The Wiener Library

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The Wiener Library's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from The Wiener Library is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.wienerlibrary.co.uk

THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
46 | THE WIENER LIBRARY
Director Ben Barkow
The Wiener Library moved to its current
premises at 29 Russell Square in 2011
The Wiener Library is the world’s oldest institution created
to document and offer resistance to the Nazi persecution
of Jews. Founded in Amsterdam in 1933, when Dr Alfred
Wiener fled his homeland once the Nazis had come to power,
it relocated to London in the summer of 1939, days before
the Second World War broke out. Today, it is the UK’s largest
Holocaust-related repository and has one of the world’s finest
collections of books, documents, photographs, digital material
and eyewitness testimony relating to the period. It also actively
engages with the wider question of genocide in the 20th
century. Director Ben Barkow explains more.
One hundred years ago Dr Alfred Wiener, a patriotic German and Jew, looked
at the political scene in his homeland and decided to issue a warning. He did so
in a small pamphlet entitled
Prelude to Pogroms?
in which he alerted his fellow
citizens that if they did not resist far-right anti-Semitism, the consequences for the
nation would be extremely severe. “Anti-Semitic rabble-rousing,” he wrote, “is
the precursor of anarchy,” and will lead to “the blood of citizens flowing in the
streets”. Dr Wiener was an extraordinarily far-sighted commentator, as we know
only too well today. His declaration marked the beginning of his life’s work, and
the beginning of the mission pursued by the Wiener Library.
Continuing Wiener’s work
The Wiener Library, in common with the whole field of Holocaust education and
commemoration, faces three fundamental challenges. Firstly, and perhaps forming
the most severe existential challenge, is the fact that the generation of Holocaust
FACTS ABOUT
THE WIENER LIBRARY
»Director: Ben Barkow
»Founded in 1933
»Based in London
»Services: Library, archives,
events and exhibitions
»No. of employees: 19
The Wiener Library
47THE WIENER LIBRARY |
DIGITAL, CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT
survivors is now rapidly passing away,
severing the direct connection of these
events with living memory. Despite
some well-documented limitations and
problems inherent in survivor testimony,
it is natural that those who witnessed
the genocide first-hand and lived to
tell the tale have been accorded an
extraordinary degree of moral authority.
Indeed, it is hard for anyone wishing to
deny the Holocaust to come up against
someone who can say: “I was there,
I saw this for myself.” We have relied
heavily on the survivors and now face
something akin to a crisis of how to
educate people in theirabsence.
At the same time, anti-Semitism,
Holocaust denial and relativisation are
sharply on the rise, both in the UK
and around the world. This is quite
possibly not coincidental. The fading
away of living memory has opened
up a space for denial – for saying the
Holocaust didn’t happen at all or, more
commonly, that it didn’t happen in the
way that has been taught for the last
generation or so.
And finally, the field of Holocaust
research, education and commemoration
is fragmented, with numerous small
competing organisations, with many
disagreements about what constitutes
good Holocaust commemoration
andeducation.
With the passing of survivors, an
important issue is to work to ensure
that Holocaust education and
commemoration are properly supported.
Can survivors be replaced by some
form of digital surrogate? Can the
children of the survivors take up the
mantle of their parents? Or do we
need to re-think Holocaust education
more fundamentally? The view at the
Wiener Library is that we must do the
latter. Why? Because commemorative
activities and education have become
disconnected from scholarship. At
present the UK lacks any mechanism to
guarantee this. The library is working
to forge partnerships to change this.
We want to bring together scholars,
educators and those concerned with
commemoration – along with one of
the world’s outstanding collections – so
that each specialism both helps and
benefits from the expertise of the others
in a virtuous circle. Countries such as
the USA, Israel and Germany have
long had such centres of excellence.
In the UK, the need to strengthen the
foundations of Holocaust education is
clear – the more so as we prepare our
national Holocaust memorial.
