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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
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett: Rising from the Rubble. Creating the Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Thursday, 12. June 2014, 18:30 - 20:00

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


The Grand Opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews will take place on 28 October 2014 in Warsaw. The museum, which faces the Monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes, completes the memorial complex. At the monument, the memory of those who died is honoured by remembering how they died. In the museum, they are honoured by remembering how they lived.

At the heart of the museum is its multimedia narrative exhibition, which presents the thousand year history of Polish Jews. That history is today an untold story, a story broken by the Holocaust, but with a legacy that lives on.

This lecture will go behind the scenes to show how the museum and its core exhibition evolved from an initial idea in 1993 to become one of the most important museums of Jewish history in the world. The museum and its core exhibition aspire to be an agent of transformation by transmitting the rich civilization of Polish Jews to future generations, by creating a trusted zone for engaging with difficult issues, and by being a bridge across time, people, and continents.

 The lecture will be introduced and moderated by Danielle Spera, Director of the Jewish Museum Vienna.

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, distinguished University Professor at New York University, is Programme Director of the Core Exhibition at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which is on the site of the former Warsaw ghetto and pre-war Jewish neighbourhood. Her books include Image before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland, 1864–1939 (with Lucjan Dobroszycki); and They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust, which she co-authored with her father Mayer Kirshenblatt.

She was honoured with the award for lifetime achievement by the Foundation for Jewish Culture. She currently serves on Advisory Boards for the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Jewish Museum Vienna, and the New Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow.

140526 Einladung Lecture 34 Kirshenblatt web

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The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is funded by:


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