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European Holocaust Research Infrastructure

Final Report Summary - EHRI (European Holocaust Research Infrastructure)

Executive Summary:
The European Holocaust Research infrastructure (EHRI) project commenced work in October 2010, in the year that the world commemorated the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Over a 54-month period the project undertook an ambitious programme of research and innovation to support research into the Holocaust. The project’s activities were undertaken collaboratively by a consortium of 20 partner institutions and a large network of associate partner that brought together the expertise and perspectives of three disciplines: Holocaust studies, archival science and e-Research/digital humanities.

EHRI’s overriding ambition was to overcome some of the hallmark challenges of Holocaust research: the wide dispersal of the archival source material documenting the Holocaust across Europe and beyond, and the concomitant fragmentation of Holocaust historiography. It sought to alleviate this situation by initiating new levels of collaborative and trans-national research through the development of innovative methodologies, research guides and user-driven trans-national access to research infrastructures and services. To facilitate this, EHRI designed and implemented a Portal/Virtual Research Environment that offers online access to in-depth information about a wide variety of disparate and dispersed Holocaust archival materials and to a number of online tools. Building on integrating activities undertaken over the past decades, EHRI transformed the data available for Holocaust research around Europe and elsewhere into a cohesive corpus of resources.

EHRI has achieved its objectives by tightly integrating networking, trans-national access and research and development activities into a coherent programme of work. Our networking activities have helped to foster a pan-European perspective among relevant stakeholders, and a widespread recognition of the need for integration and enhancement of existing Holocaust research activities. EHRI has become a leader into the movement towards European integration of Holocaust sources and research; has investigated new methodologies; has developed research guides that virtually re-unite physically distributed sources; and has supported a new generation of researchers through its training programme. Our trans-national fellowship programme has enabled 42 individuals from 12 countries to further their research by granting them access to the resources and expertise available at 5 state-of-the-art research infrastructure, and has helped to frame our own research agenda. Our joint research and development work, finally, has led to the investigation and identification of more than 1,800 archival institutions and their collections in 51 countries; the formulation of shared standards, guidelines, vocabularies and user requirements for the EHRI portal; and the integration of more than 150,000 descriptions of archival materials that are relevant to the Holocaust. It culminated in the development of the EHRI VRE. The EHRI VRE is a a free-to-use online environment that offers researchers and other interested parties access to all the data integrated and created by the project, and features a range of tools that facilitate the exploration, sharing and enhancement of these data.

EHRI has first and foremost strengthened the existing clusters of excellence in Holocaust research, but it has also established itself as a 'best practice' model for other archival and humanities projects. Although EHRI was primarily geared towards the needs of scholarly communities, the online availability and open access to reliable and properly contextualised Holocaust material is equally important for the larger public, as its research topic is deeply rooted in the development of European societies. The achievements and results of the EHRI project will be sustained and further enhanced through a four-year follow-up programme, supported through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme.

Project Context and Objectives:
2.1 Introduction and overall objective

The European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) project was launched in October 2010. Over the last four and a half years, the project has endeavoured to meet the following overall objective:

to support the European Holocaust research community and help initiate new levels of trans-boundary collaborative research through development of user-driven transnational access to research infrastructures and services and to design and implement a Virtual Research Environment offering online access to a wide variety of dispersed key Holocaust archival materials and to a number of online data management and collaboration tools.

In order to reach this objective, EHRI has mobilised a consortium comprising Europe and Israel’s most prominent Holocaust research institutions and archives as well as leading research infrastructure experts.

2.2 Context and background
The need of a research infrastructure for Holocaust research on a European scale arose from the inherent difficulties of conducting truly international and comparative research into the Holocaust; difficulties that are themselves largely explicable by the wide fragmentation and dispersal of the archival sources that document the Holocaust.

2.2.1 Archives
The dispersal of the sources from the Terezín (Theresienstadt) ghetto, one of the major places of persecution of European Jews, perfectly illustrates the difficulties that EHRI has sought to alleviate. Previous to EHRI, In order to consult the most significant archival collections, a researcher had to travel to the Memorial in Terezín, the Jewish Museum in Prague, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and Beit Theresienstadt in Givat Haim, Israel. For instance, the daily orders of the Terezín commander, one of the major sources of information on the ghetto, have not survived completely in any of the four archives. And most of the original documents stemming from the agenda of the Terezín “Jewish Council of Elders” have been destroyed shortly before liberation, at the orders of the German commander in order to conceal the role of the ghetto in the Holocaust. The extant materials were hidden by prisoners or collected during a documentation project organised in Prague by survivors of Terezín shortly after liberation, and are nowadays spread out across different archives. Thus, in order to write the history of Terezín and to reconstruct the fate of its victims the dots have to be connected piece to piece.

The situation of archival sources on the Terezín ghetto are but one example of a much wider trend: Holocaust archives are fragmented and dispersed all over the world, making access complicated, if not impossible, and very time-consuming.

Such fragmentation of archival sources is a result of the wide geographic scope of the Holocaust, attempts by the Nazis to destroy evidence of the crime, the post-war migration of Holocaust survivors, and the multiplicity of documentation projects initiated after the war.

Moreover, in recent decades more and more specific collections have been set up, especially in regional centres of research and commemoration. The opening up of archives in Eastern Europe, and in particular in Eastern Germany, and the opening of formerly classified archives in Western Europe has resulted in a substantial increase in the available source material. At the same time, the number of institutions in European countries that hold Holocaust collections and are active in the field of research and commemoration has increased since 1989 (especially in Eastern Europe but also in Germany and most other European states). These institutions, old and new, have their own collections and their own (increasingly digital) research infrastructures, which often do not support scholarly requirements. Different institutions use different cataloguing systems and metadata. Many different languages are used in the original documents as well as in cataloguing systems, necessitating translation and hampering comparability. By integrating information about Holocaust-related archival institutions and their collections in a unified infrastructure, EHRI was initiated to help Holocaust researchers to navigate the complexity and heterogeneity of the Holocaust archival landscape.

