much of the material reports on events in Germany and Europe as they were unfolding. This early material also testifies to Jewish efforts to resist the onslaught of the Nazis.

"Taken together, the materials assembled in Testaments to the Holocaust provide the basis for studying Nazi Germany and its crimes against the Jews from any number of perspectives. It does not offer answers but rather a wealth of raw materials for students to explore and work with in their effort to reach their own conclusions.