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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
Racheli Kreisberg: My Grandfather Simon Wiesenthal: A Family Story to be Told

Monday, 11. January 2016, 18:30 - 20:00

Jüdisches Museum Wien, Dorotheergasse 11, 1010 Wien


After his liberation from Mauthausen, Simon Wiesenthal, my late grandfather, was reunited with his wife Cyla Muller. They realised all too soon that all 89 of their relatives had been murdered. This is the notion we grew up with: “we have no family”. Over the years, I made multiple attempts to ask my grandparents about their family, but my notes remained almost empty. Upon the passing of Simon Wiesenthal, I renewed my efforts to explore our family roots and analysed personal letters and tombstones, as well as communicating with people sharing the name Wiesenthal and, most importantly, genealogy pals.

This lecture focuses on the discovery of Simon Wiesenthal’s ancestors and their families. This is a search which in turn led to the establishment of a huge and robust family tree now shared with the public in various databases and a story to tell to all those who are interested in the man who dedicated his life to bringing Nazi criminals and their collaborators to justice.

Welcome Address: Andreas Mailath-Pokorny Danielle Spera
Moderation: Béla Rásky

Racheli Kreisberg, PhD, is a scientist by training in the field of biotechnology and bioinformatics and manager of IBEXPERTS Ltd. She is also a genealogist who reconstructs family trees with a special focus on records from the Yad Vashem database of Holocaust victims. She is the granddaughter of Simon Wiesenthal and has dedicated considerable time and effort to commemorating her grandfather. On the occasion of his tenth Yahrzeit, Keren Kayemet LeIsrael, the Jewish National Fund, inaugurated the Simon Wiesenthal Path in the Forest of Martyrs.


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


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