Next Phase of EHRI Kicked Off in Munich

Thursday, 5 March, 2020

Between 11 and 13 February 2020, the EHRI consortium assembled in Munich to kick-off a new era. EHRI’s longstanding partner, the Center for Holocaust Studies at the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History, kindly hosted the event.

The European Holocaust Research Infrastructure was founded in 2010 and established itself during two project phases. In December 2019, EHRI entered a new phase in which it will transform itself from a project into a permanent, sustainable entity. To mark this, around sixty people representing fifteen partners from thirteen countries gathered in Munich.

Out of the comfort zone

Although a joyous occasion, the gathering was mostly about hard work. To ensure the long-term sustainability of EHRI, we need to draft a sound business plan linking EHRI's scientific case, user and access policy and value proposition to a robust governance structure, a legal framework and a financial plan. For most people involved in EHRI, this means stepping out of their comfort zone and undertaking new tasks. For this reason, the second day of the event was entirely devoted to work meetings on Governance and Legal Work; on Finance, Sustainability, Communication, Technical Development and Data Management and on developing Strategies on User, Access and Training, and Research and Innovation. Sharing experience proved invaluable  and led to the draft of concrete plans and steps to take. During the meeting on sustainability, partners reported on their progress of liaising with their respective governments, who need to support EHRI’s future framework. Without the support of several European governments, it will be difficult for EHRI to sustain its mission to secure Europe’s place at the forefront of Holocaust documentation, research and commemoration for the long-term.

New members

A majority of the consortium members have been part of EHRI since the beginning, which is of great benefit to the stability of the infrastructure. At the same time, we also welcomed new partners and members, such as the National Research Council of Italy (CNR). Being coordinator of the European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RHIS PP), CNR brings important experience to this new stage. The new Scientific Advisory Board also met in Munich for the first time.

Think big

On the last day of the event, the programme started with a panel discussion that featured experts with much experience in developing  permanent infrastructures. Franciska de Jong from CLARIN-ERIC, Tobias Blanke (University of Amsterdam and KCL), who was involved in establishing DARIAH, and Luca Pezatti from E-RHIS talked about the path to success. All three panelists generously shared their experiences in establishing and running European infrastructures, and they gave one overriding important message: to be successful EHRI has to think big, long-term and must cast its net as wide as possible.

Core business

Participants were frequently reminded not to forget EHRI’s core business, which is to support the Holocaust research community. During its transformation from a project into a permanent structure, EHRI will continue to offer our existing online services, such as the Portal, the Online Course, the Document Blog and the EHRI Editions. We are also hoping to be able to restart the Conny Kristel Fellowship in the course of 2020.

Jewish Museum Munich

One of the highlights of the social programme was a guided tour through the Jewish Museum Munich, which also reminded us again of the reasons behind our efforts. A walking dinner gave us the time to reflect.

Taking note of new dates for meetings, including a partner meeting in Jerusalem in September this year, and equipped with a lot more knowledge, and concrete plans, everyone went their separate ways, imbued with a determination to succeed.

Images: Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ)