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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
Dariusz Stola: Coming to Terms With the Holocaust in Poland. From Soul-Searching to Backlash
   

Thursday, 5. March 2020, 18:30 - 20:00

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

 

After decades of communist distortions and marginalisation of the Holocaust in public remembrance, democratic Poland emerged as a leader in efforts to come to terms with this diffcult past. Several major debates on Polish reactions to the crime intensively engaged public opinion. New monuments, educational programs and works by writers, fillmmakers and other artists have contributed to the growing awareness and interest in Polish-Jewish history, and the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews opened in Warsaw to great acclaim. These developments synergised with a substantial progress in Holocaust research. However, in recent years we have seen a backlash against this tendency. Prominent politicians and media of the right have rejected it as a “pedagogy of shame” and called for a glorious vision of national history, focussing on heroism and victimhood. Holocaust distortion has assertively expanded. The memory of the Shoah remains a key battlefield of the culture war that divides Poland today.

Dariusz Stola is a historian and professor at the Polish Academy of Sciences. From 2014 to 2019, he was the director of the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. He has published ten books and many articles on the history of Polish-Jewish relations, international migrations and the communist regime, as well as on Polish debates on these topics, including Kampania anty­ syjonistyczna w Polsce, 1967­-1968 (The anti-Zionist campaign in Poland, 1967-1968, Warsaw 2001) and Kraj bez wyjścia: migracje z Polski 1949­-1989 (A country with no exit? Migrations from Poland, 1949-1989, Warsaw 2010).

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

 

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