• Dr Wiener’s Library

    Black and white photograph of Alfred Wiener at the library
    Staff at The Wiener Library, 1953. From left: Susanne Rosenstock, Hans Reichmann, Ilse Wolff, Alfred Wiener, Eva Reichmann and Werner Rosenstock.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.
    Black and white photograph of Wiener
    Dr Alfred Wiener at his desk in Manchester Square, London, c. 1950s.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    Dr Alfred Wiener (1885-1964) was born in Potsdam near Berlin. An academic who studied Oriental languages and Arabic literature, Wiener spent time in the Middle East prior to, during and after the First World War, in which he served as a soldier in the German Army. After the war, he became concerned about the rise in antisemitism in Germany. Wiener campaigned against extreme right-wing politicians who sought to blame Germany’s defeat on the Jews.

    Travelling Exhibition

    People viewing the Library's travelling exhibition

    This unique travelling exhibition is available to hire from the Library.

    Our travelling exhibitions have been designed especially for schools, organisations and institutions to educate and inform their own audiences regardless of space and budget.

    Find out more about the Library’s travelling exhibitions here.

  • The Wiener Library

    The Wiener Holocaust Library was founded in Amsterdam in 1934 by Dr Alfred Wiener, a German-Jewish anti-Nazi activist and campaigner against antisemitism. Wiener fled Germany shortly after the Nazi Party came to power.

    In Amsterdam, Wiener’s organisation, then known as the Jewish Central Information Office, gathered evidence and information about the situation in Nazi Germany and the position of the Jewish community there.

    Alfred Wiener moved his institution to London in 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. It opened its doors in Manchester Square in London on 1 September 1939. During the war, the organisation became known as Dr Wiener’s Library.

    Photograph of women standing in the Library reading a book
    The Reading Room at The Wiener Library, Devonshire Street, London, c. 1960s.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.
    Dr Alfred Wiener and Ilse Wolff, 1950s
    Dr Alfred Wiener and Ilse Wolff at The Wiener Library, Manchester Square, London, c. 1950s.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    Today, the Library continues to build on Alfred Wiener’s work. We hold one of the world’s largest and oldest collections of books, documents, photographs and archival material on the Nazi era, the Holocaust and antisemitism. We use our collections to educate and inform people about the Holocaust. Our archives are available to researchers, family historians, relatives of victims and survivors and all those who are interested in the study of fascism and genocide.

    In 2011, the Library moved to 29 Russell Square, London, where it runs a busy programme of exhibitions and events.

    Exterior of 29 Russell Square
    The Wiener Holocaust Library, 29 Russell Square, London.
  • The Library’s Collections

    Our growing collection includes an original copy of documents from the Nuremberg Trials, as well as Nazi documents, material relating to antisemitism in Germany and collections of papers of Jewish refugees who came to Britain in the 1930s and 1940s.

    Family Collections

    Our family collections build a picture of Jewish life from the mid-nineteenth-century century to the present day. The collections were donated primarily by Jewish refugees who came to Britain with their families.

    Red Cross letter written by a Kindertransport refugee to her family in Germany in 1942
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    This Red Cross letter was sent from Alice Fink, a Kindertransport refugee fostered in London, to her family in Germany in 1942. On the reverse is her father’s reply, the final communication she was to receive before his deportation and murder.


    The Library holds over 20,000 photographs and pictures. These are an important visual resource documenting prejudice and the Holocaust as well as daily life. Over half the collection is now available in digital format.

    German Jew Ludwig Neumann shortly after his release from Dachau
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    Ludwig Neumann was photographed after his imprisonment in Dachau in 1938. Neumann was a German Jew and owner of the Neumann & Mendel clothing factory in Essen. Neumann’s business was taken away from him by the Nazis and transferred to a pro-Nazi owner.

    He was imprisoned following Kristallnacht, the Nazi-orchestrated attack on the Jewish communities of Germany and Austria in 1938.

    The International Tracing Service Archive

    The International Tracing Service (ITS) archive at the Library is a digital collection of over 30 million documents relating to the Second World War and the Holocaust. The Library is the only point of access in the UK. Its original purpose was to help trace individual Holocaust victims who had disappeared during the war – a role it still fulfills today, as well as being a valuable scholarly resource. The Library has a dedicated team of researchers to undertake research inquiries for the public and academics.

    A register of prisoners from Mauthausen concentration camp, March 1945. ITS, WHL, Doc ID 1280410
    International Tracing Service Archive, Wiener Holocaust Library Collections, Doc ID 1280410.

