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The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) organises academic events in order to provide the broader public as well as an expert audience with regular insights into the most recent research results in the fields of Holocaust, genocide, and racism research. These events, some of which extend beyond academia in the stricter sense, take on different formats ranging from small lectures to the larger Simon Wiesenthal Lectures and from workshops addressing an expert audience to larger international conferences and the Simon Wiesenthal Conferences. This reflects the institute’s wide range of activities.


The range of events further extends to the presentation of selected new publications on the institute’s topics of interest, interventions in the public space, the film series VWI Visuals, and the fellows’ expert colloquia.



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VWI invites/goes to...
Paul Weindling: Experiencing Persecution and Forced Migration: Jewish Medical Refugees from post-Anschluss Vienna to the UK

Wednesday, 24. February 2016, 14:30 - 16:30


Institute of Culture Studies and Theatre History,
Austrian Academy of Sciences
Dr.-Ignaz-Seipel-Platz 2
1010 Wien

VWI goes to the IKT...

2016 SPSL Scottish CouncilStudies of what is euphemistically called “emigration” and “exile” of persons escaping Nazi persecu-tion have traditionally focused on high achievers rather than the kleine Leute and their wider experi-ences. Austrian medical refugees coming to the UK have a distinctive history in that the persecution in Vienna after the Anschluss was intense, and the Nazi systems of professional exclusion and mi-gration worked with vicious efficiency. In medicine and other medically related areas, Jews were rapidly excluded from insurance and state employment, and lost the status of Arzt. While the Nazi systems are administratively well documented, less known is their effect on individual life histories. I examine the medical refugees, who came from Austria both in terms of individual experiences and in structural terms. The life history approach allows one to examine cases of failure and hardship, as well as adaptation.

My talk will focus initially on the experience of persecution in Vienna, considering the exclusion of Jews from mainstream medicine and the development of a specifically Jewish medical system exac-erbated by persecution of Vienna’s Jews. For forced migration, it is necessary to examine sources of support with the system of “guarantors” and a range of facilitating organisations. The UK saw a number of group schemes, including limited concessions for Austrian physicians and dental surgeons. Kristallnacht had a profound response in the UK in terms of relaxing restrictions. Thus many more medical refugees came to or through the UK, and their experiences such as re-qualifying and internment in 1940 merit more systematic analysis than hitherto. The Austrian medical refugees became caught up in domestic British politics of the modernisation of health care provision and medical research, ultimately creating a demand for clinical specialists, which many Austrians came to fill.

Comments by Michaela Raggam-Blesch

Paul Weindling is Senior Visiting Fellow at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute and professor at Oxford Brookes University. He is member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina where he is developing collective biographical studies of forced migration of medical professionals, and of victims of Nazi medical ex-periments. This research is supported by the Anneliese Maier Prize of the Humboldt Foundation. His book Victims and Survivors of Nazi Human Experiments was Yad Vashem book prize finalist.

Michaela Raggam-Blesch is a historian at the Institute of Culture Studies and the History of Theater (IKT) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences with an APART post-doc scholarship on Everyday life and persecution of women and men of half-Jewish descent in Vienna, 1938-1945. From 1999–2003 she worked for the Leo Baeck Institute in New York and was a fellow of the Center for Jewish History in 2003. Main fields of research: Austrian Jewish history of the 19th and 20th century, Oral History, Autobiography and Memory studies, Holo-caust Studies, Gender Studies.

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