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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
Nanci Adler: The Future of the Stalinist Past
   

Thursday, 21. November 2019, 18:30 - 20:00

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

 

What are the prospects for reconciliation when the state denies, ignores, or co-opts a history of repression? Thirty years after the end of a dictatorship that claimed millions of victims, aside from symbolic reparations, the post-Soviet government(s) have implemented little of the institutionalised transitional justice mechanisms to reckon with this past. There has been a persistent, politically-driven effort to manage national and public memory by repressing, controlling, or even co-opting the memory of repression. Now, as under Khrushchev and Gorbachev, the government sanctions the immortalisation of victims, but draws a thick line when it comes to the discussion of the perpetrators. Not one henchman has been tried, nor one truth commission instigated, victim compensation is limited, as is archival access, the record in history textbooks is a political narrative, and researchers of Stalinism are once again harassed on spurious charges. It was not until 2015 that the state sanctioned the plan for an offcial monument to the victims of Stalinism. Most of them did not live to see it erected. This lecture will focus on some of the causes and consequences of post-Soviet Russia’s ambivalent attitude toward its Stalinist past, and reflect on how to move beyond current impasses.

Nanci Adler is Professor of Memory, History, and Transitional Justice at the University of Amsterdam and Programme Director at the Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies (NIOD). She has authored and/or edited, among others, Keeping Faith with the Party. Communist Believers Return from the Gulag (2012), The Gulag Survivor. Beyond the Soviet System (2002), Victims of Soviet Terror. The Story of the Memorial Movement (1993), and Understanding the Age of Transitional Justice. Crimes, Courts, Commissions, and Chronicling (2018). Her research focuses on transitional justice and the legacy of communism.

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

 

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