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Institute Profile

 

During the last years of his life, Simon Wiesenthal was particularly eager to make his personal archive, which had grown out of his many years of work, accessible to research. He wanted the documents to form the basis for further research with new questions in the context of an academic institute, and thereby wanted the spirit of his work to be preserved in a time when both the perpetrators and the victims of the Nazi era will have died.

 

In the year 2000, when Simon Wiesenthal was still alive, several renowned Viennese academic institutions and the Jewish Community of Vienna (IKG) initiated the establishment of an international centre for research into the Holocaust. Simon Wiesenthal still had the opportunity to personally contribute to the design of the resulting “Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies” before his death in September 2005. The institute was intended, in accordance with the spirit of his life’s work, to be dedicated to research, documentation, and education on all issues relating to antisemitism, racism, and the Holocaust, while remaining above all open to new and innovative developments in relevant areas of research. It was finally decided in 2008 that the Republic of Austria and the City of Vienna would finance the three-year foundation phase of the institute on the basis of a detailed plan of working stages together with the Jewish Community (IKG) and the supporting organisation of the Simon Wiesenthal archive, the Association of Jewish Victims of the Nazi Regime.

 

The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is active in three central fields. Its documentation activity centres on its collections, the Holocaust-related parts of the IKG archive, which are on loan to the institute, and the estate of Simon Wiesenthal with its extensive holdings on Nazi perpetrators, as well as the VWI library. On the basis of these collections, which are either owned by or accessible at the institute, the VWI conducts its research activities in the form of projects and the initiation of publications.

 

The fellowship programme is central to research at the VWI. It builds on the recommendations, suggestions, and initiatives made by the International Academic Board both in content and concept and in the selection of the fellows. The programme is flexible and open to the free research scene, and engages in intensive and on-going exchange with researchers in other institutions, thus ensuring constant scholarly innovation and consideration of new questions and innovative methods.

 

Education is the VWI’s third pillar. This aspect reflects the institute’s dedication to the central idea of the European enlightenment: the education of responsible adults based on the transfer of knowledge. Scholarly lectures and events are designed to encourage the broad public into confronting antisemitism, racism, the Holocaust, and genocide via the presentation of important research results on these subjects. However, it is also important to develop, expand, and test new, even experimental concepts: The VWI also stages exhibitions and artistic installations, initiates interventions in the public sphere, and is developing new internet projects and putting new teaching methods and teaching aids up for discussion in the context of scholarly discussions.

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