The Weiner Library is the worlds oldest Holocaust Collection and was started in the 1920s by Dr. Alfred Weiner. Dr.Weiner was born into a German Jewish family and became an academic but in 1914 he was drafted and served in Palestine. He was awarded the Iron Crescent for his bravery and service on the eastern front. In the 1920s he began collecting information about the National Socialists, when Hitler came to power he was devastated and in 1933 he decided to emigrate to Amsterdam. He managed to bring about half of his collection and work with him. This is where many date the library to, 1933, when others began to be able to access it for information. From Amsterdam he worked to warn the rest of the world about what was happening in Germany. The office he ran was called the Jewish Central Information office.
The collection includes many first hand accounts, even ones from kristallnacht. Some of the collection never made it out of Amsterdam when Dr.Weiner fled in 1940, but what did make it out was used to supply information for the Nuremburg trials and to aid those still looking for family and friends. The collection is still adding material today, and has expanded to look at other genocides as well. While the bulk of the information available is about the Jewish population there is some on the other groups that were persecuted at the time, but it is more fragmented. The collection also has a digital component that can be accessed online. It also contains 17,000 photographs. The storage for this collection is underground beneath the library and also in off site storage out in Surrey.
Of all the interesting things this collection contains there are a few that caught my eye. There is a German Youth (aka Hitler Youth) cut out and coloring book, and a game like monopoly called Yuden Rouse (“Jews Out”) in which the kids collect Jews to get rid of them and the one with the most at the end of the game is the winner. The collection has quite a lot of Nazi propaganda aimed towards children like this. They also have some artifacts that were used to get information around secretly, such as tea packets that instead of containing tea contained leaflets with information about what was really going on in Germany. This way even if homes were searched the information would not be found and the people would not be punished.
It is an impressive collection, made even more so by the fact that much of what is there are first hand accounts and things that were smuggled and shipped out before the Nazi’s could get a hold of it.