    This is a copy of the register of prisoners from the Mauthausen concentration camp. This page relates to prisoners registered in March 1945.

  • The Origins of the Library

    Emergency money used in the Weimar Republic following the First World War, 1920s
    Notgeld (emergency money), 1920s. An emergency monetary system used during the First World War and in the Weimar Republic. These banknotes were printed in the early 1920s in the North German city of Sternberg, as part of a series that depicts an antisemitic pogrom that occurred in 1492.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    Rising Nationalism

    After completing his First World War military service, Alfred Wiener joined the Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens (Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith) in Berlin.

    An Austrian biography of Georg Ritter von Schönerer, 1921, an Austrian politician and an early exponent of virulent political antisemitism
    An Austrian biography of Georg Ritter von Schönerer, 1921, an Austrian politician and an early exponent of virulent political antisemitism. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    The Centralverein

    The Centralverein worked to combat the idea that German Jews could never be German citizens. Its members emphasized that they were Germans irrespective of their religion, and were fully committed to the new German nation. They pointed to the large number of German Jewish volunteers for combat service during the First World War. An estimated 100,000 Jewish soldiers fought in the German Army, of whom 12,000 perished.

    Ludwig Neumann as soldier in the First World War
    Ludwig Neumann, a German Jew from Monchengladbach, photographed after volunteering for service in the German Army in 1915. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    Post-War Antisemitism in Germany

    Social and political chaos followed the German surrender of 1918. Ex-servicemen of the Freikorps and extreme right-wing German politicians regarded the Treaty of Versailles as a betrayal of the German Army. The myths that underpinned this false idea of betrayal drew heavily on antisemitic ideas of nineteenth-century German nationalism that portrayed the Jews as a foreign, malevolent influence deliberately undermining Germany.

    Alfred Wiener, Vor Pogromen?, 1919.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    Vor Pogromen? was Dr Alfred Wiener’s first publication. He wrote this pamphlet just a year after returning to Germany after serving in the First World War.

    His perception of the dangers inherent in the situation in post-war Germany was acute and his opening words “a mighty antisemitic flood has broken over our heads…” are chilling.

  • Alfred Wiener Against the Rise of the Nazis

    In early 1919 in Munich, a new political party was founded, the German Workers Party. It was later named the National Socialist German Workers Party – NSDAP – and became known as the Nazi Party.

    “Vote Hitler! The leader out of misery and need!” Nazi election poster, 1930s. The caption alludes to the idea that only Hitler could rescue Germany from the unemployment, poverty and economic collapse that the Great Depression had caused.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.
    1930s Nazi election poster
    “Mother, think of us! Vote Hitler!” A Nazi presidential election propaganda poster, 1930s. The Nazis used such imagery to position themselves as the champions of ‘traditional’ German family values.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    The party was nationalistic and antisemitic and opposed to the peace settlement imposed on Germany after the First World War. Under Adolf Hitler’s leadership from 1921, the party sought to overturn democracy in Germany and expand Germany’s borders.

    In 1923, the Party launched a failed attempt to seize power in Germany during the Munich Putsch. In the mid-1920s, the Party had very little public support.

    Increased political and financial stability and economic growth from 1924 reduced the appeal of extremism among the German electorate, but the threat of antisemitism remained. In 1928, the Centralverein, at the urging of Alfred Wiener, set up an organisation, Büro Wilhelmstrasse, to document Nazi-antisemitic activities and publish anti-Nazi material.

    Wiener’s activities within the Büro became ever more urgent as the impact of the Great Depression hit Germany from 1929. Weimer Germany’s fragile democracy came under increasing strain in the face of mass unemployment and a 40% reduction in the size of the economy. In this context, the Nazis were able to capitalise on people’s discontentment with the economic and political situation. The Party grew into a mass movement, and by 1932, was the largest party in the Reichstag, the German parliament.

  • Alfred Wiener’s Work in the 1930s

    In March 1933, immediately after Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany, the Nazis raided the offices of the Centralverein. This marked the beginning of a concerted campaign against the organisation, which resulted in the intimidation, and imprisonment of numerous members. Realizing this his position, as a prominent Jewish critic of the new regime was untenable, Wiener immigrated to Holland, founding the Jewish Central Information Office (JCIO) in Amsterdam in 1934.

