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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
!!! CANCELLED !!! Joanna Tokarska-Bakir: The Figure of the Bloodsucker in Polish Religious, National and Left-Wing Discourse, 1945-1946

Thursday, 26. November 2015, 18:30 - 20:00

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


The lecture will consider the metaphor of the ‘Jewish Bloodsucker’, widely disseminated in 20th-century Central and Eastern Europe. This archetypal metaphor, activated by critical situations, recalls the sorcerer-vampire who penetrates into the community and deprives it of its life substance, leaving only empty shells. Its role in shaping the imagination of Poles in the first two years after the Second World War is difficult to overrate. The figure of the bloodsucker revealed its murderous potential in the wave of pogroms that swept across the country in 1945 and 1946, incited by rumours of Jewish ritual murders. The genealogy of the figure of the bloodsucker and its role in shaping the imagination of Polish people in the first two years after the Second World War will be presented in terms of religious, national and left-wing political discourse.

Joanna Tokarska-Bakir is a cultural anthropologist, religious studies scholar, and professor at the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences at Warsaw. She specialises in the anthropology of violence and is the author of, among other publications, a monograph on blood libel, Légendes du sang. Une anthropologie du préjugé antisémite en Europe, Paris 2015. As a holder of the Marie Curie Gerda Henkel Fellowship (2013 – 2015), she has most recently been working on a project on post-war anti-Jewish pogroms in Eastern Europe at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), Princeton, NJ.


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


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