To mark the 90th Anniversary of the establishment of the Library’s predecessor organisation in Amsterdam, we worked with the National Film and Television School’s Bridge to Industry scheme to commission two short films from NFTS graduates highlighting our important work and unique collections. The launch of these films kicks off a series of events and activities marking this important year for the Wiener Library, the longest continuously running archive of documents on the Nazi era and the Holocaust in the world.

Dr Toby Simpson with NFTS Filmmakers, James, Katia and Emma

Inspired by the stories that the Library’s family papers’ collection contain, Director Katia Lom created Witness, a powerful reflection on the impact of the Holocaust on families and individuals. Director James Alexandrou was struck by the breadth and depth of the Library’s collections, and the power of the voices of those recorded in our audio oral histories. He has created a dynamic visual and auditory representation of our archive in An Audio Testimony.

Introducing the films at a launch event, Library Trustee and celebrated filmmaker (Under the Skin, Sexy Beast) Jonathan Glazer, said he “was struck by the high quality of the ideas”. He added “both groups have made films that come from a place of absolute sincerity, you can’t take this subject on lightly, you have to think carefully about who and what you’re representing”. He said he was deeply impressed by both projects.

Reflecting on the purpose of these films, Library Director Dr Toby Simpson said its so important to have these pieces to celebrate and showcase our work. As we celebrate our 90th anniversary we reflect on our position as an organisation “deeply rooted in the past but also always oriented towards the future”. He said that we wanted in a short encapsulation “to communicate to people what makes the Library so special, so unique, and so important”, and that it was inspiring to witness the way the directors and producers saw the Library completely afresh.

James Alexandrou said of the project: “As we hurtle towards a world of advanced chatbots and deep fake AI video generators, it struck me how vital original testimony is and that an archive such as the Wiener Holocaust library is preserved and exposed to the world as much as possible. It’s been a privilege finding a voice like Leon’s and telling a tiny part of such an important story.”

Katia Lom said “these important archives are not only essential because of the vital information they hold, but they become a place of commemoration and reflection. Although they’re amazing for research, you can also come and remember and reflect on your loved ones.”

We invite everyone to watch these two fantastic short films via the Library’s YouTube channel and give our thanks to everyone involved with the projects, James Alexandrou, Shereen Ali, Emma Hanson, Katia Lom, Venetia Hawkes, Jonathan Glazer, Bea Lewkowicz and in particular to Peter Briess and Leon Greenman who generously agreed to feature in the films.