Testaments to the Holocaust is a fully searchable digital archive of this extensive collection of primary sources, including:
- 1,200 eyewitness accounts
- 4,000 rare photographs
- 450 books
- Nazi propaganda material including: Nazi calendars, Hitler youth materials, a rare encyclopedia of anti-Semitism, songbooks and more
Testaments to the Holocaust — with an English-German interface — is an essential tool for research into Jewish, holocaust, military, political, local, family and modern German history, including:
- Domestic policies of Nazi Germany
- Jewish life in Germany from 1933 to after the World War II
- Experiences in concentration camps
- Life in hiding
- Refugee life
- And more
Summary: Testaments to the Holocaust, a digitized, searchable full-text and image resource, provides the basis for studying Nazi Germany and its crimes from many perspectives. It builds a history of the period through people’s testimonies, family narratives and the documents of the activities of the Nazi regime. Complemented by appropriate secondary literature, this collection delivers outstanding opportunities to gain insights into a dark period of history.
Taken from the Wiener Library in London, England — the oldest institution in the world established to document the Nazi regime and its crimes against the Jewish people — this unique archive is organized into four sections.
1. Original Nazi propaganda materials. Testaments to the Holocaust gives unprecedented access to scarce primary sources of Nazi propaganda — material which are essential for serious study of the period. Users will find:
- Illustrated books and pamphlets expressing viewpoints favorable to Nazis and hostile to their political and “racial” enemies
- Calendars produced by Nazi organizations showing the regime’s overriding concern with propaganda
- Sigilla Veri, a rare encyclopedia of anti-Semitism and a document that was available only from the publisher (those obtaining a copy were required to sign a declaration attesting that they were not of Jewish descent)
- Propaganda pertaining to the Hitler Youth such as songbooks with lyrics extolling the glories of the Third Reich
2. Eyewitness accounts. From the late 1930s through the 1950s, many Holocaust survivors preferred not to discuss the terrors they had so recently endured. The group whose experiences are documented in Testaments to the Holocaust were the exception. Their accounts have emotional impact — given the freshness of their memories — and are historically significant. Eyewitness accounts are grouped into two categories:
- Accounts gathered in the weeks and months after the November pogrom of 1938
- Accounts assembled after 1955 (interviews, letters, documents and especially-written accounts)
3. Photographic material. Nothing can communicate the essential horror of what occurred in Europe during World War II more than photographic images. Confronting this material is disturbing, but necessary for a true understanding of history. Testaments to the Holocaust includes:
- Digitized archival photos chronicling the life of Central European Jews before the Nazi takeover
- Photos of life in Weimar Germany, illustrating periods of civil unrest and poverty
- Images showing Nazi election campaigns, public appearances of Hitler and more
- Graphic depictions detailing the Nazi persecution of Jews — visual evidence of death squads, Jewish ghettos and concentration camps
4. Wiener Library publications. Covering a time span from the early 1930s to the mid 1960s, these reports covered events in Germany and Europe as they were unfolding and testified to Jewish efforts to resist the onslaught of the Nazis. Post-war publications document the slow emergence of Holocaust-related issues as topics of academic discourse. The Wiener Library Bulletin, in particular, remains an invaluable source of information on virtually all aspects of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
An introduction to Testaments to the Holocaust by Ben Barkow, Director of the Wiener Library, guides users through the collection. Two thematic essays by leading scholars act as research guides to the origins of the Holocaust and to prisons, ghettos and camps.
Testaments to the Holocaust contains documents written in three languages — German (75%), English (20%) and French (3%). A fully bilingual interface allows users to search the archive in English or German.
Significance: Testaments to the Holocaust is a one-of-a-kind resource sourced from the world’s oldest Holocaust museum. The Weiner Library accounts are unique because:
- They were collected at an early date — when the memories were fresh and raw
- They predate the coining of the terms “Holocaust” and “Shoah” to describe the Nazi genocide
- They are not influenced by the mass of scholarly research, popular writing and film and television programs produced since the mid-1960s
The Holocaust is studied at every academic level — from K-12 to post-doctoral research. Testaments to the Holocaust serves as an essential archive for the study of the Holocaust, offering unforgettable insights into one of the darkest periods of history.
Source: The Wiener Library is the oldest institution in the world established for the task of documenting the Nazi regime and its crimes against the Jewish people. In 1928, Alfred Wiener was involved with an initiative called the Büro Wilhelmstrasse to collect all available information about the Nazi Party, its leaders and its activities. The Büro Wilhelmstrasse collected newspapers, journals, pamphlets, leaflets and ephemeral matter produced by or relating to the Nazis and used these as the basis for campaigns against the Nazis. In the few years of its existence, the Büro Wilhelmstrasse amassed a collection of nearly 200,000 items and was probably the largest collection of material about the Nazis at the time. During Hitler’s reign, the material was hidden and presumed lost.
In 1933, Weiner partnered with Professor David Cohen to set up the Jewish Central Information Office (JCIO) and continued the Büro Wilhelmstrasse’s work. The JCIO would later move to London were it focused on supplying information to government departments while publishing two periodicals, Nazis at War and The Jewish News. The JCIO was eventually renamed, The Weiner Library.
Testaments to the Holocaust reproduces a selection of the holdings of The Weiner Library making rare and unique historical material available to researchers worldwide.
To download thematic essays:
- Introduction to Testaments
of the Holocaust
Ben Barkow, General Editor & Director of the Wiener Library, London
- Prisons, ghettos,
camps: Jews in captivity under the Third Reich [pdf,
Nikolaus Wachsmann, Birkbeck College, University of London
- The Origins of the Holocaust
Professor Dan Stone, Royal Holloway College, University of London
For more information, download a Product Fact Sheet [pdf, 420 KB]
Post-War Europe: Refugees, Exile and Resettlement, 1945–1950
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