Introduction to the EHRI Country Reports on Holocaust History and Archives

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The EHRI Country Reports are published on the EHRI Portal. This page contains a general introduction to the Country Reports.

 

The field of Holocaust studies relies on a huge variety of archives. One of EHRI’s most important tasks is to create an inventory of Holocaust-related archival institutions and collections in order to share this information with the research community. The country reports provide EHRI’s identification work with a systematic and structured framework. They give an overview of the Second World War and Holocaust history as well as of the archival situation in the covered countries, and include a section on EHRI’s research.

 

All EHRI country reports follow the same general structure:

  • Our first aim is to provide a general overview per country of its history during the Second World War. This is done in two short paragraphs. The first one deals with the history of the country during the Second World War, covering questions of statehood as well as German rule and influence. The second paragraph focuses on Holocaust history and includes information on the size of the pre-war Jewish community as compared to the total population of the country, as well as an estimate of the number of Jewish victims. Please note that the split-up of the number of victims according to today’s national borders is a highly complicated issue.
  • The second section offers a short overview of the archival situation. The first paragraph deals with the archival culture of the country: how the archives are organised (centralised system or not; public and private archives; general information about access, etc.). The second paragraph gives more information on which archives are most relevant for Holocaust research. The summaries do not include detailed information on privacy legislation, copyright issues or accessibility. For privacy issues, the EU member states are subject to the European Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC (1). However, the implementation of this Directive in national law differs from one member state to the other, and even within a given country there may be other variables to take into account (specific – archival – laws and culture, local practices). In non-EU countries, and especially in former Soviet states, the archival system is usually more centralised, but this does not mean privacy issues are more clear-cut. This is why EHRI refers users to archival administrations and, more importantly, the archives themselves for their policy on data protection and access to the documents, as well as copyright issues. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) has started a Multi-Year Work Plan on Archival Access in 2013. This IHRA project will assess the state of access to Holocaust-relevant materials by focusing on the legal, physical and material obstacles scholars and researchers who use Holocaust-relevant documentation are confronted with. Its report will be published on the IHRA website (2).
  • The third section elaborates on EHRI’s identification work, carried out between October 2010 and March 2015. This section also includes references to aggregators and country-specific research guides.

The summaries give readers a concise overview of Holocaust history and sources in the countries described. The reports combine knowledge from important Holocaust encyclopaedias with new findings from recent publications as well as original EHRI research. Due to their concise format, the national report summaries only focus on the broad outlines and do not include details or specific bibliographical references. The EHRI country reports are first and foremost a tool to frame the identification and investigation of sources on the Holocaust. Please note that the list of identified institutions and collections includes more detailed descriptions and information, not only about the content and type of sources, but also about archive-specific conditions regarding the accessibility of the sources.

To give as much information as possible about the data provided by the EHRI portal, there are extensive reports on the countries for which EHRI was able to include collection descriptions into its portal. Following a three-step structure, the extensive reports offer information on how EHRI acquired its data and put it into the portal, relying on pre-existing research, local experts, available archival guides and, in some cases, on third-party surveys (A), provide information on characteristics and specific challenges of the archival systems (B) and, finally, present overviews of EHRI’s identification and description results (C), which appear as listings of archival institutions relevant to Holocaust-research which can be found in or outside (if applicable) the country. The reader is thus provided with the methodology behind the data integration.

As a first priority the reports focus on the Axis and Nazi-occupied countries in Europe (including the North-African colonies). This includes the following countries: Albania, Algeria, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (FYROM), Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tunisia, Ukraine, and Vatican City. In addition, there are country reports on Israel, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States, as these countries also hold important Holocaust-related archival collections. Based on information received, EHRI also integrated repositories for Argentina, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan. However, the reports on these countries have not yet been included in the EHRI portal. The ultimate goal is to include a country report on every country which holds Holocaust-related archival collections and to keep the reports up to date in order to create a dynamic, growing resource for the identification of Holocaust-sources.

For further general references, consult the following online tools and published research guides:

Archival Guide to the Collections of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 3rd ed., Compiled by staff of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, Washington, DC: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2014 (see also http://www.ushmm.org/online/archival-guide/

Guide européen des sources d'archives sur la Shoah (European guide of archival sources on the Shoah) (Paris: Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine, 2000). This research guide has an updated version on the website of the Mémorial de la Shoah (Paris) under the title Guide des Archives de la Shoah. It covers Holocaust-related archives in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Judaica Europeana (http://www.judaica-europeana.eu/): Judaica Europeana works with cultural institutions to identify and provide online access to content which documents the Jewish presence and heritage in the cities of Europe. Project partners will digitise 10,500 photos, 1,500 postcards and 7,150 recordings as well as several million pages from books, newspapers, archives and press clippings. This content will be complemented by other digital collections and integrated in Europeana – Europe's digital library museum and archive. Judaica Europeana is one of a series of initiatives supported by the European Commission’s eContentplus programme that harvest and aggregate content for Europeana. A prototype featuring 20 million items online can be searched from this website using the 'Search Europeana Collections' link in the menu. Judaica Europeana is co-funded by the European Commission under the eContentplus programme, as part of the i2010 policy.

Robinson, Jacob & Yehuda Bauer (eds), Guide to unpublished material of the Holocaust period (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Yad Vashem, 1970).

Finally, it also has to be noted that some archives hold Holocaust-related material on practically all the countries covered by EHRI; they are not systematically referenced in each section on archival holdings outside of the respective country. A non-exhaustive list includes: the German Bundesarchiv / Federal Archives, the Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes / Political Archive of the Federal Foreign Office (which holds the diplomatic files of the German Reich), the International Tracing Service / ITS, Yad Vashem, USHMM, the Joint Distribution Committee Archives, the Central Archive for the History of the Jewish People, which holds records from the Claims Conference, and the Central Zionist Archives.

Authors and bibliographic reference:
The country reports have been authored and reviewed by a team of contributors (in alphabetical order): Alfons Adam, Giles Bennett, Hans Boers, Rita Bogdanova, Antoine Burgard, Angel Chorapchiev, László Csősz, Michał Czajka, Hans de Vries, Paul Dostert, Dominik Esegovic, Howard Falksohn, Michal Frankl, Kinga Frojimovics, Jasmina Gavrankapetanovic-Redzic, Tobias Hof, Petra Jurlina, Milan Koljanin, Neringa Latvytė-Gustaitienė, Judith Levin, Ferenc Laczó, Meelis Maripuu, Markus Meremies, Simo Muir, Vasilis Ritzaleos, Simon Levis Sullam, Petra Links, Oula Silvennoinen, Dieter Pohl, Haim Saadoun, Lieven Saerens, Wolfgang Schellenbacher Karen Taieb, Pascal Trees, Mikhail Tyaglyy, Susanne Uslu-Pauer, Veerle Vanden Daelen, Tim Veken, Anton Weiss-Wendt, Masha Yonin.

The reports can be referenced as follows: Giles Bennett, Dieter Pohl, Pascal Trees & Veerle Vanden Daelen (eds.), Country Reports on Holocaust History and Archives, and the Data Identification and Integration Work of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI), [LINK to website and/or portal] (date of consultation).

(1). http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/index_en.htm (consulted on 20 December 2013). (2). http://www.holocaustremembrance.com; http://www.holocaustremembrance.com/media-room/stories/archives-survey (consulted on 20 December 2013).