Finally, one of the major challenges for every scholar of the Holocaust is to avoid the prevalence of perpetrators’ sources over the voices of persecuted Jews. The documents of Jewish organizations or relief organizations often followed the fate of their owners: they were in many cases destroyed or dispersed. For instance, to gain insights into the activity of the Jewish refugee committee in Prague, a researcher has to study the fragments of reports saved in several archives, especially in the USA, Israel and Germany. And while there are numerous testimonies given by Holocaust survivors after the liberation, original diaries, letters and/or testimonies from the time of persecution are more difficult to find. Over the last decades a growing consensus in Holocaust historiography has emerged that Jewish sources and perspectives have to be more comprehensively integrated into the narrative(s) of the Holocaust. By connecting collections from different archives and countries, EHRI has aimed at making a significant step towards fulfilling this goal.

2.2.2 Holocaust historiography
Until 1989 Israel, the United States and Western Europe were the main centres for Holocaust research. Auschwitz became worldwide the symbol of the Holocaust, because it was the largest death camp, but also because it was the camp where Jews from Western and Central Europe were murdered. However, the vast majority of Holocaust victims lived and was murdered in Eastern Europe. Research and documentation on this part of Europe is still far more difficult to conduct than on Germany or Western Europe. EHRI has endeavoured to stimulate and facilitate research into the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. The Nazi persecution was after all a European-wide phenomenon.

It is no exaggeration to state that, from a historical point of view, Europe has a moral obligation to make a substantial contribution to the integration of key archival collections and research infrastructures and services, so that trans-national Holocaust research is supported by state-of-the-art services and made more efficient. The important and complex challenge for EHRI has been to unite information about physically separate collections without destroying what makes them unique and without removing them from their specific spatio-temporal contexts. The online availability and accessibility of properly (according to scholarly and internationally recognised standards) contextualised material is an indispensable instrument for the innovation of research into the Holocaust. Secondly, EHRI was launched to support new methodologies for research that enable historians and other scholars in the humanities (such as sociologists, psychologists and political scientists) to develop comparative history, discuss specific European-wide themes and achieve a much higher level of integration of scholarly results. Thirdly, and no less important, availability, access and a more profoundly integrated historiography continues to be an indispensable weapon in the battle against Holocaust denial.

2.2.3 e-Research
EHRI has been facilitated by recent technological innovations that enable the integration of data and services into online “virtual research environments” (VREs) for a number of disciplines including archives for historical research. Such environments allow for the secure recombination of information on digital archival material into virtual environments without physical access to these archives. As digitization of Holocaust material is relatively advanced, the virtual reunification of dispersed material has become a possibility. EHRI´s ambition was derived from the vision of creating a sustainable world-class Holocaust Research Infrastructure of European dimensions, that brings together virtual resources from dispersed archives and that will last well beyond the EC Framework Programme.

2.3 Objectives
The EHRI project has brought together expertise in historical research, archives and e-Research. As already noted above, the general objective of EHRI has been to support the European Holocaust research community and help initiate new levels of trans-boundary collaborative research through development of user-driven trans-national access to research infrastructures and services and to design and implement a Virtual Research Environment offering online access to a wide variety of dispersed key Holocaust archival materials and to a number of online data management and collaboration tools.
This general objective contains four specific objectives that have been implemented through the EHRI work programme.

See table 1, Four specific objectives, in the attached PDF Tables EHRI Final Report

For each objective, “measures of success” were defined as follows:

2.3.1 Measure of Success: OB 1 Management
Management and support cooperation within the consortium and joint delivery of all deliverables in time and within budget. To achieve the levels of quantity, quality and interdependency as defined for the objectives and deliverables of each work package. To successfully manage project administration and reports to the EU.

2.3.2 Measure of Success: OB 2 Networking (including dissemination) objectives
Involvement of a majority of the research community and institutions through participation in and general agreement on key data, infrastructures, services, methodologies, research guides and access policies to be integrated into the EHRI online infrastructure. Take-up of the EHRI VRE through testing and training as well as through collaboration on new and improved levels of trans-national research.

2.3.3 Measure of Success: OB 3 Trans-national access and service objectives
Recognition and adoption (in locally relevant forms) of best practice for trans-national access developed in the project by the network of partners as well as recognition by all other relevant institutions.

2.3.4 Measure of Success: OB 4 RTD-objectives
Take up and use of the EHRI infrastructure, functionalities and services, as defined in the RTD work packages, in particular by a majority of users actively involved in EHRI’s coordination activities, researchers facilitated in the trans-national access programme, and researchers at the partner institutions. At the end new EHRI services will be adopted by a large core group of researchers identified in the Networking activities to the extent that a large majority of them will get actively involved. A second measure of success is the actual adoption by partners of the standards and guidelines offered, which will lead to easy integration of a growing corpus of research data and expansion of the user community. A further measure of success is through measurable dissemination activities aimed at awareness raising among a much larger group of individual scholars and a wider community of users in education and other fields.

The next two sections “Description of the main S&T results/foreground” and “The potential impact” provide details of how these measures were reached.

Project Results:
3.1 Holocaust research embedded in an Integrating Activity

When in 2010 the European Commission decided to fund a new initiative in the domain of Holocaust research, the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI), for the first time, European research money was put into Holocaust research with a focus on developing a sustainable research infrastructure rather than funding just individual projects. Prior to this, this area of research funding was the domain of foundations such as the Claims Conference, etc. Perhaps even more remarkable was the programme under which EHRI was funded. The FP7 programme of Integrating Activities provides links between existing research infrastructures at a local and national level. Before this, there were other initiatives for humanities research infrastructures but none was funded as an FP7 Integrating Activity. At that time, the only template EHRI had for the proposal were suggestions for large scientific infrastructures that provided access to telescopes for astrophysics or laser laboratories for material research. The challenge was to map our ideas for an integrated platform for Holocaust research with these existing examples of Integrating Activities. We have reflected in the International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing(1), that the Integrating Activity template fits very well the requirements of developing a pan-European Holocaust research infrastructure, because of the way it brings together analogue and digital material as well as established research practices with new digital ones.

The Holocaust community is served well by a set of interlinked services, as suggested for Integrating Activities, that bridge analogue and digital materials, because they are dispersed in many parts– some are well funded but others are rather local in nature. Through a one-day workshop in Athens we have, for instance, established a connection with the archivist of a small Jewish community archive in Thessaloniki. As the daughter of survivors of the community, which was decimated during the Holocaust, she administers by herself a substantial collection of valuable documents. Our efforts have stimulated and enabled research, contributed to the strengthening of local community consciousness, and offered educational opportunities at a local level. The latter are important considering the increasing challenges to memory in various parts of Europe.

See the attached PDF Figures Final Report EHRI, Figure 1: EHRI workshop in Greece

The vision of EHRI was to integrate the data, services and expertise of existing Holocaust infrastructures on an unprecedented scale. It allows researchers from across the globe trans-national access to the integrated infrastructure, and provides them with innovative digital tools and methods to (collaboratively) explore and analyse Holocaust sources. EHRI has aimed to become an indispensable tool for the study of the Holocaust from a pan-European perspective. But EHRI has also served as a 'best practice' model for other humanities projects, and its innovative approach to data integration, management and retrieval has had an impact in the wider cultural and IT industries as we demonstrate in Section 4. Although EHRI is geared towards scholarly communities, open online availability of reliable Holocaust material is important for the larger public, as the Holocaust is deeply rooted in the development of European societies. European support for the study of this most traumatic historical event is essential to achieve a comprehensive approach to the history of the Holocaust as a shared European phenomenon.

3.2 The Challenges of Integrating Holocaust material

The challenges in integrating Holocaust material from archives is best explained with an example that shows how much has to be done. There are many examples, but the early documentation on the ghetto in Terezín (Theresienstadt in German) is here a particularly good case. Hans-Günther Adler (1910–1988) was born in Prague into a German-Jewish family and became a writer at a relatively young age. When he was deported to Terezín in February 1942, he began to document life in the ghetto in order to be able to become a scholarly witness, if he would survive the war. His attempt to document what was going on around him helped him to get through his years in Terezín. Later on, Adler would become one of the early historians of the Holocaust. In 1955 he published a study on Terezín called Theresienstadt 1941-1945. Das Antlitz einer Zwangsgemeinschaft, Geschichte Soziologie Psychologie (Tübingen 1955). Adler was liberated in a sub-camp of Buchenwald in early April 1945. In June he returned to Prague, where he soon started working in the Jewish Museum on assembling a collection on Terezín Ghetto. Leo Baeck, a famous German rabbi and scholar, who was also imprisoned in Terezín, had managed to keep the Adler collection together and gave it back to Adler after the liberation. Apart from the Jewish Museum and Adler, there was also an initiative from a group of Zionist activists funded by the Jewish Agency assembling material on Terezín. Most of this material is now part of the rich collections of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. In February 1947 Adler emigrated to London taking his personal collections with him.

Currently, material on Terezín is held in different transcripts and copies by at least four different EHRI partners. The Jewish Museum in Prague is an important repository of Terezín-related material. Yad Vashem in Jerusalem administers the documents, which were assembled by the ‘Dokumentationsaktion’ by the Jewish Agency. Adler’s library is in London and now part of the library of King’s College London, where Adler’s son used to work. And maybe most surprisingly, the Dutch NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam has a substantial Adler collection, because of the personal friendship between Adler and the first director of NIOD, Loe de Jong. The latter was also a survivor-historian and had known Adler for a long time. In his will Adler had stated that his collection (largely on Terezín) should be given to NIOD.

As well as the geographic dispersion of the Terezín material, there are also challenges for historical research stemming from the way documentation has been attempted up to now. The Adler collection is also a good example of the state of Holocaust documentation; as part of the documents in the collection are photocopies. While the originals stayed with Adler’s son, Jeremy Adler, photocopies of the originals have been done at different times in the past and with different overall aims, which makes it often difficult to understand the context of the documentation.

The ‘fate’ of Adler’s collection demonstrates the dispersion of Holocaust related material, which makes it very difficult for researchers to get an overview of the relevant material and an appropriate understanding of its context. A researcher of Terezín would most likely first think of a visit to the Jewish Museum in Prague, and it is also probable that she would contact Yad Vashem. NIOD in Amsterdam or King’s College in London, however, would probably be not on her mind at first. It is also well possible that further, hitherto unknown, collections exist elsewhere that might provide a different view of events.

The dispersion of the Adler/Terezín collections is just one example of the archival reality that Holocaust researchers have to cope with. In recent decades, there have been several small scale initiatives, mostly by the national commemorative institute Yad Vashem (Israel) and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM; Washington DC). Supported by the Claims Conference they have undertaken significant efforts to bring together an impressive amount of documents and collections pertaining to the Holocaust (often in very difficult circumstances, and in collaboration with local experts). Originally, they used to photocopy the originals (and sometimes even existing photocopies), while in a later stage, they started scanning documents. As these efforts were focused on material relevant for the study of the Holocaust, they sometimes selected only individual items from collections for photocopying or scanning. Collections with relevant historical material were therefore taken apart and de-contextualised.

