(JHE) — January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, is marked in many countries as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is an occasion for commemorative ceremonies, educational programs, and other initiatives. Monuments and memorials are also dedicated or form centerpieces for commemorative events.
At JHE, we usually mark the occasion with a photo essay of Holocaust memorials in Europe — emphasizing memorials that place attention on the names of the victims or otherwise personalize the Holocaust by bringing home the fact that each of the millions who died was an individual: they name names and sometimes provide other information, in this way keeping alive the memory of those who were murdered — and the living Jewish worlds, stretching back generations, that were destroyed.
This year, in addition to some images, we want to focus attention on an online project that was launched just over a year ago — a Holocaust Memorial Monuments Database (HMMD) aimed at creating a comprehensive digital inventory and history of Holocaust memorial monuments worldwide. (JHE’s Ruth Ellen Gruber plays an advisory role in its development.)
It will be an essential resource for commemoration, research, and education.
The HMMD is a partnership project of the Center for Jewish Art, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies/The George Feldenkreis Program in Judaic Studies, University of Miami, Florida; and the International Survey of Jewish Monuments, Syracuse, New York.
The total number of Holocaust memorial monuments in the world is unknown, but the project team estimates that it may be more than 10,000. To date, the project has digitised more than 725 of them, in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
For each monument, uploaded data includes photographic documentation, the monument’s location, physical description, mapping, and historical research, including the artist or designer when known.
The HMMs so far uploaded encompass a wide variety of forms and locations.
Some are sculptural, some are simple plaques. Some were designed by noted artists; most are anonymous. Some are located in Jewish cemeteries, or at synagogues. Some are in sometimes prominent public places. Some are connected with museums or exhibits. Some have descriptive or commemorative text, in various languages. Some — as we have noted — are primarily lists of the names of victims. Some combine various forms.
You can search for monuments by Location, Type, Setting, Artist, Iconographical subject, Textual content, and Completion date.
In addition, there is a map of locations so far covered, as well as a link to a growing bibliography and other resources about Holocaust monuments and commemoration.
You can also get involved — by volunteering to help document HMMs. Click “Add a Monument” in the top menu and find a drop-down menu with a Questionnaire to fill out for each HMM as well as instructions on how to document and photograph each HMM.
The HMMD project has received support from the Claims Conference, as well as private donor William Gross. And it has local partners working on documentation in a number of countries.
Watch a video from when the project launched in which JHE friend Dr. Samuel Gruber describes the project and its background and development: