Europe: Archive Project to Ease Holocaust Research

A new project aims to support Holocaust research by making historical records easier to access. The project, The European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI), will launch in Brussels next week.

The primary goal of EHRI is to bring together information that is currently located in archives across Europe. Not only has information on the Holocaust been decentralized, it has also been catalogued using different systems and languages, making research particularly difficult.

Another problem EHRI hopes to address is the difficulty of accessing Jewish sources in particular. Many Jewish documents were destroyed by the Nazi army. “One of the major challenges for every scholar of the Holocaust is to avoid the domination of the perpetrators’ sources over the voices of persecuted Jews,” according to EHRI organizers.

The new, European-wide database will include a shared thesaurus of keywords allowing researchers to locate documents in several collections and several languages. It will also bring researchers from different countries together to work on identifying Holocaust-era photographs and recovering names.

Records will also be put online to allow for public access.

Among those present at the Brussels launch will be European Commissioner for Research Innovation and Science Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, Education Minister Gidon Saar, and senior Yad Vashem memorial project officials, Chairman Avner Shalev and Archives Director Dr. Chaim Gertner.

“The nature of the events of the Holocaust, and the chaotic state of Europe in the immediate post-war, coupled with the Nazis’ effort to destroy not only the Jewish people, but all memory of them, has meant that information about the Holocaust is spread all over the world,” said Shalev.  “In order to be able to begin to piece together what happened, information that is located in numerous archives throughout Europe must be connected.  EHRI will facilitate research into the Holocaust, and help us further piece together what happened, when and to whom.”

Yad Vashem has played an active role in the EU project.


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