As a result, the scans/photocopies of documents taken from archives across Europe are now physically available in both Washington DC and Jerusalem. In some cases, staff at Yad Vashem and USHMM have prepared their own finding aids, which may differ from the original ones. The representation of the original material has thus also been altered. All of this results in difficulties for historians to judge the evidence in the documentation. Documents are decontextualized and their original provenance might be lost. The construction of an integrated view on the documentation therefore is often a painstaking effort, which requires the overview of the documentation not just in one archive but in many related ones. Historians have therefore become their own experts on bringing together material across archives and rely on their own personal networks to assemble the data and documentation. They have to become their own archival experts with knowledge on how collections are represented and collected at different places across the world. The first task of EHRI was therefore not to just integrate the collections that are linked to Holocaust research but also bring together the communities that work with them.

EHRI has built on the expertise of its three disciplines; the project managed to bring together for the first time experts on Holocaust research, archives, and research infrastructures/digital humanities. The integration of activities within EHRI was a challenge because it needed to support all the involved disciplines to enable them to effectively and efficiently contribute their particular expertise. Our experience of designing research infrastructures suggests that only a truly inter-disciplinary approach can ensure a high level of integration of all results that will culminate in a set of interlinked services that are provided through EHRI as single point of access.

In the following we describe how the interdisciplinary research of the communities has driven the key scientific and technical results of EHRI. The historians have been at the forefront of identifying and collecting research collections as well as enhancing the skills of the communities through training; the archivists led on integrating archival materials, while the digital humanities experts innovated new kinds of data integration infrastructures that are built around the needs of the historical and archival communities.

3.3 Scientific technical outcomes of EHRI

We decided to structure the scientific and technical outcomes of EHRI according to the main themes that the three communities worked together on. We begin with the identification work that aimed at finding and investigating Holocaust-related institutions and collections. This work was led by historians. The historians also developed our training programme that has provided researchers with the necessary skills to work with Holocaust resources and the trans-national fellowship programme that has enabled researchers to visit key Holocaust archives. These two programmes will be presented in the following two sections. The EHRI archivists, on the other hand, defined the necessary standards for the integration of Holocaust resources, and have generated new insights on how to integrate material thematically into research guides. Together with digital humanities experts the archivists also analysed the user requirements for the EHRI infrastructure. The digital humanities experts, finally, led on the development of the EHRI virtual observatory as a whole. They innovated a new method of integrating archival material using a graph, developed the whole architecture of EHRI and also implemented the user-facing portal.

Identification Work

The first research activity in EHRI was to identify existing archives and collections, and present the results of this identification work in such a way it would directly benefit researchers. We have identified a wide range of different types of institutions holding relevant archival material including national and regional archives, memory institutions, museums, and local and private collection holders. Each type of archive has posed a unique challenge in terms of integrating their material, harmonising the metadata and publishing it in an integrated portal.

In order to structure the identification work, EHRI started off by developing a concise internal working definition of the Holocaust. Throughout our work we have sought to provide an overview of the Holocaust-related archival landscape that is as complete as possible, and have endeavoured to identify as many relevant sources as is possible. EHRI did not want to exclude any relevant material, but for pragmatic reasons some criteria of prioritization had to be put in place. For instance, EHRI decided to prioritize the identification of victims’ sources, because perpetrator sources are more numerous and less dispersed and therefore better known. Special attention was given to identifying Eastern (and Central) Europe sources, as these are the places where most victims perished, and where sources – compared to the West – have been less inventoried and made accessible. EHRI’s surveying work started with Germany and its allies, and the countries occupied by the Axis Alliance. EHRI did not stop there though, and further categories of countries were included in the later stages of the project.

We undertook the identification work within a structured framework, leading from the identification of relevant countries and institutions to the investigation of Holocaust-related collections. On the country level, we composed 47 country reports that helped to structure and prioritise our further research in each country. All country reports follow the same general structure. First, in two short paragraphs a general overview of a country’s history during the Second World War is given. The first paragraph covers questions of statehood as well as German rule and influence, while the second paragraph focuses on Holocaust history and also includes information on the size of the pre-war Jewish community as compared to the total population of a country and an estimated number of Jewish victims.

In a second section the reports describe briefly the archival situation. A first paragraph deals with the archival culture of a country and how its archives are organized (centralized system, role of the state, and legislation can be addressed here). The second paragraph provides more information on which archives are most relevant for Holocaust research. The third part reports on EHRI’s research in the country. This results in a brief executive summary per country. In consulting these summaries, the reader can get a clear and concise overview of why the country is being researched and what the current state of knowledge and access to Holocaust-related archives in this country is; including an overview of EHRI’s identification efforts.

On the level of institutions, we have been able to identify and describe more than 1,800 archives, libraries, museums, memory organisations etc. that hold Holocaust-relevant documentation. This is a significant enhancement of existing overviews of Holocaust archives: prior to EHRI, the most comprehensive overview was produced by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which contained only very high-level information on just 1,005 archives, assembled in a spread sheet.

On the level of collections, the focus of our identification work has been especially on those that are lodged in archives that are not part of larger infrastructures and are thus ‘hidden’ from most researchers. We have found that there is still much work to be done in this regard, not merely in parts of Eastern Europe, but also in other European region, where the holdings of local archives are frequently not well described, and their relevance to the Holocaust is not obvious. We have developed an environment to provide high-quality descriptions for relevant collections, including the hidden ones. We have undertaken in-depth surveys of the Holocaust related archival landscape in the Baltic states, Ukraine, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece and Belgium. Such survey work involved describing collections for the first time, or identifying and describing the Holocaust relevant parts of larger collection. Our in-depth survey work has resulted in more than 3,000 new archival descriptions of Holocaust-relevant material.

Our identification work has been enabled by the organisation of various workshops and expert meetings that brought together all stakeholders regarding Holocaust documentation in a given region. These events resulted in the consolidation and enhancement of the existing knowledge, and also provided an excellent opportunity for networking and for initiating new research on Holocaust-relevant archival collections in key European regions.

See the attached PDF Figures Final Report EHRI, Figure 2: Experts at the EHRI workshop on the Ukraine (Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Munich).

