Historians and archivists can and will preserve remembrance of the Holocaust. Before long there will be no survivors left who can testify about their experiences. Their contribution cannot be replaced. But by developing and using new tools for documentation and research the lack of eyewitnesses will - at least partially - be compensated.
On 26 March 2015, EHRI – the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure – presented its online portal. It provides access to rich information about more than 1,800 Holocaust-related archival institutions in 51 countries, and to descriptions of tens of thousands of archival materials. Starting out in 2010 as a EC-financed initiative, scholars in 20 institutions in Europe and Israel worked together to make archives accessible and to connect collections.
‘The EHRI portal can play an important role in the democratisation of knowledge of the Holocaust’, says Conny Kristel, coordinator of EHRI. Not only academic researchers but also the public at large can use the online facility for scientific or personal purposes. Moreover the portal will support education on the Holocaust. According to EHRI, recent events in different parts of Europe have shown how important this work on Holocaust material remains as a reminder of the not so distant past.
The field of Holocaust studies relies on a wide variety of archives. Central to EHRI’s mission is the creation of an online inventory of Holocaust-related archival institutions and collections. The EHRI portal offers access to information on Holocaust-related archival material held in institutions across Europe and beyond.
EHRI is not only a digital infrastructure, but also a human network. Through a varied programme of fellowship opportunities, summer schools, workshops and conferences, EHRI is fostering new connections among Holocaust researchers, archivists and digital humanists. It thereby promotes new interdisciplinary and transnational approaches to Holocaust research.
Today, the EHRI portal is ready to be accessed by researchers. In the near future, even more collections in even more institutions, from Western and Eastern Europe as well as the USA will become accessible through EHRI.
EHRI was financed under the EU 7th Framework Programme and coordinated by NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam.