The Library

... if we must die

To the Library for the opening of an exhibition, 'Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust'. Always, in my family, -The- Library.

The Wiener Holocaust Library, established by my grandfather, Alfred Wiener, is now in Russell Square, in an elegant white fronted Georgian house, close to the Senate House of the University of London. Whenever I visit, proud as I am of this beautiful building, I emotionally connect to an earlier location, not far, on Devonshire Street. Crowded with books and papers, scented with dust and wood polish, occupied by scholars and refugees, supported by the dedicated librarians. A place that speaks of pain but is also full of light, and gentle humour.

The library has a compelling mission: to witness the Holocaust, Nazism and genocide through books, papers, archival material and personal accounts. To stand for, perhaps better, to show, the truth through evidence. Powerfully through the testimony of eyewitnesses, most powerfully through the direct words of perpetrators.

The exhibition speaks of defiance through armed opposition, rescue and movingly through cultural resistance. It speaks also of the small resistances that witness entails, my Aunt Ruth's diary (https://bit.ly/3C2xKTQ) is on display. The exhibition is also a reminder of the power of scholarship in sustaining the library and interpreting the materials it contains, this too is a form of resistance.