All the information assembled and newly created in the course of our identification work has been made available online in the EHRI Portal. The country reports, institutional descriptions and collection descriptions have already attracted significant feedback from portal users, which proves that EHRI is fast becoming a real point of reference for Holocaust research.


Especially because Holocaust research is an interdisciplinary field, it is necessary to create networks for younger researchers and to encourage scholars of diverse backgrounds to engage in Holocaust research – historians, archivists, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists and others interested in the Holocaust. Therefore, EHRI provided as many researchers as possible with an up-to-date overview on methods, sources and research on historical Holocaust research, including an introduction into how to use metadata, integrated data collections and collaboration opportunities in such research on the EHRI portal. We were especially eager to provide opportunities to Holocaust researchers not attached to major research networks, especially to those from Eastern Europe. We aimed at connecting people, creating networks and stimulating trans-national research into the Holocaust.

To reach this goal, EHRI organised 4 highly successful EHRI Summer Schools in Holocaust Studies in respectively Paris, Tutzing/Munich, Jerusalem and Amsterdam. They were organised by EHRI partner institutions, which are all established and prominent research infrastructures for Holocaust Studies. Each Summer School lasted 3 weeks with 12 trainees each. They were offered an up-to-date curriculum on central questions and themes of Holocaust historiography as well as pertinent visits to memorial sites and archives in the vicinity of the host institutions.

In addition, EHRI set up an online course in Holocaust studies on the graduate level ( We selected 5 overarching topics of general importance to Holocaust research, which simultaneously served as the core of the curriculum for the Summer Schools:
• Ghettos under Nazi Rule
• The Nazi Camps and the Persecution and Murder of the Jews
• The Holocaust in Ukraine
• Persecution in Western Europe
• The Germans and the Holocaust
Each course unit includes a general introduction as well as a discussion of the historiography of the subject at hand and an appraisal of the pertinent source types. Approx. five chapters offer perspectives on chosen central issues of the topic. Each of these chapters consists of an introduction to the specific issue as well as approx. ten sources (including texts, photographs, sound and video sources). Sources are presented in facsimile wherever possible, followed by a transcription in the original language where legibility is an issue. We also offer English translations of the text documents.

See Figures Final Report EHRI, Figure 3 EHRI Summer School Munich

Trans-national Access

The EHRI identification work aimed to improve access to existing archival infrastructures in Holocaust research. An immediate benefit from a systematic investigation of Holocaust research material is to improve the physical access to these collections. Through a dedicated scholarship programme, EHRI offered access to a number of leading institutions. Researchers could apply through EHRI for a short-term fellowship currently at five existing research infrastructures: Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich, Jewish Museum Prague, Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. These are all very established research infrastructures for research into the Holocaust.

Our experience is that especially junior academics, Postdocs, PhD candidates with limited resources and researchers from Eastern Europe have applied for these trans-national access services. This part of the EHRI programme provided direct opportunities for researchers. Even short-term travel grants can do a lot of good in Holocaust research, where due to the dispersion of Holocaust material researchers have to travel and visit several institutions. These short-term grants provided an important complement to existing fellowships programmes offered by Yad Vashem and USHMM. Their programmes are more long-term and allow researchers to visit their institutions for respectively 2 to 4 and 3 to 9 months.

The calls for applicants generated large interest from the Holocaust research communities. For the 2012 entry to the fellowship programme, overall 75 applicants from 22 countries submitted a proposal. An international panel of experts selected 12 researchers on the basis of the excellence of their research proposals for a fellowship during 2012 at the five archival and research institutions mentioned above. The fellowships allowed researchers to spend 4 to 8 weeks in one of these infrastructures. They researched the collections and participated in scholarly exchanges with the staff of these institutions and beyond.
For the 2013 entry to the fellowship programme, overall 46 applicants from 23 countries sent in a proposal. After evaluation 11 users were invited for a fellowship during 2013 at one of the institutions participating in the fellowship programme. For the last (2014) entry to the fellowship programme, overall 58 applicants from 12 countries submitted a proposal. The panel of experts selected 19 users for a fellowship during 2014 at the archival and research institutions mentioned above.

Overall, 179 applications were received for the EHRI fellowship programme. The panel of experts selected 42 users from 12 countries to spend around a month at one of the 5 participating EHRI institutions to further their Holocaust-related research project. All in all, this adds up to a total of 168 weeks of trans-national access provided by EHRI.

Linda Margittai was one of these fellows and chose NIOD as her destination in 2012. She applied for a fellowship to complement her research project, which examined the fate of Hungarian Jews living abroad during the Holocaust. Her stay at NIOD allowed her to work on her first case study to clarify which factors formed the fate of Jews of Hungarian citizenship living in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. Reflecting on her experiences,(2) she said that the collections of NIOD, both archival and library collections, have provided her with very valuable materials, which have helped her ‘to clear up some essential research problems’. She was also very appreciative of the new academic contacts she had made. All in all, her stay at NIOD contributed to the development of her project and her academic network.

See attached PDF Figures Final Report EHRI, Figure 4, EHRI Fellow Marco Carynnyk presenting his research project at the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, September 2012.

Standards and Thesaurus

The establishment of a portal connecting dispersed collections and archives related to the Holocaust called for the use of international standards. The work on Standards and Guidelines guided the EHRI project in this field by delivering three main products. First of all, a report was produced presenting an overview of the key standards that are relevant for EHRI project, the portal and the archives. Connected to this report were the results of an information gathering exercise that investigated metadata standards and description guidelines that are in use by EHRI partner institutions. Especially the gap between theory (commonly used standards ensuring interoperability) and practice (a variety of existing working methods at the collection holding institutions) led to a set of pragmatic recommendations for the EHRI project.