    While in Amsterdam, Alfred Wiener and the JCIO attempted to draw attention to the increasing persecution of Jews under the Nazis.

    a flyer from the 1933 Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses
    A flyer from the April 1933 boycott of Jewish businesses. The text reads ‘do not buy from Jews’.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.
    The Jewish Central Information Office, Amsterdam, 1930s
    The Jewish Central Information Office, Jan van Eijckstraat 16, Amsterdam, 1930s. The building on the far left doubled as the headquarters of the organisation and Alfred Wiener’s family home.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    The Nuremberg Laws

    Gerda Nabe’s school project: an assignment for German schoolchildren based on the racial theories of the Nuremberg Laws.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    Enacted on 15 September 1935, the Nuremberg Laws directly targeted the citizenship rights of German Jews and Roma.

    It was formed of two pieces of legislation: the ‘Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour’ banned marriage and physical relations between ‘Aryan’ and Jewish Germans, and the ‘Reich Citizenship Law’ which removed citizenship from German Jews, Roma and other minorities, including Black people.

    The 1936 Berlin Olympic Games

    Two photographs of the 1936 Olympics - one shows the crowd, the other the running track
    A page from a German Jewish family album, showing the family trackside at the Berlin Olympic Games.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    The 1936 Olympics brought a temporary halt to the most overt antisemitism in Germany. With the eyes of the world on Germany, the Nazis sought to avoid strong international condemnation by pausing public persecution and relaxing some of the nation’s antisemitic laws.

    After the Olympics, the persecution of Jews and Roma restarted.


    Original testimony collected by the JCIO immediately after Kristallnacht
    Original testimony collected by the JCIO immediately after Kristallnacht.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    The 9 and 10 November 1938, saw a significant escalation of the Nazi Party’s persecution of Jews during a nationwide orchestrated attack on the Jewish communities of Germany and Austria during Kristallnacht. More than 200 synagogues were destroyed, Jewish homes and businesses were attacked and thousands of Jews were assaulted on the streets. Around 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and imprisoned in concentration camps, and hundreds of people were murdered.

    Alfred Wiener and the JCIO immediately began gathering as many first-hand testimonies as they could to build up a body of evidence about this crime. The JCIO began to publish this material, and this added to the growing awareness internationally of the Nazis’ persecution of Jews.

    The Library has made hundreds of these early eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust available via the Pogrom: November 1938. Testimonies from Kristallnacht digital resource.

  • Dr Wiener’s Library and the Holocaust

    Deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto, 1943
    Deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto, 1943.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    The German invasion of Poland in August 1939 saw the intensification of the Nazi Party’s policies of persecution. Jews and Roma faced increasing restrictions and were forced to live in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.

    The Nazis’ extended their camp system throughout occupied Poland and elsewhere. During the German invasion of the Soviet Union from June 1941, special SS detachments – Einsatzgruppen – carried out the mass murder of Jews and others in these areas. The first purpose-built extermination camp, Chełmno, was opened in December 1941.

    Ultimately, between 1941 and 1945, the Nazis and their collaborators in targeted campaigns of genocide murdered around six million Jews and as many as 500,000 Roma and Sinti.

    This map indicates the number of Jews murdered by the Einsatzgruppen (killing squads which followed the German army) in each country. The map shows modern day Belarus, at the bottom, then continuing clockwise, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Russia. The map was featured as part of the Stahlecker report and was used in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.
    This map, used as evidence at the Nuremberg Trials, indicates the numbers of Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen in areas that were designated ‘Judenfrei’ – free of Jews. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    Extermination Camps

    Women and children on arrival in Auschwitz-Birkenau, before being murdered in the gas chambers.
    Women and children on arrival in Auschwitz-Birkenau, before being murdered in the gas chambers.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    From autumn 1941, the Nazis established a network of extermination camps across the occupied territories, centred largely in occupied Poland. Some camps, such as the huge complex at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where over 1.1 million prisoners were killed, combined facilities for mass murder with a forced labour camp.

    2.7 million people were murdered in the dedicated extermination camps of Auschwitz II Birkenau, Belzec, Chełmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka. In Chełmno, up to 200,000 people were murdered with only seven known survivors.

  • Dr Wiener’s Library in London

    During the war, the JCIO, now in London was increasingly referred to as Dr Wiener’s Library and was funded by the British government.

    The organisation worked to gather evidence about the persecution, and later mass murder, of Jews in Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe.

    The Library has an extensive collection of wartime pamphlets, including this early report of the mass killings in occupied Poland, 1943
    The Library has an extensive collection of wartime pamphlets, including this early report of the mass killings in occupied Poland, 1943.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    The Wiener Family

    The genocide directly affected the Library: a number of JCIO staff members were killed during the Holocaust, and Alfred Wiener’s wife and daughters remained in the Netherlands from where they were eventually deported to concentration camps.

