‘A vital resource for humanity’: more than £400k raised for UK’s Holocaust Archive

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‘A vital resource for humanity’: more than £400k raised for UK’s Holocaust Archive

Lord Daniel Finkelstein and Tracy Ann Oberman guests at historic gala dinner for Wiener Holocaust Library

Dr Toby Simpson, Luciana Berger, Tracy Ann Oberman, Jonathan Freedland (C) Blake Ezra Photography 2024
Dr Toby Simpson, Luciana Berger, Tracy Ann Oberman, Jonathan Freedland (C) Blake Ezra Photography 2024

A fundraising dinner to mark the 90th anniversary of the Wiener Holocaust Library has raised more than £400k.

The gala evening welcomed supporters, cultural figures, politicians and philanthropists to the Wallace Collection, just yards from the Library’s first headquarters in London, after a wartime escape from Amsterdam by Dr Alfred Wiener just before the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

The funds raised will go towards preserving the Library’s unique collection – the oldest cache of evidence of the Holocaust and the history of antisemitism in the world.

Speaking at the dinner, the grandson of the Library’s founder, Lord Daniel Finkelstein described the institution as a “vital resource for humanity”.

He thanked the champions of the collection who had kept it together over the last 90 years, adding that “the Library tells the truth, and the truth won’t tell itself. [The Library] is here to help us at this profoundly dangerous moment in human affairs.
At a moment when all we have learnt is under threat. When all we seek to protect is again in danger.

“It is here, but it is only here because of acts of will and determination and clarity of thought and generosity. It is a wonderful institution, efficient, forward looking, admired, able to do great things with its resources. But it is only these things because in each generation there were people who understood its importance.

Luciana Berger and Tracy Ann Oberman (C) Blake Ezra Photography 2024

“In each generation there were people who saw its value. In each generation there were people who matched Alfred’s willingness to do his duty, to do whatever it took, to go that extra mile, to make sure the truth was told. And now that generation, the one on which the library depends, that generation is us.”

The Chair of the Library’s board of trustees, Anthony Landes, invited all who attended to use the celebration of the Library’s 90th anniversary to “reaffirm our commitment to the values of tolerance, understanding and compassion that lie at the heart of our mission. Together, we can ensure that the memory of the Holocaust lives on, and that the lessons of history continue to inspire us to build a better future for all, free from hatred and prejudice.”

Dr Toby Simpson, Lady Barbara Davis, Sir Mick Davis, Lord Daniel Finkelstein, Anthony Landes(C) Blake Ezra Photography 2024

Guests also heard a reading of a testimony held in the Library’s collection, read by
actress and playwright, Tracy Ann Oberman. The testimony, from a collection of 1,300 eyewitness accounts collected by the Library in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, recounts the story of Mala Zimetbaum, a Polish-Belgian Jewish woman who made a daring escape from Auschwitz before being re-captured, tortured, and killed.

Sir Mick Davis, who hosted the evening with his wife Lady Barbara Davis said: “We need to teach this and future generations to recognise evil, not to pander to it and certainly not to aid and abet it. If we do not, then a calamity will befall humanity once again.”

“Alfred Wiener identified the evil of Nazism long before everyone else. He understood the devastation it would bring when it first raised its head in Weimar Germany. He studied it. He wrote it down. He documented it. He knew that future generations would need to truly understand this evil – the hate, the death, the inhumanity – if we were to stop this plague befalling the world again.

Pic: Wiener Library

“The Wiener Library was the first to do this and has been doing it ever since, with the most compelling collection of testimony, documents, and Holocaust materials. It is at the vanguard of teaching us to recognise evil, and of teaching us to actively oppose evil and not be aligned with it. It was relevant when he started his work in the late 1920’s and it is still relevant today.”

(C) Blake Ezra Photography 2024

The Library’s Director, Dr Toby Simpson, paid tribute to those who have supported the Library over its 90 year history, particularly people who themselves survived the Holocaust. He said: “It has been the privilege of my life to meet so many people who are absolutely committed to the work Alfred Wiener
began, Holocaust survivors first and foremost. For them and for us, the Wiener Library will always be a beacon of light. It is in the darkest times that the evidence matters most.”

Ahead of the Library’s centenary in 2033, plans have been announced for a refurbishment of the Russell Square exhibition space and the launch of a digital library, meaning digitised Holocaust evidence can be accessed from all over the world.

  • To support the Wiener Library, click here
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