New EHRI Online Edition: Postwar “Documentation Campaign” in Prague

Documentation Campaign Postwar Prague
Tuesday, 19 December, 2023

“We are leaving Theresienstadt. 5000 men are crowded together in the train. Bauschowitz sinks behind them. The dream of being able to stay together with the family is over. They are going, everyone feels, into the unknown. Squeezed in between rucksacks, suitcases and all sorts of luggage, they begin the recurring debate: where to?”

This is how Holocaust survivor Otto Kalwo described his experience with deportation from the Terezín Ghetto to Auschwitz-Birkenau immediately after his liberation. He submitted his testimony within the framework of the so-called “Documentation Campaign” in Prague (Dokumentační akce), one of the earliest postwar projects to document the events of the Shoah, collecting evidence, documents, and witness testimonies. Most protocols were compiled in 1945 and 1946 in either Czech or German language.

In contrast to the often invoked trope of the silence of survivors, the documents contained in this edition provide immediate and often chilling accounts of deportation, suffering and death. Survivors made their statements while their reintegration into society was still unfinished and the trauma fresh, in the hope of establishing facts and bringing perpetrators to justice. This new online edition joins the growing research on the early documentation of the Holocaust and adds to the EHRI Edition of Early Holocaust Testimony.

The new EHRI online edition makes available 68 protocols gathered during this unique campaign. These documents are safeguarded in the Jewish Museum in Prague, Czech Republic and in Yad Vashem Archives in Jerusalem, Israel, out of which 41 were recorded in Czech and 27 in German. The edition contains over five hundred pages of transcripts in original languages, which are provided with English translations and scans of archival materials.

The editions are empowered by EHRI tools for digital editing and use and improve upon the EHRI vocabularies and descriptions to generate contextual information displayed to users. The annotated online editions links to information about collection holding institutions and collection-level descriptions in the EHRI Portal.

Compared to analogue editions, the freely accessible online editions enable new research approaches and a different reading of the documents. Through metadata-tagging and geo-referencing, the editions are searchable, can be filtered for specific thematic or spatial interests at any time and are contextualised through interactive maps.

Explore the EHRI online edition “Documentation Campaign”.

"Documentation Campaign" is the sixth  EHRI Online Edition. Previous editions were:

BeGrenzte Flucht (in German)

Early Holocaust Testimony

Diplomatic Reports

Von Wien ins Nirgendwo: Die Nisko-Deportationen 1939 (in German)

Uzavřít hranice! Rakouští uprchlíci do Československa v roce 1938 (in Czech)

Image: Co-workers of the documentation campaign in prague (dokumentační akce), 1946. From left: ze'ev shek, edita saxlová, robert weinberger, harald tressler, berta gerzonová, ruth bondy, jiří lauscher. Courtesy of rachel shek.