Winners of the 2020 European Heritage Awards/Europa Nostra Awards include two Holocaust/Jewish heritage projects: the newly digitized Arolsen Archives Online portal; and the exhibit Auschwitz: Not long ago. Not far away (Poland/Spain).
The Awards, launched in 2002 and funded by the EU’s Creative Europe program, were announced this week. Some 21 prizes were awarded to projects in 15 countries, divided into several categories. Both the Arolsen Archives Online and the Auschwitz exhibit were honored in the category “Education, Training and Awareness-Raising.”
The Awards presentation writes:
The Arolsen Archives Online
The Arolsen Archives are an international centre for the study of Nazi persecution which houses the world’s most comprehensive archive on the victims and survivors of Nazism. Its collections are listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register and they are a unique body of evidence on the fate of over 17.5 million people. This portal has provided users with easy online access to the documents for the very first time. A digital aid, the e-Guide, gives users the information they need in order to understand the archival records. The new online archive was initiated and funded by the Arolsen Archives and implemented with support from Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel.
Building on decades spent digitising the Arolsen Archives’ collections and indexing the names, this joint awareness-raising project utilises Yad Vashem’s state-of-the-art technology for fast data management and extended place and name search. At its launch in May 2019, users could already access 13 million documents online and search some 3 million names. The online archive is growing all the time.
The exhibition, result of the collaboration of two European entities, Musealia from Spain and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland, provides those who cannot visit the Auschwitz Memorial with insight into the site’s story and the fate of its prisoners and victims. A chronological narrative is illustrated by more than 700 original pieces, many of them shown to the public for the first time.
The exhibition first took place in Madrid and welcomed over 600,000 visitors including 100,000 schoolchildren. It is currently in New York (though currently closed because of the COVID-19 emergency) and when possible will continue its tour to a number of other cities, with the content adapted to include local stories in each locality. Education is a key core value of the project. Free admission was established for school visits, together with an educational and cultural program that included lectures, tribute concerts, debates and other events. Audio guides are available in eight international languages.
The exhibition has been supported and provided with artefacts by more than 20 museums and institutions, including The Weiner Holocaust Library in London, Hartheim Castle Education and Memorial Centre in Austria, the Sachsenhausen Memorial in Germany and the Anne Frank House in The Netherlands. A part of the revenues created by the exhibition will contribute to the general preservation of all authentic remains of Auschwitz for future generations.
Thanks to this exhibition, it is expected that more than 7 million visitors will learn about the complicated history of the largest German Nazi concentration and extermination camp – Auschwitz-Birkenau – as well as how and why the Holocaust happened. As new witnesses to the atrocities, they contribute to keeping the memory of the victims alive and gain an understanding of why intolerance must always be challenged.