The Wiener Library and JCIO
The Wiener Library’s mission is to serve scholars, professional researchers, the media and the public as a library of record; to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in understanding the Holocaust and its historical context through an active educational programme; to be a living memorial to the evils of the past by ensuring that the Library’s collections are put at the service of the future; to oppose antisemitism and other forms of prejudice and intolerance.
Dr Wiener and his family fled Germany in 1933 and settled in Amsterdam. Dr Wiener's first archive is believed to have been destroyed. Later that year he set up the Central Jewish Information Office. The JCIO essentially continued the work of the earlier archive.
Following the November Pogrom of 1938, Wiener prepared to bring his collection to the UK. It arrived the following summer and is believed to have opened on the day the Nazis invaded Poland.
Throughout the War the JCIO served the British Government as it fought the Nazi regime. Post-war, the Library assisted the prosecutors at the Nuremberg Trial, amassed early survivor testimony and helped to shape the emerging academic study of the Holocaust.
Today, the collection is among the largest and most respected in the world and continues to grow. In 2011 it moved to new premises in Russell Square and began a programme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve access and open its collections to the widest possible audience.
...a small team monitoring, documenting and reporting internationally about Nazi policies and practices
The Wiener Library today is the heir of the work that Dr Alfred Wiener (1885-1964), a German Jew, initiated in Berlin from the late 1920s to combat antisemitism, under the auspices of the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith (Central-Verein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens). He perceived the rising threat from the Nazi Party and he was the driving force behind the setting up of an archive called Büro Wilhelmstrasse to collect intelligence about the Nazis that could inform campaigns to undermine their activities. The Büro became a small team collecting information about the rise of the Nazi regime and the details of antisemitic policies and regulations that Jews in Germany and the Third Reich were increasingly being subjected to. The Büro communicated this information internationally and Wiener wrote, lobbied and spoke in public.
The Büro and Wiener and his family were at greater risk once the Nazi Party had come to power in Germany in 1933. In order to be able to continue the work of collecting and disseminating information about the worsening situation for Jews under the Nazis, Wiener moved with his family to Amsterdam. There, he and Dr David Cohen, a prominent figure in the Dutch Jewish community, secured the interest and support of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Anglo-Jewish Association to establish a new organisation that could continue the efforts made by the Büro Wilhelmstrasse in monitoring, documenting and reporting internationally about Nazi policies and practices. Wiener again established a small team for this new Jewish Central Information Office (JCIO), and he found premises for it and an apartment for his family at Jan van Eyckstraat 14, Amsterdam-Zuid.
For over five years between 1934 and 1939 the JCIO team gathered large amounts of documents and other evidence and issued numerous reports and bulletins recording events mainly in Germany and Austria, which it mailed internationally to governments, journalists, politicians, Jewish organisations and others. Following the November terror in 1938 and mounting evidence of the Nazi regime's aggressive territorial ambitions, Amsterdam ceased to be a safe place for the JCIO to stay. Accordingly, the staff packed up much of the accumulated archive and shipped it to London in the summer of 1939. Throughout the war the JCIO served the British government by providing reports and intelligence from abroad. Increasingly the collection was referred to as ‘Dr Wiener's Library' and eventually this led to its renaming.
C.C. Aronsfeld (1910-2002)
Alfred Wiener’s assistant in London, where Wiener recruited him in 1938. He obtained accreditation as a journalist for a succession of short visas for the Netherlands which enabled him to work intermittently in Amsterdam and in London for the JCIO; after WWII he edited the Wiener Library Bulletin and in 1961 became acting director of the Wiener Library until he left in 1966 to become Senior Research Officer at the Institute of Jewish Affairs.
Louis Bondy (1910-1993)
Born into a cultured Jewish family in Berlin, his father was a well-known journalist. Bondy studied architecture in Berlin and Geneva; between 1932 and 1936 he found work as a journalist, translator, barman and photographer in Paris, Spain and London. He applied for a job at the JCIO in Amsterdam and Alfred Wiener recruited him in 1937; in Amsterdam he met Elisabeth Leda, a secretary at the JCIO from 1934 onwards, and married her in 1939; Bondy was the first of the JCIO staff to go to London to find premises. From August 1940, when Wiener left London for New York, Bondy became de facto head of the Wiener Library; after the war he became a bookseller in Bloomsbury and specialised in miniature books.
