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Mission Statement

 

The importance of establishing a centre for the research and documentation of antisemitism, racism, and the Holocaust in Vienna arises not least from its very location. Vienna was an important centre for Jewish life and culture in the old Europe. Jews contributed decisively to cultural life and in particular to modernity. Simultaneously, even during the Habsburg era, Vienna was already clearly implicated in the emergence and spread of antisemitism. Following Austria’s Anschluß to the Third Reich, the Nazi persecution of the Jews intensified, a trend that emanated from Vienna. Furthermore, a notably large proportion of the Nazi personnel responsible for the execution of the Holocaust in Europe were recruited from Austria.

 

An inestimable supply of archival holdings and collections of sources that are of utmost importance to Austria and the international community for the investigation and presentation of the origins, the course, and the aftermath of the Holocaust are located in Vienna. The pivotal nature of the experience of the Second World War and the Holocaust in an increasingly uniting Europe add a European dimension to the establishment of such a centre in Vienna. The Holocaust is universally regarded as the legal and moral epitome of crimes against humanity.

 

The centre is dedicated to the exploration of the origins, the execution, and the aftermath of the mass destruction of European Jewry and other crimes committed by the Nazi regime and its accomplices against alleged racial and biological enemies. The centre will research the origins and aspects of the Holocaust, in particular in the Viennese and Austrian contexts, publishing its research results internationally. In doing so, it will play an important role in raising public awareness and contributing to the struggle against indifference in the face of crimes against humanity.

 

Holocaust research in Austria has to date lacked a responsible institutional body, financial resources, and co-operation. Both nationally and internationally, the centre provides an opportunity to connect existing organisations, projects, and ideas, exchange advice, and plan new initiatives. Beyond that, the centre will strive to open its facilities as a platform for the international exchange of researchers and the support of young scholars.

 

Both as an academic discipline and as an aspect of everyday life, historical knowledge forms a substantial component of the personal and political self-perception of individuals and groups. Historical awareness is decisive in shaping political and moral awareness, in particular for the younger generation later on in life. An enlightened and well considered education on the history of the Holocaust, the dehumanisation of its victims, the indifference of the bystanders, and the inhumane nature of the perpetrators can strengthen and promote the understanding of human dignity, the responsibility for one’s own political community, as well as personal moral courage.

 

The centre will present its research results for public discussion. These results will be presented in the forms of teaching/learning forums, publications and varying exhibits. To enable this, the centre is seeking to co-operate with the relevant federal ministries and appropriate state and community institutions, concentration camp memorial sites, adult education centres, as well as institutions dedicated to the arts and culture. The centre will co-operate with similar institutions such as Yad Vashem and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

 

The centre will bear Simon Wiesenthal’s name: “Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) Research – Documentation – Education”.

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

 

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wienkultur 179

 

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