One-day EHRI Conference in Jerusalem: Connecting the Puzzle Pieces - Challenges and Methods

EHRI Portal
Tuesday, 12 June, 2018

Identifying and Connecting Holocaust Period Archival Collections in Israel and the World

11 June 2018 | Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel

With the attempt to systematically destroy all European Jewry, the Nazis destroyed and scattered many records documenting the Nazi killing apparatus and Jewish life. After the war, it became very difficult to locate information concerning the persecution and extermination of the Jews, as well as their personal and communal stories.

Holocaust collections are located in various places around the world. It is sometimes possible to find in identical archives identical collections that were copied in full or in part, as well as collections that were fragmented and distributed among different archives. The digital age has opened up opportunities for us to map and compile various collections of documentation, but also created new challenges.

How do you manage a collection of Holocaust documentation spread over three continents?

Is there one place where information on Holocaust documentation collections in the world is concentrated?

What challenges does the digital age face in managing collections of Holocaust documentation?

These questions and more were discussed at a one-day EHRI regional conference at Yad Vashem, organized in cooperation with the Association of Israeli Archivists, and attended by over 100 Holocaust archivists, archive directors, researchers and professionals from Holocaust memorial institutions across Israel.

Opening Session: Connecting the Puzzle Pieces – Holocaust Archival Collections in Israel and the World: Following opening remarks from Dudu Amitai, Chairman of the Association of Israeli Archivists, the attendees heard from Yechezkel Kassnet, Director of Digital Projects, Israel National Library, on Holocaust Archival Collections in Israel according to the Israel Archives Network Project survey. Dr. Haim Gertner, Director of the Yad Vashem Archives Division, presented the EHRI Portal as tool for locating Holocaust documentation worldwide.

The Second Session: Scattered Collections – How do we Connect Holocaust Documentation, offered a number of examples of scattered documentation. Prof. Haim Saadoun, Director of the Documentation Center of North African Jewry during WWII at the Ben-Zvi Institute, spoke on Building the Story of North African Jewry during WWII from Original Collections in Israel and the World – Dilemmas, Challenges and Achievements. Dr. Roni Strauber presented the Wiener Collection: Between London, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem – the Original and Copies and their Contribution to Research. Irena Steinfeldt, (former) Director of the Righteous Among the Nations Department at Yad Vashem, enlightened the audience regarding The Use of Original Sources in Recognizing the Righteous Among the Nations – the Sum is Greater than its Parts.

During the lunch break, a "fair" was held in which nine institutions participating in the conference presented various initiatives. Additionally, participants were able to learn more about the EHRI Portal and EHRI's multi-lingual thesaurus.

In the afternoon, the participants received a guided tour of the Yad Vashem exhibition: Flashes of Memory - Photography during the Holocaust, and a talk in the Visual Center by Dr. Rob Rozett, Director of Yad Vashem Libraries on the Digital Holocaust Film Library: the Collections, the Challenges of Acquisition and Special Activities. The conference concluded with a round-table discussion on Ethical and Legal Aspects of the use of Holocaust Period Photographs and Films in the Age of Social Networks.

Hillel Solomon

Image by Hillel Solomon, Yad Vashem: Yehudit Levin explains the EHRI Portal during the fair.