The library is named after the historian Joseph Wulf (1912-1974).
Wulf was a Jewish resistance fighter and an Auschwitz survivor. After the war he lived in Poland, then moved to Paris and finally settled in Berlin in 1952. Here he published the first comprehensive studies about the Nazi regime and the Holocaust. In 1965 he called for the establishment of an International Documentation Centre on Nationalsocialism and its Consequences in the house where the Wannsee Conference took place. Although internationally renowned researchers supported the project, the West Berlin Senate would not relinquish ownership of the building.
Following renewed interest in the 1980s, the House was eventually re-opened as a memorial and educational site in January 1992, on the 50th anniversary of the Wannsee-Conference. Joseph Wulf, who committed suicide in 1974, did not live to see the realisation of his plans.