Alfred Wiener was a central figure in the documentation of Nazi and anti-Nazi activity and literature during the Holocaust and the legacy of The Wiener Holocaust Library remains a shaping force in this field.
The evening marked the first translation into English of two pamphlets originally written in 1919 and 1924. The discussion considered what we can learn from the past – particularly the still-urgent issue - the rise of antisemitism and populism, and the necessity and effectiveness of an intellectual resistance.
A sharp and insightful thinker, Wiener’s writing reveals the critical role played by information and disinformation during the Antisemitic onslaught that followed Germany's defeat in the First World War. Through tackling issues such as the planned rise of Antisemitism, the scapegoating of minorities, and the widespread use of propaganda, these pamphlets speak as urgently to the contemporary moment as well as providing a window on to the past.
Toby Simpson, director of the Wiener Holocaust Library will chair a panel consisting of Alfred Wiener’s Grandson, journalist Daniel Finkelstein, Professor of Media History Jean Seaton and Professor of Modern Jewish History, Michael Berkowitz.
Alfred Wiener (1885-1964) was a German Jew who dedicated much of his life to documenting Antisemitism and racism in Germany and Europe, and uncovering crimes of Germany's Nazi government. He trained as an Arabist and spent 1909-1911 in the Middle East. He is best known as founder and long-time director of the Wiener Library.
The Wiener Holocaust Library is Britain's largest collection of printed and archival material covering the Holocaust and genocide.
‘Timely, necessary, eloquent, compelling, human - two remarkable essays, to remind us of the long shadow and resonance of history’
Rabbi Julia Neuberger
‘These essays are remarkable - chilling, prescient, angry and tinged with profound sadness… These pamphlets remind us of our obligation to speak out, to point out obvious nonsense, and never, ever, be shamed into silence’
‘A revealing, detailed look at how antisemitic propaganda was designed, targeted and distributed in post WWI Germany. Shows once again that hate doesn't just magically appear, isn't the product of one charismatic orator, but is methodically produced and reproduced by a whole system and market. The echoes to today are sadly all too obvious’
‘If you wonder what Cassandra must have sounded like, you need go no further than these two remarkably painful and prescient pamphlets by Alfred Wiener… The recovery of these writings in our own time, with its resurgence of toxic nationalism and religious bigotry, is an important event’