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The Future of Memory – Museum Simon Wiesenthal

 

1010 Vienna
Rabensteig 3
Open weekdays from 10am to 6pm
Free entry
Group registration under
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Opening hours

 

Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 18:00
(closed on holidays)


 

A small museum in the VWI building at Rabensteig 3, 1010 Vienna, commemorates the life of Simon Wiesenthal, his legacy, his work – and thus constitutes the foundation of the scholarly, documentary, and educational work of the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI). As a survivor, Wiesenthal dedicated his life under enormous psychological pressures and despite many enmities to the investigation of Nazi crimes, the search for the perpetrators, and the struggle against forgetting.

 

The first room shows a short film of Lemberg in 1939, which played an important role for the young Simon Wiesenthal as he lived here with his wife Cyle and worked there as an architect before becoming caught up in the Nazi machine. These are the last moving records of Jewish Lemberg before its annihilation, which was surely one of many reasons for his later work.

 

Four objects – a magnifying glass, an address book, a gun holster, and the nameplate of the “Association of Jewish Victims of the Nazi Regime” – refer to his fastidious efforts, his networks, the dangerous environment, and the site of his activity respectively. Photographs present him reading or on the telephone as a researcher and communicator who knew how to intervene with phone calls, letters, and resolutions, who organised and published. A reproduction of the map from his office also hangs here, depicting the concentration and extermination camps and revealing the extent of the annihilation.

 

The second room is dedicated to the philosophy and selected cases of Wiesenthal, who always spoke of his dual responsibility: toward the victims, for whom he wanted to be a voice, and toward the coming generations, who must be enlightened. Film extracts reveal his thinking, offer insights into the conflicts which burdened his life in Austria, and show his telegenic demeanour and strong charisma. A touchscreen about Nazi criminals also provides information on the sluggish post-war justice in Austria and a public that ranged from indifferent to hostile.

 

The final room displays the perspectives on Simon Wiesenthal that were polarised until the 1980s: on the one hand the ones that through video sequences depict his contested image in an Austria that did not wish to confront its past, and on the other hand the ones that depict a personality revered and respected throughout the world. The mission statement of the Institute in itself reflects the change of heart among wide parts of Austrian society, and moreover refers to the activities of the Institute. The issue emerging here is “The Future of Memory”. A reading corner with publications of and about Wiesenthal, an installation on the events of the VWI, and a showcase with an “Object of the Quarter” from the VWI archive are all tied into an atrium which connects the various parts of the building, and thus the various tasks of the VWI – research, documentation, dissemination.

 

Further personal effects of Simon Wiesenthal can be found throughout the publicly accessible spaces of the house, symbolising that his spirit, his creative energy, his vigour, his fastidiousness, his aspirations, and his sense of justice remain the driving forces of his Institute.

 

Curators: Werner Michael Schwarz, Susanne Winkler
Curatorial Assistance: Sandro Fasching
Design: Alexander Kubik
Cabinet Construction: Wolfgang Ute
Graphics: David Schuller
Video Editing: Patrick Spanbauer, On Screen
Touchscreen Assembly & Software Development: Helmut Heiland
Media Technology: Günther Baronyai-Schiebeck, cat-x
Production: Béla Rásky
Translation: Tim Corbett

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