“Digital data archiving of victims of Nazism”. International conference at the Auschwitz Memorial Si
The conference “Digital data archiving of victims of Nazism,” organised by the Auschwitz Museum, was attended by representatives of 26 institutions from seven countries in Europe, the USA and Israel, mainly specialist involved in the building of a database consisting of the names and surnames of those persecuted by the Nazis. The theme of the meeting was to discuss the problem of a long-term storage of digital data.
Welcoming those who attended was the director of the Museum, Piotr M.A. Cywiński, who said: “We have begun an unprecedented project for the conservation of the original camp barracks – the places of detention of thousands of people. At the same time as preserving the original architecture, we would like to fill them up with the names and surnames of those who have suffered and died. Maintenance of the material remains must go hand in hand with recording and preserving the identity of the victims.
Krzysztof Antończyk of the Auschwitz Digital Repository stressed that the tedious process of entering the identity of the victims into the databases, determined on the basis of surviving documents, has been going on for many years and that the cooperation of the institutions and establishments involved in this subject is extremely important. “The Auschwitz Museum exchanges archival data with such institutions as the Israeli Yad Vashem, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the Austrian Mauthausen Memorial Site and the Belgian Museum of Mechelen. After the criminal activities of the Nazis, thousands of documents were left in the camp, which for years we meticulously and carefully scanned and entered into the database,” said Antończyk.
The need for close co-operation and the unified digitisation of documents, photos and videos was also pointed out by Wesley Fischer, science director for the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. “Preservation in a digital form of the documents in the archives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, which are on paper that is slowly falling apart, is just as important as the preservation of buildings and other structures that were not built to last. But the digitisation of documents relating to the Holocaust is also important, because it allows for the integration of different collections that were scattered throughout the world after the end of World War II. This facilitates access to such information as the names of the victims. Huge collection of documents relating to Auschwitz-Birkenau can be found in repositories outside of the State Museum, and the only way to present the full story is to create a more complete virtual archive,” stressed Fischer.
Meetings of experts from various memorial sites in Europe, Israel and the United States take place once a year to discuss the progress and cooperation between institutions.