Secondly, a metadata scheme for the portal and a report on terminology was delivered. One innovative feature of the developed scheme is that it acknowledges the possibility that for one physical object (or a copy thereof) various descriptions may have been created by different archives. Thirdly, guidelines for describing resources were produced for use by both EHRI partners and external archives to ensure that archival descriptions are created in such a way that they can be easily retrieved and understood by researchers. The guidelines encompassed all description scenarios envisaged by EHRI: description of institutions, description of collections and description of context of collections (organisations, persons, events, camps, ghettos).

These guidelines were needed because there is often a lack of organisation of the available sources for the Holocaust and, if a collection has been organised, it will often not be done according to traditional archival principles. This implies that there are no references to related collections, related research projects or related publications.

Figure 5 gives an overview of the number of institutions that hold a certain collection type and how they provide their descriptions.

See Figures Final Report EHRI, Figure 5: Collections and institutions with Holocaust material

Through the Standards work, it has become clear in EHRI that we cannot simply rely on the implementation of metadata standards to support the integration of sources. A key reason was that institutions differ heavily in the metadata they use and in the way they apply the metadata towards the various parts of their systems. A report of EHRI’s first two years on existing metadata standards found that institutions used either the archival ISAD(G) standard or the more library-oriented Dublin Core to describe their collections. Some even use the archival encoding standard EAD to exchange information between these institutions. This is the good news. The bad news is that half of the archives that responded to the survey said that they do not use archival standards at all. Among these were also some of the major archives in Holocaust research. It is unrealistic to assume that one can change the institutional approach, as this would imply a major cost for the institutions. For the portal, we were therefore looking for a new integration approach that would require the least possible effort from the partners.

Part of the work on standards was the creation of a multilingual thesaurus combing existing efforts in the domain of Holocaust research, and its subsequent transformation into a reusable linked data representation. Through the extension of the existing SKOS vocabulary, it was possible to incorporate the thesaurus terms in 11 languages, while maintaining a standard conform for the entire thesaurus. We decided to base our work on available knowledge and therefore relied on existing thesauri that were created over the years by five large and medium-sized institutions; both from within EHRI and from without. The complexity of Holocaust collections and the great importance and sensitivity of Holocaust terminology compelled us to create an agreed-on list of thesaurus entries that took into account the diversity and linguistic sensitivity. For the same reasons, the translation of terms to 10 languages was complex and required constant dialogue between the project partners and between the partners and the translators. The translations of the thesaurus keywords in the various languages resulted in a total of 13,437 entries (keyword) labels.

For the creation of the personalities authority list, it was necessary to transform the personalities spreadsheet into standard conform eac-cpf records. For that purpose, the Remix Archival Metadata Project (RAMP)(3) tool was chosen. The modelling of the Aktion Reinhard event into the Simple Event Model ontology in Figure 6 shows the richness of the original data set, and the richness of the interlinked knowledge in a reusable representation.

See Figures Final Report EHRI, Figure 6: Aktion Reinhard event

The research guides we promised in order to provide a narrative integration of sources are another example why standards were simply not enough to fulfil EHRI’s ambition.

Research Guides

The primary aim of the EHRI Research Guides was to create a comprehensive, innovative and easy to use guide on the dispersed and fragmented sources on a particular part of the Holocaust history. The research guide on Terezín (Theresienstadt), for instance, has 22,488 descriptions of archival material on the history of the ghetto. The Terezín research guide illustrates the primary raison d’être of EHRI – to connect collections spread across many archives located in different countries. The guide functions as a gateway to the Terezín archival resources and – as an increasing amount of digitised material appears online (in fact, all four major Terezín archives either have already digitised their collection or are in the process of doing so) – it will point to the respective public online catalogues.

In more than one way, the research guides have tested the challenges that EHRI as a whole needed to meet. The cataloguing standards and data collected from the four major partners with material on Terezín show significant differences. Whereas the Terezín finding aid of the Jewish Museum Prague is hierarchical and contains up to ten levels, Yad Vashem’s uses subcollections and files, Beit Theresienstadt the file level only, and Terezín Memorial works with separate items. Moreover, while Yad Vashem is a large archive with extensive staff, Beit Terezín is a very small organisation with few staff and limited archival competence. The Terezín Memorial, as a museum funded by the Czech Ministry of Culture, follows museum standards and tends to catalogue documents as individual items. The Beit Terezín archive differentiates between a collection of originals and subject-oriented files (which – in turn – often contain copies of the originals). While Yad Vashem has only catalogued the material on the file level (with files often containing hundreds of pages), other partner archives provided much more detailed information down to individual documents. Finally, the main four Terezín collections integrated in the guide contain a number of copies of items also found in the other. In summary, metadata as well as ways of capturing it differ heavily from institution to institution – even in the relatively contained case of the Terezín ghetto. EHRI analysed the provided information and created the mappings between the different sets of metadata of the partners.

See Figures Final Report EHRI, Figure 7: EHRI Terezin Research Guide

The guide is designed not only for highly professional users (such as historians), but also with a view to the needs of students, interested members of the public or family members of Terezín prisoners. Therefore, the guides are meant to be used also by people who do not know how to work with standardised archival material. Much attention, for instance, was devoted to the geography of the Terezín ghetto. EHRI created an authoritative list of locations (including GPS coordinates) inside the Ghetto (houses, barracks, crematorium, etc.), which made it possible to link documents to specific places on the current or historical map of Terezín. The guide can therefore be used by the visitors to the site of the former ghetto on their portable devices, as they walk through the town.

Furthermore, biographic information was prepared for personalities most often referred to, as well as a timeline with details about different events and periods in the history of the ghetto. This contextual information helps users formulate the query against the research guide – for instance by offering information about people, definitions of keywords or descriptions of the functions of the main departments of the Terezín ‘self-administration’. The retrieved items (files or documents) are also contextualised not only by definitions of metadata, details about places or biographies, but also by placing the document on the chronological scale and making it easy to research related events and documents from the same period.

