A Nation's Lost Holocaust History, Now on Display

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When Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien, or Jewish Community Vienna, decided to sell a vacant building in the summer of 2000, two employees were sent to look for any archival material that might have been left behind.

What they found exceeded any historian’s dream: Stacked floor to ceiling in two rooms of one apartment sat some 800 dusty boxes containing, among other things, about half a million pages of detailed records of the community during the Holocaust — archives not known to have survived.

“Opening each box was extremely exciting,” said Lothar Hölbling, the chief archivist and one of the discoverers. “Eight hundred excitements.”

Now, after seven years of quiet work reordering, preserving and microfilming the archives — a joint project of Jewish Community Vienna and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington — the documents are about to be officially unveiled with a presentation at the museum on Thursday, followed by an exhibition, opening on July 3, at the Jewish Museum Vienna.

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