London's Institute of Contemporary Hisotry and Wiener Library - and Warsaw's Jewish Historical Institute to Receive the 1999 Roger E. Joseph Prize

Thursday, April 1, 1999

Who: The Institute of Contemporary History and Wiener Library Limited, in London, and Jewish Historical Institute, in Warsaw, will be recognized for their preservation and dissemination of historic information about the destruction of European Jewry during the Holocaust.

What: The Roger E. Joseph Prize is an international award presented annually to an individual or organization which, by virtue of religious and moral commitment, has made a distinctive contribution to humanity. Established in 1978, previous recipients of the $10,000 award include Victor Kugler, who gave refuge to Anne Frank and her family during the Holocaust; Helen Suzman, the South African anti-apartheid activist; Rosa Parks, the mother of the modern American civil rights movement; the village of Le Chambon, which gave refuge to Jews and Christians fleeing the Nazis during the Holocaust; posthumously to Johan Jorgen Holst, for facilitating the Middle East Peace Accords; and The Center for Victims of Torture and the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture.

Why: The Institute of Contemporary History and Weiner Library Limited, in London, is the world's oldest institution for the study of antisemitism and the crimes of Nazi Germany, the history of German and Central European Jewry, the Holocaust and its aftermath. First established by Dr. Alfred Wiener as a Jewish information service and archive in Berlin in 1928, it was founded in its present form in Amsterdam in 1933, after Dr. Wiener fled there with part of the archive, where it played a central role in the effort of Germany's Jewish community to defend itself against the lies and machinations of the Nazi regime. The Wiener Library moved to London in 1939, where it make a major contribution to Britain's war effort. After the war, the Library contributed significantly to the success of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials and, later, the Eichmann Trial. The Wiener Library also established the world's first largest collection of Eyewitness Accounts of the Holocaust. In addition to preserving its collection of books, periodicals, documents, photographs, eyewitness accounts, and video tapes, it sponsors academic conferences, scholarship and research. The Jewish Historical Institute, in Warsaw, is the oldest and largest institution devoted to the study of the history of the Jews in Poland, and contains Poland's largest collection of related archival, library and museum items. Dating back to 1881 as the library of the Great Synagogue on Tlomackie Street in Warsaw with a mission to collect documentation of local Jewish communities, its facility opened in 1936 with an expanded mission of research, pedagogy, and rabbinic and teach training, and the collection of works by Jewish artists. During the Holocaust, while its library was plundered and its building was partially destroyed, it was the center for the famous underground effort, directed by Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum, to research and document the life and liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto and other Polish Jewish communities. In December 1944, it was named the Jewish Historical Commission (C KH) and charged with the task of collecting documentation of the Holocaust and evidence in the trials of Nazi war criminals, and in 1947 renamed the Jewish Historical Institute ( IH). By 1950, when Jewish cultural and scholarly institutions were forced under state control, it absorbed the collections of local historical commissions, the Central Jewish Library, and the Jewish Association for Promotion of the Fine Arts and Historical Commissions. This established its current structure of a research division, archives, library, museum, and department for the documentation of monuments. The anti-Zionist campaign instigated by the Communist Party in 1967-68 irrevocably damaged the IH, with the emigration of staff, but today it has revived as a unique scholarly research institution and center for documentation, information and education.

When: The 1999 Roger E. Joseph Prize will be presented at HUC-JIR's Ordination and Investiture Services on Sunday, May 16 at 9 am.

Where: The ceremony will take place at Congregation Emanu-El in the City of New York, Fifth Avenue at 65th Street, New York City.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu