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Simon Wiesenthal Lectures


The Simon Wiesenthal Lecture series has been held in collaboration with the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DÖW) and the Institute of Contemporary History at the University of Vienna since 2007, when the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) was still being established. As an important aspect of the task of education on recent academic insights in the fields of Holocaust research and genocide studies, the lecture series has developed into the VWI's education flagship.


The lectures take place every six to eight weeks, with renowned scholars presenting the most recent research insights on the Holocaust to a professional audience as well as a broader public. They showcase the impressive spectrum of this discipline, its numerous questions and issues ranging from empirical-analytical historiography to topics of cultural scholarship, and involve young scholars as well as established academics.


The Austrian State Archive as our co-operation partner has since June 2010 provided us with the perfect location for our lectures: the rooftop foyer of the “Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv” at Minoritenplatz in Vienna. This location at the rear façade of the Federal Chancellery of the Republic of Austria is symbolic of the reappraisal of the Holocaust in Austria: After all, this history had been marginalised for decades, just like its immediate historical antecedent, Austrian antisemitism, was cut out of history, its appraisal shoved aside for victims and their descendants to deal with. This has only changed in recent times. The Shoah has simultaneously been moving ever closer to the centre of Austrian historical awareness. It has slowly emerged from the repressed periphery and out of the realm of taboo and silence and into the focus of understanding of Austria’s most recent history. Thus, the Simon Wiesenthal Lectures are held at a place that represents the symbolic and real centre of the Republic and is at the same time also an instance of this turn in the Austrian perception of its own history.



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Simon Wiesenthal Lecture
Randolph L. Braham: Hungary: The Controversial Chapter of the Holocaust

Thursday, 13. October 2011, 18:30

Dachfoyer des Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchivs, Minoritenplatz 1, 1010 Wien


The destruction of Hungarian Jewry on the eve of the allied victory – when the secrets of Auschwitz were already known to the leaders of the world, including the national and Jewish leaders of Hungary – constitutes a puzzle in the general history of the Holocaust. Professor Braham will attempt to identify and analyse the major parts of the puzzle, which when placed together will reveal the reasons why this unthinkable and unforeseen catastrophe became a reality.

The lecture will focus, among other issues, on the historical roots of the calculations and miscalculations (in some cases outright illusions) of the wartime leaders of Germany and Hungary in pursuit of their particular political and military-strategic objectives as well as the strategies of the Jewish (traditional and Zionist) leaders of Hungary and Slovakia in attempting to ensure the possible survival of their respective communities.

Dr. Randolph L. Brahamis Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science at The City College and the Doctoral Program at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he also serves as Director of the Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies. He is a special- ist in comparative politics and is a recognized authority on the Holocaust, author or editor of 61 books, co-authored and contributed chapters to 49 others. Some of his works were used as major source books by courts of law in various countries, including Canada, Germany, Israel, and the United States in cases involving restitution and war crimes. His two-volume The Poli- tics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary, published by Columbia University Press (1981), has been reviewed and praised all over the world as a “monumental” and “definitive” empirical work. In 1981, it was selected for the Jewish National Book award (USA). In November 1995, he was awarded the Order of Merit Officer’s Cross of the Republic of Hungary.

Professor Braham has participated in many national and international conferences, served as guest lecturer in many institutions of higher learning in Israel, Europe, and North America, and appeared on a variety of radio and television programs as a commentator or panellist. His life story is the subject of a documentary produced by the Hungarian Duna-TV in November 2003.


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