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Simon Wiesenthal Lectures


The Simon Wiesenthal lecture series takes place regularly every six to eight weeks and aims to present the latest research findings on the Holocaust to both a professional and a broader audience. They take into account the impressive spectrum of this discipline, the numerous questions and issues from empirical-analytical historiography to topics of cultural studies and involve young scholars as well as established academics.


Since 2007, when the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) was still being established, the lecture series – at that time in cooperation with the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DÖW) and the Institute of Contemporary History at the University of Vienna– has developed into the flagship of the VWI's outreach activities as a supporting element in the communication of recent academic findings in the field of Holocaust research and Holocaust and genocide studies.


For over a decade, the Austrian State Archives generously offered shelter to the Simon Wiesenthal Lectures in the roof foyer of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv. During the challenging years of the pandemic, the lectures were held online. From autumn 2022, in order to reach out to further audiences, a new cooperation partner was found in the Wien Museum. Until the reopening of the main location at Karlsplatz, the SWL will take place at MUSA, Felderstraße 6-8, next to the Vienna City Hall.



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Simon Wiesenthal Lecture
Pierre Birnbaum: A Political Myth: Léon Blum

Thursday, 19. February 2015, 18:30 - 20:00

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


In his lecture, Pierre Birnbaum demonstrates how Léon Blum's (1872-1950) Jewishness was central to his milieu and mission from his earliest entry into the political arena in reaction to the infamous Dreyfus Affair, and how it sustained and motivated him throughout the remainder of his life. As Prime Minister of France, he wrote many times that he was proud to be a Jew, at the time courageously facing a violent antisemitic movement. Furthermore, from the turn of the twentieth century he showed a deep interest in Zionism, became a close friend of Chaim Weizmann, and beginning in the thirties continuously helped him with the creation of the State of Israel, thus showing for the first time in history that it was possible for a Jew to be at the head of the French State while remaining dedicated to the faith of the Jewish people.

 Chair: Martina Steer (Department of History, University of Vienna)

Pierre Birnbaumis a professor emeritus at the University Paris 1. He wrote several books on the theory of the state and also on the French state seen as a crucial variable in Jewish comparative history like The Jews of the Republic, Stanford 1996 and – together with I. Katznelson – Paths for emancipation, Princeton 1996. He also wrote several books on political antisemitism as a reaction against the involvement of Jews in the State like The Anti-Semitic Moment: A Tour of France in 1898, New York. 2003. Recently, he published a book on La république et le cochon [The Republic and Pork], Paris 2013, on the relation between republican universalism and Kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws. His forthcoming books are Sur un nouveau moment antisémite. Jour de colère. Paris 2015 and Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist and Zionist. Yale 2015.


150120 Einladung Lecture 38 Birnbaum WEB


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


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