28 April 2007

Roundtable on Vienna's community archives

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is hosting a roundtable discussion on June 7, titled "Rescuing the Evidence: The Archive of the Jewish Community of Vienna."

In 2000, during a routine inspection of one of its older buildings, Jewish Community Vienna (IKG) officials found a vacant apartment filled with wooden cabinets and 800 cardboard boxes -- covered with decades of dirt, dust and mold -- containing documents.

Some of the items discovered have become part of a cache detailing the Viennese Jewish community's final pre-Holocaust years -- it now numbers some 2 million pages of Holocaust-era documents, including reports, letters, emigration and financial documents, deportation lists, name card files, books, photographs, maps, and charts.

The recently-found materials represent a substantial and long-forgotten archival record part of what was once the largest German-speaking Jewish community in Europe.

In 2002, the Museum and the IKG agreed to jointly rescue the materials and make them available to both the Viennese public and at the USHMM.

The panelists at the USHMM program on May 7 will highlight the discovery, rescue, and dissemination of the materials; the impact on survivors; the importance for genealogical research and the scholarly field of Holocaust studies at USHMM and at a planned Vienna Wiesenthal Institute (VWI); and preparations for an exhibition set to open at the Vienna's Jewish Museum later this year.

The event includes a welcome by the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies (CAHS) director Paul Shapiro. CAHS senior program officer Suzanne Brown-Fleming is the panel chair, while participants include: Ingo Zechner (Holocaust Victims' Information and Support Center director, Vienna, Austria); Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek (Jewish Museum Vienna chief curator, Austria); Anatol Steck (CAHS Program Officer, International Archival Programs); and Walter B. Feiden (a Viennese survivor in New York who was featured on the CBS 60 Minutes segment, "Revisiting the Horrors of the Holocaust").

For more on the USHMM's Vienna archival collection, click here. For roundtable reservations and information, click here.

NOTE: Both Shapiro and Zechner will also be speaking at the 27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, July 15-20, in Salt Lake City. Conference opening keynote speaker Shapiro will address the latest news on the Bad Arolsen records, while Zechner will speak on the Vienna community records.

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