    Black and white photograph of three girls
    Alfred Wiener’s three daughters, Eva, Ruth and Mirjam, Amsterdam, 1940.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.
    Side profile of woman wearing coat in field
    Dr Margarethe Wiener, Bonn, 1918.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    When deportations of Dutch Jews began in July 1942, Ruth Wiener, along with her younger sisters and mother, attempted to go into hiding. They were eventually discovered and deported to Westerbork transit camp. Ruth and her sisters survived the war, being liberated in a rare prisoner exchange from Bergen-Belsen in January 1945, but Margarethe, Alfred Wiener’s wife, died one day after her liberation.

    In 2019, the Library’s The Holocaust Explained Project Coordinator wrote a blog detailing Ruth Wiener’s experiences during the Holocaust based on the family’s collections in our archive.

  • The Wiener Library after the Second World War

    Black and white photograph of two women in the library
    Staff at The Wiener Library in Manchester Square, c. 1950s.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, The Wiener Library was closely involved in gathering evidence about the Holocaust and assisted with the prosecution of German war criminals.

    The Library contributed significantly to the study of the Holocaust. The Wiener Library Bulletin, first published in 1946, was one of the earliest publications to bring Holocaust studies into the academic sphere. The Library supported the writing and publication of early seminal research into the Holocaust and the Nazis, including the Library’s Head of Research Eva Reichmann’s study of Nazi ideology, Hostages of Civilisation (1950).

    Eyewitness Accounts of the Holocaust

    Among the most remarkable of the Library’s research projects was the collection of eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust from witnesses and survivors across Europe.

    From the first testimony issued in May 1945, that of a man who had been liberated from Auschwitz, the project ran officially until the mid-1960s and gathered over 1,200 individual accounts.

    In 2021, the Library launched Testifying to the Truth, a digital resource that allows users to explore some of these accounts. This marks the first time these testimonies have been translated and made accessible online.

    A typed eyewitness testimony detailing experiences of the Holocaust
    An eyewitness account by Hermine Horvath, a Roma woman from Austria, 1958.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.
    1865 - Waging peace: Darfur children's drawings
    These drawings were made by child survivors of the genocide in Darfur and collected by the NGO Waging Peace.

    The Library’s collections continued to grow, most recently with the acquisition of substantial collections of material on Jewish refugees from Nazism who came to Britain and documentary evidence of other genocides, such as in Darfur.

  • The Wiener Holocaust Library Today

    The Wiener Holocaust Library continues to be Britain’s foremost centre for the study of the Holocaust and genocide, and one of the world’s leading collections of material relating to the Nazi era. The Library’s collections are continually growing.

    An exhibition display at The Wiener Library
    Exhibition displays at The Wiener Holocaust Library.
    Volunteers undertaking conservation work on valuable printed materials.
    Volunteers undertaking conservation work.
    A volunteer guide shows unique items from the Library's collections
    The Library hosts regular volunteer-led tours to tell the story of the Library and the Holocaust, as well as showing how and why we collect and preserve our wealth of documentary evidence.
  • The Wiener Holocaust Library Today

    The Library continues to collect documents and books relating to the Nazi era and the Holocaust. Every year, we receive many collections of papers of Jewish refugees who came to Britain in the 1930s and 1940s. Our ongoing mission is to make these collections as accessible as possible for academic and family research, to engage future generations in the study of the Holocaust and to serve as a living memorial to the evils of the past.

    Alfred Josephs with his son Wolfgang on holiday in Bavaria, 1920
    Alfred Josephs with his son, Wolfgang, on holiday in Bavaria, 1920.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.
    Telegram from Wolfgang Josephs to his father, 1942
    The last message that Alfred Josephs sent to his son before he was deported to Auschwitz and murdered in 1942.
    Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

    Thinking of donating family papers?

    If you are looking for a permanent home for original family papers and photographs documenting the experiences of refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe, consider entrusting them to us. We are still actively collecting documents, correspondence, photographs and ephemera (contemporary leaflets, programmes, publications etc), not only from the Nazi period but also from earlier eras before the persecution.

    We can offer a safe and secure environment, archive conservation, cataloguing, and an invigilated reading room for our visitors to consult the material. Find out more.

    A man and woman examine documents in the Wolfson Reading Room.
    Senior Archivist Howard Falksohn examines objects with Ruth, a volunteer, in the Wolfson Reading Room.