Crimes Uncovered: The First Generation of Holocaust Researchers

The Wiener Library’s spring 2019 exhibition, Crimes Uncovered: The First Generation of Holocaust Researchers, traces the stories and legacies of the individuals and institutions who first collected evidence of the crimes of the Holocaust. Learn about those who carried out this imperative work as genocide unfolded around them, and those who much later pursued justice and remembrance.

The exhibition commemorates the life and work of some of these pioneers of Holocaust research. Among others, the stories of: Emmanuel Ringelblum and Rachel Auerbach, whose Oyneg Shabbos organisation gathered and concealed evidence from inside the Warsaw Ghetto; Raphael Lemkin, who used the information he amassed about the atrocities of the Holocaust to develop the legal concept of genocide; Vasily Grossman, who documented the extermination of Soviet Jews; Alfred Wiener, founder of The Wiener Library, who collected and disseminated evidence of Nazi activities from the mid-1920s onwards, as well as the Library’s Eva Reichmann, who launched one of the earliest projects to collect eye-witness testimonies to the Holocaust.

For the ‘first generation’ of Holocaust researchers their efforts were particularly urgent in the face of Nazi efforts to eradicate all traces of Jewish existence from Europe. Under the most adverse conditions and often against indifference, denunciation and violence, they shaped the foundations of our current knowledge of the Holocaust. Today, institutions such as The Wiener Library extend this legacy by continuing to collect and preserve vital evidence and testimonies.

Eva Reichmann, Wiener Library Head of Research, 1950s. Wiener Library Collections