The Joseph Wulf Library in the House of the Wannsee Conference

On January 20, 1942, senior officers of the SS and police, state ministries and the Nazi Party gathered at Berlin’s Wannsee lake in Villa Minoux, the Security Police and Security Service (SD) chief’s guest house. They met to discuss a “final solution to the Jewish Question.” The conference’s minutes, taken by Adolf Eichmann, became a core document for the organization of the Nazi genocide.
The first plans for an “international documentation center for the research of National Socialism and its consequences” at the Conference’s historical site began in 1966. They came to fruition, however, only in the late 1980s. The building and its garden were reconstructed in 1988 according to landmark preservation principles for use as a memorial site. In 1992 the House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site was officially opened on the premises of the villa.
The villa’s ground floor holds the permanent exhibition on “The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of the European Jews.” It traces the process of how the Jews under German rule were ostracized, persecuted, deported, ghettoized and destroyed between 1933 and 1945.
The memorial site offers diverse educational services (guided tours of the exhibition with discussions, single- and multi-day seminars). Its target groups are students in all schools, young people in professional training, adults in continuing professional or political education and disseminators. The Memorial Site has also devised “study days” adapted for members of various professions examining how leaders of the trade or profession in question acted as the Nazis’ crimes unfolded.
The Joseph Wulf Library is located on the building’s second floor and has remained part of the memorial’s educational concept from the start. As such it is open both to seminar participants for their work with printed and filmed material as well as to individual visitors. The library is named after the historian Joseph Wulf (1912-1974), who tried unsuccessfully to establish a documentation center in the villa in the 1960s. The collection focuses on the history of the Jews in Europe, anti-Semitism, persecution and genocide, National Socialism, racism, neo-Nazism, remembrance culture, treatment of Nazi history after 1945 and memorial site educational studies.
The book collection currently includes some 40,000 monographs and 18,000 periodical volumes. In addition the library holds a large collection of documentary and feature films and a big set of periodicals and documents on microfilm and microfiche. Visitors can also search through various databases.
Besides scholarly literature and original documents, the Library also offers topical novels and children’s and youth literature, school textbooks and educational material. There is also a collection of memorial books and survivors’ accounts.
The Joseph Wulf Library is visited annually by more than 5,000 individuals. Besides academics and university students, these include school kids, interested tourists from across the world as well as visitors with personal motivations, e.g. researching relatives killed in the Holocaust. The close accompaniment of these various visitor groups is a special matter for us.
Our online catalogue lists all our books and periodicals, including those in the National Socialist collections. They also include all relevant essays in periodicals and anthologies. Our film collection is documented in a separate, internal database.
We transfer data from our catalogue monthly to the Berlin-Brandenburg Library Association (KOBV) and/or the periodical database as well as the catalogue of the Working Community of Memorial Site Libraries (AGGB).