The EHRI research guides have illustrated the possibilities and the added value of connecting archival descriptions of fragmented materials, across national borders and archival institutions. The combined data sets enable researchers a more efficient and quick access to the information and support their research, but they also confront archivists with different methodologies and help them improve the descriptions of their own materials. In addition, the guides differ from the more traditional archival guides or finding aids in that they avoid ordering information along just one authoritative narrative or path, but rather provide multiple ways and approaches to users.


Archivists and research infrastructure experts also led our work on user requirements. This strand of work explored how researchers currently find, explore, organise and analyse Holocaust-related collections in order to develop strategies of how their research workflows can be enhanced in the context of the EHRI portal work.

We began these investigations with a literature review and the compilation of an annotated bibliography. An analysis of the information thus assembled enhanced our understanding of the Holocaust studies’ research landscape, and enabled us to identify a range of stakeholders (researchers, archivists, other people) to conduct our investigations with.

The next step in our work was to gather detailed information about current research practices of Holocaust researchers. The first information gathering exercise we undertook was an online survey of Holocaust researchers that ran for eight months and elicited responses from 277 individuals. Most respondents lived in Europe, while 14% lived in the United States and 6% in Israel. The questionnaire comprised seventeen questions, which were expressed in either binary nominal (yes/no) or five-scale ordinal (Likert) scale and covered the following themes: details about respondents including demographic information, research area and discipline; resources used; activities and methods; procedures, beliefs and attitudes; tools and services used; goal and motives. This online survey resulted in detailed quantitative information about the current information seeking behaviour of Holocaust researchers, as, for instance, illustrated in Figure 6 below.

In order to deepen our understanding of some of the issues highlighted in the online survey, we conducted 7 semi-structured interviews with user-facing archivists working at EHRI partner institutions, and 15 semi-structured interviews with Holocaust researchers. Potential respondents for the researcher interviews were identified via an analysis of our annotated bibliography and via recommendations from EHRI partners. Based on this theoretical sampling of the body of those involved in research on the Holocaust, a total of 24 researchers were approached and 15 provided extended interviews. Researchers were selected to cover as wide a range of disciplines as possible, and to represent different career stages, ranging from doctoral candidates to full professors. Interviews with archivists and researchers lasted between 45 minutes to 2 hours and were digitally recorded, transcribed, encoded and analysed using Nvivo. The interviews with researchers consisted of a short introduction about EHRI and its goals, with which most participants were familiar with beforehand, followed by a set of open questions regarding both conventional and digital research methods, objects of study, and archival collections.

The interviews and surveys provided us with a range of qualitative and quantitative indicators on how to advance with our research and development work. Some of these indicators were then further developed into user stories as illustrated in Figure 7. Furthermore, all the information gathered was used to formulate 10 detailed recommendations about the data environment of the EHRI/portal VRE, and 78 end-user functional requirements organised into 4 categories (seek archives and sources of interest; gather and organise found information; community spaces).

Our findings in regard to user requirements were verified by a Research User Advisory Committee (RUAC) comprising of 20 individuals. Members of the RUAC were carefully selected in order to reflect the prospective heterogeneous user base of the EHRI work (representation across European regions; professional researchers from a variety of relevant humanities/social science disciplines as well as amateur historians; PhD students, early career and established researchers; digital novices and early adopters, etc.). The RUAC was regularly consulted to comment and feedback as the user requirements for the project were developed. Selected members of the committee finally joined a hands-on workshop to test and comment on a prototype of the EHRI portal.

See Figures Final Report EHRI, Figure 8: Attitudes towards information sharing (from EHRI Online Survey)

See Figures Final Report EHRI, Figure 9: EHRI User Story

As a result of the insights into the heterogeneous metadata landscape of EHRI as well as the work with users, we decided to approach the integration of collections into the EHRI Virtual Observatory differently than in many related projects.

Virtual Observatory

Throughout our work, we found that EHRI needed to confirm its partners’ independence rather than negate it. EHRI wanted to investigate a different path towards this challenge than is usual in other integration projects. While we remained committed towards existing standards relevant to archival information such as OAI-PMH in combination with EAD, we started to investigate a new kind of infrastructure that would allow us to focus on the content as a researcher would need it, rather than on often abstract debates about metadata standards. We sought to take the data as we found it, heterogeneous and often incomplete. It was important to us not to change the archival landscape of Holocaust research but to provide useful information for researchers.

The Virtual Observatory’s Metadata Registry stores and facilitates the retrieval of all metadata ingested into EHRI. Furthermore, it integrates the standardized thesaurus, descriptions of the archives, and authority records, i.e. every research object connected with the archives. The choice of technologies that underpin the registry allows for the integration of functionality such as annotations, virtual collections, linking of descriptions and provenance data, which are required for the VRE. Flexibility is a fundamental principle, and the Metadata Registry can store objects and relations not foreseen during the design phase of the system, thus adapt to future developments both in formats and in research objects. Furthermore, the EHRI domain contains a lot of object types, (semi-)structured according to different standards and schemas that do not necessarily map well to each other. Instead of forcing one (new) schema on to all data, the graph database allows all those different structures to co-exist.

Nearly all of the archives we wished to include in the Metadata Registry did not have the resources to publish their archival descriptions in an automated and machine-actionable format, therefore EHRI was obliged to create bespoke connectors that took the form of pre-ingest workflows for each institution’s import to the Metadata Registry. EHRI had to produce various pre-processing tools to normalise or even correct records prior to ingest, for example correcting date format and language code. Conversion pre-processing tools were created to undertake bespoke transformations, converting from the metadata formats provided to Encoded Archival Description (EAD). EHRI has imported archival description metadata from 24 sources, which included exports from archival catalogue software, indexing services, structured PDF books, and spread sheets, which were provided in 17,744 files; representing the holdings of 263 collection holding institutions.

