Vienna Holocaust researchers quit over archives row

Tue Jul 28, 2009 6:02pm EDT
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By Sylvia Westall

VIENNA (Reuters) - A new Holocaust research center designed to build on the work of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal was in jeopardy on Tuesday because of a row between researchers and a Jewish group over access to archives.

The seven-person academic team said it had quit the project to set up a Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies in Vienna which would combine Wiesenthal's huge documents archive with that of the local Jewish community.

The institute was intended to provide research and documentation of anti-Semitism, racism and the Holocaust.

But project researcher Anton Pelinka said the group representing Vienna's Jewish community (IKG) had blocked access to the community archive for months despite having initially given the go-ahead.

"The (Institute's) future is now completely in the hands of the IKG," Pelinka said in an e-mail.

"When they allow us access to the archive, then the Institute has a future, but none if they do not."

But the IKG denied it was blocking access to the archives saying it had been working hard to temporarily hand over part of the archive and was waiting for a response from the Institute's lawyer, IKG President Ariel Muzicant said.

"This should take place without pressure, ultimatums or resignations," Muzicant said in a statement entitled "IKG response to the resignation of the Institute's board."   Continued...