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Institute Profile

 

During the last years of his life, Simon Wiesenthal was particularly concerned to open up his personal archive, which had grown out of his many years of research, accessible to research. He wanted the documents to create the basis for further research with new questions in the context of an academic institute; he wanted the spirit of his work to be maintained at a time when both the perpetrators and the victims of the Nazi era will have died.

 

In the year 2000, at a time when Simon Wiesenthal was still alive, several renowned Viennese academic institutions and the Jewish Community Vienna (IKG) initiated the establishment of an international centre for research on the Holocaust. Simon Wiesenthal still had the opportunity to personally contribute to the design of the resulting "Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies" before his death in September 2005. It was the aim that the institute should, in accordance with the spirit of his life's work, be dedicated to the research, documentation and education on all issues related to antisemitism, racism and the Holocaust, remaining, most of all, open to new and innovative trends in the relevant research areas. The decision that the Republic of Austria and the City of Vienna would finance the three year foundation phase of the institute on the basis of a detailed plan of working stages together with the Jewish Community (IKG), resp. the supporting organization of the Simon Wiesenthal archive, the "Bund jüdischer Verfolgter des Naziregimes" ["Association of Jews Persecuted by the Nazi Regime"], was eventually reached in 2008.

 

The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is active in three central fields. Documentation centres around its centrepieces, the Holocaust-related parts of the IKG archive, which are on loan to the institute, and the estate of Simon Wiesenthal with its extensive holdings on Nazi perpetrators, as well as the VWI library. On the basis of this collection, which are either owned by or accessible via the institute, the VWI will conduct its research activities in the form of projects and the inititation of publications.

 

The fellowship programme is central to VWI research. It builds on the recommendations, suggestions and initiatives made by the International Academic Board both in content and concept and in the selection of the fellows. The programme is flexible and open to the free research scene, and engages in intensive and ongoing exchange with researchers in other institutions, thus ensuring constant scholarly innovation and consideration for new questions and innovative methods.

 

Education is the VWI's third pillar. This aspect marks the project's dedication to the central idea of European enlightenment: an education into responsible adults based on the transfer of knowledge. Scholarly lectures and events are to engage a broad public into confronting antisemitism, racism, the Holocaust and genocide via the presentation of important research results on these subjects. However, it is also important for VWI's educational aims to develop, expand and try out new, even experimental concepts: The VWI intends to stage exhibitions and artistic installations as as well as initiating interventions in the public sphere, developing new internet projects or puttinh new teaching methods and teaching aids up for discussion in the context of scholarly discussions.

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