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Simon Wiesenthal Lectures


The Simon Wiesenthal Lecture series has been held in collaboration with the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DÖW) and the Institute of Contemporary History at the University of Vienna since 2007, when the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) was still being established. As an important aspect of the task of education on recent academic insights in the fields of Holocaust research and genocide studies, the lecture series has developed into the VWI's education flagship.


The lectures take place every six to eight weeks, with renowned scholars presenting the most recent research insights on the Holocaust to a professional audience as well as a broader public. They showcase the impressive spectrum of this discipline, its numerous questions and issues ranging from empirical-analytical historiography to topics of cultural scholarship, and involve young scholars as well as established academics.


The Austrian State Archive as our co-operation partner has since June 2010 provided us with the perfect location for our lectures: the rooftop foyer of the “Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv” at Minoritenplatz in Vienna. This location at the rear façade of the Federal Chancellery of the Republic of Austria is symbolic of the reappraisal of the Holocaust in Austria: After all, this history had been marginalised for decades, just like its immediate historical antecedent, Austrian antisemitism, was cut out of history, its appraisal shoved aside for victims and their descendants to deal with. This has only changed in recent times. The Shoah has simultaneously been moving ever closer to the centre of Austrian historical awareness. It has slowly emerged from the repressed periphery and out of the realm of taboo and silence and into the focus of understanding of Austria’s most recent history. Thus, the Simon Wiesenthal Lectures are held at a place that represents the symbolic and real centre of the Republic and is at the same time also an instance of this turn in the Austrian perception of its own history.



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Simon Wiesenthal Lecture
Barbara Törnquist-Plewa: In Search of Transnational and Transcultural Memories of the Holocaust. Examples from Sweden and Poland

Thursday, 19. April 2018, 18:30 - 21:00

Dachfoyer des Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchivs, 1010 Wien, Minoritenplatz 1


The memory of the Holocaust was one of the first fully-fledged transnational collective memories to travel around the world. Most of the scholarship tracing the transnational flows of representations of Holocaust memory has focussed on literature, films, and other media products. This lecture, on the other hand, foregrounds the research on memory practices in specific geographic places in order to demonstrate the transnational dimension of national and local Holocaust memories, as well as to trace how this memory actually travels across national borders and what happens during this process. What is the potential of transnational Holocaust memories to produce new stories and new social relations and solidarities?

This lecture presents two different examples of transnational Holocaust memory at work in specific localities: one from the Swedish capital, Stockholm, and one from the provincial Polish town of Szydlowiec, that prior to the Holocaust was a shtetl. In connection with these cases, the lecture discusses the extent to which transnational memories are also transcultural or culturally hybrid memories that have a transformative power, enabling people to imagine new communities and new types of belonging.

Barbara Törnquist-Plewa is a Professor of Eastern and Central European Studies at Lund University in Sweden. Between 2012 and 2016, she led the international research network In Search for Transcultural Memory in Europe (in the framework of the EU COST-programme). Her research focusses on nationalism, identity, and collective memories. She is the author and editor of a number of books and articles in English, Swedish, and Polish. Her latest publications include: The Twentieth Century in European Memory, Amsterdam 2017; Disputed Memory. Emotions and Memory Politics in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, Berlin/Boston 2016 (both edited with Tea Sindbaek Andersen); and Whose Memory? Which Future? Remembering Ethnic Cleansing and Lost Cultural Diversity in Eastern, Central and Southeastern Europe, New York/London, 2016.

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The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is funded by:


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