The rise of renewed anti-Semitism
and the increasing incidence of
Holocaust denial and relativisation
are both in essence a challenge to
the weight of evidence. In a world
without survivors, who were able to
stand as witnesses to reality, we must
look to documentary evidence. This is
not dry-as-dust paperwork, but can
have an impact almost as great as the
living witness. For example, a Nazi
school book showing a photograph
of those deemed undesirable, against
Alfred Wiener in 1933
The rise of
renewed anti-
Semitism and
the increasing
incidence of
Holocaust denial
and relativisation
are both in
essence a
challenge to the
weight of
evidence
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
46 | THE WIENER LIBRARY
Director Ben Barkow
The Wiener Library moved to its current
premises at 29 Russell Square in 2011
The Wiener Library is the world’s oldest institution created
to document and offer resistance to the Nazi persecution
of Jews. Founded in Amsterdam in 1933, when Dr Alfred
Wiener fled his homeland once the Nazis had come to power,
it relocated to London in the summer of 1939, days before
the Second World War broke out. Today, it is the UK’s largest
Holocaust-related repository and has one of the world’s finest
collections of books, documents, photographs, digital material
and eyewitness testimony relating to the period. It also actively
engages with the wider question of genocide in the 20th
century. Director Ben Barkow explains more.
One hundred years ago Dr Alfred Wiener, a patriotic German and Jew, looked
at the political scene in his homeland and decided to issue a warning. He did so
in a small pamphlet entitled
Prelude to Pogroms?
in which he alerted his fellow
citizens that if they did not resist far-right anti-Semitism, the consequences for the
nation would be extremely severe. “Anti-Semitic rabble-rousing,” he wrote, “is
the precursor of anarchy,” and will lead to “the blood of citizens flowing in the
streets”. Dr Wiener was an extraordinarily far-sighted commentator, as we know
only too well today. His declaration marked the beginning of his life’s work, and
the beginning of the mission pursued by the Wiener Library.
Continuing Wiener’s work
The Wiener Library, in common with the whole field of Holocaust education and
commemoration, faces three fundamental challenges. Firstly, and perhaps forming
the most severe existential challenge, is the fact that the generation of Holocaust
FACTS ABOUT
THE WIENER LIBRARY
»Director: Ben Barkow
»Founded in 1933
»Based in London
»Services: Library, archives,
events and exhibitions
»No. of employees: 19
The Wiener Library
47THE WIENER LIBRARY |
DIGITAL, CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT
survivors is now rapidly passing away,
severing the direct connection of these
events with living memory. Despite
some well-documented limitations and
problems inherent in survivor testimony,
it is natural that those who witnessed
the genocide first-hand and lived to
tell the tale have been accorded an
extraordinary degree of moral authority.
Indeed, it is hard for anyone wishing to
deny the Holocaust to come up against
someone who can say: “I was there,
I saw this for myself.” We have relied
heavily on the survivors and now face
something akin to a crisis of how to
educate people in theirabsence.
At the same time, anti-Semitism,
Holocaust denial and relativisation are
sharply on the rise, both in the UK
and around the world. This is quite
possibly not coincidental. The fading
away of living memory has opened
up a space for denial – for saying the
Holocaust didn’t happen at all or, more
commonly, that it didn’t happen in the
way that has been taught for the last
generation or so.
And finally, the field of Holocaust
research, education and commemoration
is fragmented, with numerous small
competing organisations, with many
disagreements about what constitutes
good Holocaust commemoration
andeducation.
With the passing of survivors, an
important issue is to work to ensure
that Holocaust education and
commemoration are properly supported.
Can survivors be replaced by some
form of digital surrogate? Can the
children of the survivors take up the
mantle of their parents? Or do we
need to re-think Holocaust education
more fundamentally? The view at the
Wiener Library is that we must do the
latter. Why? Because commemorative
activities and education have become
disconnected from scholarship. At
present the UK lacks any mechanism to
guarantee this. The library is working
to forge partnerships to change this.
We want to bring together scholars,
educators and those concerned with
commemoration – along with one of
the world’s outstanding collections – so
that each specialism both helps and
benefits from the expertise of the others
in a virtuous circle. Countries such as
the USA, Israel and Germany have
long had such centres of excellence.
In the UK, the need to strengthen the
foundations of Holocaust education is
clear – the more so as we prepare our
national Holocaust memorial.
The rise of renewed anti-Semitism
and the increasing incidence of
Holocaust denial and relativisation
are both in essence a challenge to
the weight of evidence. In a world
without survivors, who were able to
stand as witnesses to reality, we must
look to documentary evidence. This is
not dry-as-dust paperwork, but can
have an impact almost as great as the
living witness. For example, a Nazi
school book showing a photograph
of those deemed undesirable, against
Alfred Wiener in 1933
The rise of
renewed anti-
Semitism and
the increasing
incidence of
Holocaust denial
and relativisation
are both in
essence a
challenge to the
weight of
evidence
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
48 | THE WIENER LIBRARY
which a child has written the words
“Shootthem” is a powerful thing.
