Joseph Wulf

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Joseph Wulf
Joseph Wulf (1940).jpg
Joseph Wulf, identification photograph. Occupied Krakow, August 1940
Born (1912-12-22)December 22, 1912
Chemnitz, Kingdom of Saxony, German Empire (now Free State of Saxony, Germany)
Died October 10, 1974(1974-10-10) (aged 61)
Charlottenburg, West Berlin (now Berlin)
Nationality German
Occupation Historian
Known for Wannsee House Memorial

Joseph Wulf (22 December 1912 – 10 October 1974) was a German-Polish-Jewish historian and Holocaust survivor.

Early life[edit]

Born in Chemnitz, the child of a Jewish family, Wulf was educated in Krakow. At the Jewish university there he was trained as a Rabbi. After the German occupation of Poland in the Second World War the Wulf family was deported to the Krakow Ghetto.[1] There Wulf joined a Jewish group of resistance fighters. He was captured and imprisoned in Auschwitz Concentration Camp, and he survived after fleeing one of the notorious death marches. His wife and son survived the war, but he lost his father, mother, brother, sister-in-law, and niece.[2]

Postwar historian[edit]

At war's end Wulf remained in Poland, and was from 1945 to 1947 executive member of the Central Jewish Historical Commission. In the summer of 1947 he moved to Paris and worked for the Centre pour l'Histoire des Juifs Polonais. In 1952 Wulf moved to Berlin.[2] Wulf published many books about the Third Reich, among them biographies of Heinrich Himmler and Martin Bormann.

Wulf was honored with the Leo Baeck Prize (1961), the Carl von Ossietzky Medal (1964),[3] and an honorary doctorate from the Free University of Berlin.[citation needed]

Wannsee Memorial[edit]

Wannsee House

In 1965, Wulf proposed that the Wannsee House, the site of the Wannsee Conference in 1942, should be made into a Holocaust memorial and document centre, but the German government was not interested at that time. The building was in use as a school, and funding was not available.

Despondent, Wulf committed suicide in 1974 by jumping from the fifth floor window of his apartment at Giesebrechtstraße 12 in Charlottenburg. In his last letter to his son David, he wrote, "I have published 18 books about the Third Reich and they have had no effect. You can document everything to death for the Germans. There is a democratic regime in Bonn. Yet the mass murderers walk around free, live in their little houses, and grow flowers."[4] Wulf is buried in Holon on the central coast of Israel, south of Tel Aviv.

On 20 January 1992, on the fiftieth anniversary of the conference, the site was finally opened as a Holocaust memorial and museum. In the dining room where the conference was held, photographs and biographies of the participants hang on the wall. The museum also hosts permanent exhibits of texts and photographs that document events of the Holocaust and its planning. The Joseph Wulf Bibliothek/Mediothek on the second floor houses a large collection of books on the Nazi era, plus other materials such as microfilms and original Nazi documents.[3]


  • Das Dritte Reich und die Juden, Berlin 1955 (together with Léon Poliakov). A slightly adapted edition was also published in Dutch: Het Derde Rijk en de Joden, Amsterdam 1956
  • Das Dritte Reich und seine Diener, Berlin 1956 (with Poliakov)
  • Das Dritte Reich und seine Denker, Berlin 1959 (with Poliakov)
  • Die Nürnberger Gesetze, Berlin 1960
  • Heinrich Himmler, Berlin 1960
  • Das Dritte Reich und seine Vollstrecker – Die Liquidation von 500.000 Juden im Ghetto Warschau, Berlin 1961
  • Martin Bormann – Hitlers Schatten, Gütersloh 1962
  • Aus dem Lexikon der Mörder, Gütersloh 1963
  • Musik im Dritten Reich, Gütersloh 1963
  • Die bildenden Künste im Dritten Reich, Gütersloh 1963
  • Literatur und Dichtung im Dritten Reich, Gütersloh 1963
  • Theater und Film im Dritten Reich, Gütersloh 1963
  • Presse und Funk im Dritten Reich, Gütersloh 1964
  • Raoul Wallenberg: Il fut leur espérance, Paris 1968 (first published Colloquium Verlag, Berlin 1958)


  1. ^ Berg 2008, p. 170.
  2. ^ a b Lehrer 2000, p. 132.
  3. ^ a b Lehrer 2000, p. 135.
  4. ^ Lehrer 2000, p. 134.


  • Berg, Nicolas (2008). Bankier, David; Michman, Dan, eds. Joseph Wulf. A Forgotten Outsider Among Holocaust Scholars. Holocaust Historiography in Context. Emergence, Challenges, Polemics and Achievements. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem. pp. 167–206. 
  • Lehrer, Steven (2000). Wannsee House and the Holocaust. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-0792-7.