Joseph Wulf

Joseph Wulf (1912–1974) published the first documentary works on the Holocaust in German. He confronted German society with the crimes.

© Archiv Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste
Wulf at his desk in Berlin-Charlottenburg, date unknown.

Born in Chemnitz, Wulf grew up in Krakow, where he received a rabbinical education. Between 1941 and 1943, Wulf was active in the resistance in the ghettos of Krakow and Bochnia. In 1943, the Germans deported him to Auschwitz. During one of the death marches of 1945, he was able to flee. His wife and son survived, hidden by a Polish farmer.


After the war, he worked for the Central Jewish Historical Committee in Poland for two years. In 1947, while living in Paris, Wulf co-founded the Centre pour l’Histoire des Juifs Polonais (Centre for the History of Polish Jews). During his stay, he met Léon Poliakov. They would go on to publish several books together.

© Ursula Böhme
Joseph Wulf in the garden of the villa, where the „Wannsee Conference“ of 20 January 1942 took place.

From 1955 until his suicide in 1974, Joseph Wulf lived in Berlin. He researched the history of the Holocaust and the culture of the destroyed Polish Jewry. In his publications, Wulf focused on German sources to better educate German society about the crimes committed in their name. He named the perpetrators in various sectors of society, which was met with great resistance in German post-war society.

“I have published 18 books about the Third Reich without any effect. When it comes to the Germans, you can document yourself to death, there can be the most democratic government in Bonn – the mass murderers will still walk freely, they will still have their houses and grow flowers.”

Joseph Wulf
© Ursula Böhme
Joseph Wulf in his apartment in Giesebrechtstrasse in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Over his desk was placed the reminder: “Remember the 6 Million!”.

Wulf also tried to found a research institute on National Socialism and its aftermath at the house where the “Wannsee Conference” had taken place in 1942. Wulf did not see his efforts come to fruition: The Memorial and Educational Site House of the Wannsee Conference was only established in 1992. Its library bears his name.

Joseph Wulf by Till Stumpf

Extract from the online event for the special exhibition "Crimes Uncovered. The First Generation of Holocaust Researchers"