Testaments to the Holocaust. Documents of the Wiener Library

The Wiener Library in London is the world's oldest Holocaust memorial institution. It documents the history of the Nazi movement, crimes against the Jewish people, and the history of European Jewry. OSA holds the Wiener Library’s microfilmed library materials, thematic press cuttings, biographical files, photographic collection, personal reports and interviews in a copy of the collection “Testaments to the Holocaust: Documents of The Wiener Library (London) on microfilm.”

Finding aids prepared by and used with kind permission of Primary Source Media:

  • Series 1: Archives of the Wiener Library, London . Materials are grouped into: Propaganda Materials; Eyewitness Accounts; Wiener Library Publications; and Photographs. | PDF

  • Series 2: Thematic Press Cuttings Collection, 1933-1945 . Materials are grouped into: Germany, 1933-1939; Countries outside Germany, 1933-1939; The Jews in Nazi Germany, 1933-1939; Nazi Germany, 1933-1939; Wartime Period 1939-1945; and Jews in World War II. | PDF

  • Series 3: Henriques Archive . This collection comprises the working papers of Rose Henriques from 1945 to 1950, and offers extraordinary insights into the life of Jewish Holocaust survivors and their first steps back into life and community. | PDF

Alfred Wiener, founder of the Library

The library was named after his founder, Alfred Wiener, who was a German Jew. He was born in Potsdam in 1885,  studied Arabic language and literature, got his doctorate in Arabic literature. He  lived and travelled for three years in the Middle East. He served as an officer in the first world war, and was decorated with the Iron Cross, 2 nd  class. He joined the largest Jewish civil rights organization, within a few years he had risen to a very high position and was involved in formulating its policy. He had no doubts that the greatest danger was from the National socialists under Hitler.

In 1928 he set up an office to collect all available information about the Nazi Party, its leaders and activities. The office was called Büro Wilhelmstrasse, after the main street in Berlin's government district. They collected newspapers, journals, pamphlets, leaflets, ephemeral material produced by or related to the Nazis. They used the collection as the basis for campaigns against the Nazis.

With Hitler's accession to power in January 1933, the Büro was closed down. For Wiener, this was a personal crisis, he suffered a sort of nervous collapse. He moved with his family to Amsterdam, set up another office, the Jewish Central Information Office, with the same task. By 1939 it became clear that their days in Amsterdam were numbered. He went to London, moved the office and its papers there. 

It was opened on 1 September, 1939 the very same day the Second World War broke out.

His family and several members of the staff remained in Amsterdam, after the German invasion they were arrested and deported to Bergen-Belsen. His colleagues died there, his wife and children were freed in a prisoner exchange, but his wife was so weakened that she died after crossing the border to Switzerland.

During the war the Office in London supplied information to government departments, the Ministry of Information, the intelligence services and the BBC. They issued two periodicals, The Nazis at War and Jewish News. After the war the office was renamed after its founder. They assisted the prosecution of war criminals at Nurenberg. 40,000 prosecution documents were donated by the Nuremberg International War Crimes Tribunal. The Library helped individuals with restitution claims. (For many years the Library had a lawyer on its staff.) In the 50s-60s, it also collected eyewitness accounts about the Holocaust. Alfred Wiener died in 1964. His Library serves as a research and documentation center.

Recommended literature: Ben Barkow, Alfred Wiener and the Making of the Holocaust Library. London, 1997. OSA Library call number: Ref. 026/.940318.092 ALF