Prof. Dr. David Cohen (1882-1967)
Born in Deventer, he studied classics at Leyden, Leipzig and Göttingen. He set up the Zionist students’ organisation as well as the first Dutch Zionist youth groups; he taught classics in Leyden and became professor of ancient history at Amsterdam in 1926. Together with Abraham Asscher and three others he founded the Comité voor Bijzondere Joodse Belangen [Committee for Special Jewish Affairs] and Comité voor Joodsche Vluchtelingen [Committee for Jewish Refugees] in the early 1930s to assist the increasing numbers of refugees arriving in the Netherlands. Alfred Wiener approached Cohen in 1933 for assistance to establish the JCIO in Amsterdam, and Cohen became its president and lent his prestige and influence to its work. From February 1941 Cohen and Asscher led the Joodsche Raad [Jewish Council], which cooperated with the German authorities in the Netherlands and implemented its anti-Semitic policies, attracting much criticism at the time and later. Cohen was among the last Jews to be deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto; after his release in May 1945 he was convicted of collaboration (which was annulled in 1950); he resumed his university work in Amsterdam.
Dr. Eva Reichmann (1897-1998; née Jungmann)
Historian and sociologist, she worked for the Central-Verein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens (CV) [Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith] (1924-1938). She married a prominent CV official, Hans Reichmann (1900-1964), and edited the monthly magazine Der Morgen [The Morning] (1933-1938). The couple emigrated via the Netherlands to Great Britain in 1939, where she worked for the BBC and for the Wiener Library (1945-1959), becoming the Library's research director; she was also on the boards of the Association of Jewish Refugees and the Leo Baeck Institute. Novemberpogrom report B. 87 has handwritten comments by her.
Dr. Alfred Wiener (1885-1964)
Born in Potsdam, Wiener studied history, philosophy, Jewish theology and Arabic in Berlin. He was in the Middle East from 1909 to 1911 and was a soldier in the German Army in WWI, awarded an Iron Cross. From 1919 he worked in the Central-Verein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens [Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith], where he identified the NSDAP as a threat in 1925. He helped to found the Büro Wilhelmstrasse in 1928 to gather intelligence about the Nazi regime and antisemitism and disseminate it internationally; he continued similar work in Amsterdam between 1933 and 1939 by setting up the Jewish Central Information Office (JCIO) with Dr David Cohen. In the summer of 1939 Wiener obtained visas for all the JCIO staff (which Kurt Zielenziger apparently hid) and much of its books and documents were taken from Amsterdam to London. His wife and three daughters stayed behind and were later caught and deported to Bergen Belsen and liberated in 1945 but his wife died shortly afterward. Wiener spent most of WWII in the USA, continuing intelligence gathering work for the British government and others, and returned to London in 1945. He reorganised the former JCIO into a library and research centre (subsequently named the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide); he retired in 1961.
Kurt Zielenziger (1890-1944)
Born in Potsdam, he studied social sciences and graduated in 1912, and worked for various chambers of commerce and as a journalist and scholar. In 1919 he became deputy chief and later chief of the Berlin Press Office. He met Alfred Wiener in Berlin and occasionally contributed to the CV Zeitung; from 1926 he was Political Editor of the Vossiche Zeitung [oldest Berlin daily paper, liberal]. His best known book on the Jewish contribution to the German economy (Juden in der deutschen Wirtschaft) was published in 1930 and he also wrote for the Encyclopedia Judaica and Handwörterbuch der Staatswissenschaft [Concise Dictionary of Political Science]. He and his family left Germany for Paris in 1933 but moved to Amsterdam at Wiener's invitation to Zielenziger to join the Jewish Central Information Office as office manager and deputy director. Wiener left for London in 1939 but Zielenziger apparently did not wish to close the JCIO or leave Amsterdam, and he hid the visas that Wiener had obtained for the staff; Zielenziger was caught by the Nazis and taken to Bergen Belsen concentration camp where he perished in 1944.
- Miss C. Asser - archives
- Joseph Bettelheim - office manager
- Anneliese Bielschowski (b 8.7.1907 Berlin) - Wiener’s private secretary (1934-1939); continued to work at the JCIO until the German invasion
- James Cohen - Krieg’s assistant
- Miss S. Delde - Krieg’s assistant
- Mrs Friedlaender - typist
- Philipp Hart - office boy
- Miss N. Kohn - archives
- Bernhard Krieg (b 8.10.1908 Berlin or 20.4.1905) - book keeper and cashier; taken to the transit camp Westerbork with Wiener’s wife and children; deported to Bergen-Belsen; perished
- Miss Leda - assistant secretary
- Miss E. Mendelson - typist
- Mrs Veltman - archives