During the Second World War, in many countries all over Europe Jewish councils or associations were established. They functioned as representative bodies for local, regional and national Jewish communities and, as such, were sometimes closely involved by the German occupier in the execution of the extermination policy of the Nazis. The project Jewish Councils in Europe brings together important – and in some cases still unexploited – archival collections on Jewish Councils and associations from Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Netherlands (Amsterdam and Friesland) and Poland.
Project leader: drs. Karolien Verbrugge
Project coordinator: drs. Anne Helfrich
Archivist: drs. René Pottkamp
Cooperation: Hungarian Jewish Archives, Jewish Historical Institute (Poland), Jewish Museum in Prague (Czech Republic), Kazerne Dossin (Belgium), National Archives of Finland and Yad Vashem (Israel).
Main objective is to prepare these collections for use by researchers and the general public, now and in the future. Focus will be on digitization of original documents and creation or improvement of digital finding aids. By reformatting the contents from analogue to digital carriers, the digital master files will serve as surrogates for future use.
This project is carried out in close cooperation with the EHRI-project and will be complementary to EHRI-work. Conservation and digitization are not part of EHRI, yet provide a deeper layer to the accessibility of these collections. The new or improved archival descriptions together with the digitized originals (approximately 120,000 pages) will be made available through local systems but also through portals like EHRI and Yerusha.
The project consortium consists of seven partners from seven different countries: Hungarian Jewish Archives, Jewish Historical Institute (Poland), Jewish Museum in Prague (Czech Republic), Kazerne Dossin (Belgium), National Archives of Finland, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (Netherlands) and Yad Vashem (Israel). NIOD will act as coordinator.
All organizations involved are national institutions holding eminent archival materials in relation to various Jewish Councils and Jewish community life during the Second World War. Joint expertise will allow us to set up a digitization workflow built on international standards and protocols, a thematic approach and a combination of digital imaging and metadata enrichment. Starting modest allows us to create a firm basis for taking bigger, more ambitious next steps in the long run.
The collections have been selected by the individual institutions themselves. Selection criteria were the frequency of scholarly use, combined with the physical condition of the original paper documents. We have tried to find a balance between quantity and quality, not only picking out the highlights but selecting integral parts of the collections. In general, after this project scholars will have improved access to a wider range of documents than before. Within the framework of this relatively small project only a portion of what is available will be covered. Due to legal restrictions not all digital content will be freely available online to all, but it will at least provide far better opportunities for comparative research across collections, comparing for instance reports, emigration policies, social support, etc.
The relevance of our project lies not only in the output of the deliverables mentioned in the proposal, but also in shaping a solid, professional network of institutions that jointly explores ways to make collections more accessible. Once we have gone through the process for the seven partners involved, we can benefit from our shared experiences and scale up the network in a next phase with new institutions and new collections.
Information about the funding organisation:
In appreciation to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) for supporting this archival project. Through recovering the assets of the victims of the Holocaust, the Claims Conference enables organizations around the world to provide education about the Shoah and to preserve the memory of those who perished.