Equally, the handwritten account of life
in the Theresienstadt ghetto written
in
situe
by Philipp Manes before he was
deported and murdered in Auschwitz,
is incontrovertible and deeply moving.
One can be very confident that the
documents and artefacts of the
Holocaust are strong witnesses to the
truth and offer overwhelming evidence
of the great crime of the Holocaust.
Furthering education and
remembrance
The Wiener Library is an integral
part of numerous national and
international networks and groups.
These range from the International
Holocaust Remembrance Alliance to
the European Holocaust Research
Infrastructure. We have recently signed
a memorandum of understanding with
the University of Huddersfield and
the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship
Association of Leeds to provide the
university with a Wiener Library North
to support its research and education
work and to supplement the superb
exhibition created by the Friendship
Association on the university’s campus.
The Wiener Library has one of the
most successful Holocaust education
websites in the world,
The Holocaust
Explained
, which is used by around
three million people at present – a
number that rises almost month
by month. We have digitised and
translated thousands of pages of
testimony, which Dr Wiener and his
team collected between the 1930s and
1950s and made many of them freely
availableonline.
And we continue to expand our
collections – purchasing around 1,200
books and taking custody of around
60 new archival collections each year.
The Wiener Library sits at the heart
of Holocaust research, education and
commemoration, maintaining and
growing its extraordinary collections
– which anyone may consult free
of charge, to learn: firstly, that the
Holocaust is a historical reality;
secondly, what the complex political,
social, military and economic processes
were that allowed it to occur; thirdly,
what challenges the long-term
consequences of genocide pose to
individuals, groups and societies.
Finally, the Wiener Library is where
those whose families were touched
by the Holocaust can come to see
their stories and those of others
collected, preserved and shared for the
commongood.
One can be
very confident
that the
documents
and artefacts
of the
Holocaust are
strong
witnesses to
the truth and
offer
overwhelming
evidence of the
great crime of
the Holocaust
The library hosts
temporary exhibitions
and a vibrant events
series open to all
49POWELL-COTTON MUSEUM |
DIGITAL, CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT
Director Catriona West
Aerial view of the Powell-Cotton
Museum
The Powell-Cotton Museum is an independent charity
responsible for a nationally significant collection of world
cultures, natural history and fine and decorative arts. The
museum is located in seven acres ofbeautiful, informal gardens
including lawns, herbaceous borders, a woodland walk, and a
historic walled garden.A Victorian mansion house, the home
of the Powell-Cottons, completes the site. Director Catriona
Westelaborates.
Often called a hidden gem, our small museum offers visitors outstanding animal
dioramas, accessible exhibitions and innovative programming. Founded by Percy
Powell-Cotton, an Edwardian explorer, collector and naturalist, his overarching mission
was to “bring the world to Birchington” and educate and enrich the lives of the local
community. Visitors of all ages are encouraged to engage with stories of one man’s
extensive travels through Africa and Asia, living and working with indigenous peoples.
Contentious collections and creating relevance today
One man’s travels and his collection put us at the heart of a national debate on the
impact of colonial collecting on indigenous communities. Those cultures so readily
“collected” 100 years ago have stood a century without voice in UK museums. Our
challenge is to work with both diaspora and indigenous communities, to give them
that voice in our collections database, our exhibitions and our programming.
In 2019 we are collaborating with the University of Sussex on the
Making African
Connections: Decolonial Futures for Colonial Collections
project, examining
our Angolan collection. Co-production is central to the project. Partnerships with
FACTS ABOUT
POWELL-COTTON MUSEUM
»Director: Catriona West
»Founded in 1896
»Charity established in 1926
»Located in Birchington,
Thanet, Kent
»Services: Museum, historic
house, gardens
»No. of employees: 33
»Dating from 1896, our
Kashmir diorama is reputed
to be the oldest surviving
example in Europe
»www.quexpark.co.uk/museum
Powell-Cotton
Museum

www.wienerlibrary.co.uk

This article was sponsored by The Wiener Library. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster