Legacy of the Holocaust
Ben Barkow, the director of the Wiener Library, and his personal assistant, Margaret Daly
Rosalind Renshaw

It was not, said the cabbie as we drove towards the building that houses the world’s largest collection of Holocaust material, an address he knew. “Not part of The Knowledge,” was the explanation he offered.

Yet the Wiener Library, in Devonshire Street, Central London, should surely be on our radar. “It was started by Alfred Wiener, a German Jew, who as early as 1919 wrote a pamphlet warning of the dangers posed by the Nazis,” says the library’s director, Ben Barkow. “He began collecting everything he could. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Wiener fled to Amsterdam, where he set up the Jewish Cultural Information Office.”

The earlier collection was abandoned in Germany, but Wiener renewed his efforts in the Dutch city. In 1939 the archives were transferred to London and renamed. Today the library is bursting with oppressive and disturbing evidence of man’s inhumanity to man.