Events and Conferences:

Ordnung muss sein: The Archive of the Jewish Community Vienna. An exhibition at the Jewish Museum Vienna 4 July - 21 October 2007

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The exhibition Ordnung muss sein at the Jewish Museum Vienna ran from 4 July 2007 until  21 October 2007 at the Palais Eskeles. The exhibition comprised material from the archives of the Jewish community which were discovered in 2000 in a vacant apartment in a tenement building in the 15th district. The oldest documents date back to the 17th century, and 500,000 pages were identified as from the Nazi era. The reports, letters, emigration and financial documents, deportation lists, card indexes, books, photographs, maps, and charts from that era detail the final years of the once-largest German-speaking Jewish community in Europe. The card indexes and files kept during the Nazi era provided the basis for investigating the fate of Jews who had been expelled or killed and also helped survivors and the descendants of victims to assert claims for compensation and restitution of property.

 

The Jewish Museum’s web text is below and their flyer is available here as a pdf document.

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Ordnung muss sein

The Archive of the Jewish Community Vienna


In the year 2000, employees of the Jewish Community Vienna (IKG) made a startling discovery. In a vacant apartment in one of the community's tenement buildings in Vienna's 15th district they came upon dozens of wooden cabinets containing index cards, a pile of large-sized books reaching from the floor to the ceiling and 800 cardboard boxes filled with files and documents from IKG holdings. On closer inspection, some 500,000 pages were identified as dating from the National Socialist era in Austria. They were mixed with younger material but also with older material from the 19th and early 20th century. A long forgotten part of the IKG archival holdings had been found again.

In cooperation with the Holocaust Victims' Information and Support Center of the IKG and with the support of the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People Jerusalem, the Jewish Museum Vienna for the first time will be staging an exhibition on the IKG archive in summer 2007.

The archive was officially founded in 1816, but the oldest documents date back to the seventeenth century. The archive was professionally organized and classified during the nineteenth century.

The IKG holdings, which are unique in terms of scope and completeness, span 300 years from the beginning of the Viennese Jewish community to the post-Holocaust period, documenting the community's organization, its religious, education, scientific, cultural and charity facilities and providing information about its officials and members. Unlike other disbanded Jewish communities in Germany and Austria, the IKG continued to exist during the Nazi era until the end of October 1942 when it was finally replaced by a "Judenrat". From May 1938 it took care of tens of thousands of Jews and organized their emigration, and from February 1941 it was forced to participate in the deportation of the remaining Jewish population. The reports, letters, emigration and financial documents, deportation lists, card indexes, books, photographs, maps, and charts from that era detail the final years of the once-largest German-speaking Jewish community in Europe before and during the Holocaust. After 1945 and once more since the rediscovery of the archival holdings the card indexes and files kept during the Nazi era provided the basis for investigating the fate of Jews who had been expelled or killed and also helped survivors and the descendants of victims to assert claims for compensation and restitution of property.

In the 1950s it came to a cesura when most of the archive was lent to the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem. By microfilming the documents in Jerusalem, by preserving, organizing, categorizing and microfilming the documentation that remains in Vienna, and by uniting the holdings and making them accessible in a planned Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) the IKG is attempting 50 years later to reconstruct its institutional memory and restore to Austria a piece of its history.

The exhibition not only shows important aspects of the history of the Jewish Community Vienna on the basis of historical documents but also examines the notion of the archive as a place of remembrance and the problem of organizing and classifying historical information.

 

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