The final section of this report is dedicated to discussing the overall technical architecture in more detail including specifications and implementations. The section will explain how EHRI has used a novel graph approach to develop a ‘virtual observatory’ for Holocaust collections.

See Figures Final Report EHRI, Figure 10: EHRI Archive Graph

Overall Technical Architecture

For Holocaust research, the sheer number of heterogeneous collections, variety of metadata and diverse archives have led in the past to either the outright rejection of a computational integration approach as too complex or the reduction of the resulting integrated information to a small number of common fields one can assume to exist across all archival databases. Both are not satisfactory for research. The first one is not satisfactory, because it neglects the essential benefit of integrating Holocaust material that is so evident from examples such as Terezín. The second one is not satisfactory, because it implies a reduction of the information available to researchers to such a low level that it is essentially useless. We need systems that can grow harmoniously with every new piece of information we can gather and not reduce the amount of processable information from the outset. We therefore looked at alternatives to existing database technologies and found graph databases, which allowed us to connect collections, thesauri, authority files, etc., as shown in Figure 10. Graph databases are based on the more flexible Euler’s graph model with nodes and edges between them and all the standard well-established means of graph processing. The model that underpins the graph database has three simple elements: nodes and their relationships as well as properties that can be given to both nodes and relationships.

See Figures Final Report EHRI, Figure 11: EHRI Architecture

The EHRI technical architecture is realized around the graph database Neo4J and broadly consists of three components: a registry, an administration interface, and a user-facing search and annotation front-end. The registry also contains a significant amount of business logic that enables EHRI’s role-based access and data management capabilities, as well as its rich annotation and entity-linking features. Placing such generic business logic within the database itself allows us to deal with the complex data management challenges in a highly efficient manner that greatly simplifies the implementation of client applications. Figure 9 summarises the architecture. It shows the architectural layers that make use of our graph databases and the other data stores we use such as a SOLR index for full-text searching.

Subgraph Serialization / Persistence
EHRI's standards-based archival metadata model is layered upon the graph database in such a way that single archival items (e.g. an archival institution or document) consists of multiple primitives (nodes, relationships, properties). A document, for example, may have many distinct descriptions, each of which may contain a set of date ranges referring to some aspect of the provenance of the material to which it refers. In an RMDBS system, the document, its descriptions, and the multiple date ranges would each reside as rows in a separate table, and be linked by foreign key references. In EHRI's graph they are represented by distinct nodes and linked by typed relationships. Managing this composite structure in such a way that multiple graph primitives can be created, updated, and deleted as a unit is a key responsibility of the registry's persistence layer.

Just as traditional database systems have the notion of cascading triggers on foreign key references, allowing child rows of one table to react to actions affecting their parent, EHRI's registry is aware of which relationships from one node to another represent a parent-child dependency. These parent-child relationships form tree structures (a sub-graph, but directed in an acyclic manner, internally named bundles) – and form the main unit on which the registry's persistence layer operates. As is common when dealing with tree structures, several of these operations are recursive in nature.

Since persistence is based around operations on generic data, domain models within EHRI's registry have a somewhat attenuated role as compared to many object-oriented systems, where the model encapsulates both its data and functionality relating to its own life-cycle (e.g. the model object creates, manages, and deletes itself.) Instead, EHRI's domain models (representing items within the archival domain, such as institutions and their material) are primarily lightweight containers for metadata. This metadata typically relates to relationships (a single document is the parent to many descriptions), and constraints (e.g. a description must have a name and a language code properties.)

One important aspect of the persistence layer is that it handles the life-cycle of domain items in an idempotent manner, a characteristic which – for our purposes – simplifies both data ingest and change auditing. As an example of this behaviour, consider a scenario where an item (represented by a data tree) is ingested into the system twice in immediate succession. Rather than creating two identical items, or creating one item and them updating it with the same data it already has, the persistence layer will compare the data in the second tree with that which it has previously stored, and - noticing that no differences would result - leave the system unchanged.

Another area where the EHRI registry adds domain-specific functionality to the underlying database layer is entity serialization, the process of putting data into an external format suitable for consumption by client applications. As with ingest, the principal unit of serialization is a recursive tree-like data structure (the bundle) with a key distinction in that outgoing bundles can also contain both non-hierarchical and cyclical relationships, meaning they form a sub-graph rather than purely a tree. These serialized sub-graphs allow the registry to provide both the domain entity itself (for example, a documentary unit item) and its context (parent items and institution to which it belongs.)

The amount and type of context provided with serialized entities are defined on the domain level and include rules designed to ensure that densely connected and mutually referential groups of graph nodes do not cause issues due to loops and runaway recursion. Serialization of context is also restricted to relationships that are naturally constrained, in that they only flow upwards through hierarchies (from child to parent, parent to grandparent, etc) and not downwards, where an unbounded number of child items could result in an unmanageable explosion in the quantity of data pulled in.

Change auditing
One of the key objectives of the EHRI registry was to maintain transparency in where the data originated from and how it is subsequently administered. This is a challenge since changes can be triggered in many ways: via a harvested update to ingested 3rd-party data; via manual data curation; and via automated enrichment processes. Maintaining clarity as to the provenance of information within the online environment was therefore of paramount importance, and doing so suggested it was necessary to tightly integrate bookkeeping and auditing mechanisms into the core of the system.

Whenever an item is created, deleted, or otherwise modified within EHRI's registry a corresponding event record is kept, connected with the user who initiated the change, the item(s) being affected, and various other pieces of environmental metadata. This event stream is modelled as a linked list, meaning that every event (a node within the graph) is connected to its temporal predecessor and successor. Traversing the event stream therefore leads from the most recent event, back in time, to the point when the EHRI registry was first created.

In addition to maintaining an event stream for the system as a whole (the global stream), the registry also maintains event streams for both users (those initiating an action) and individual items (multiple of which may be subjects of the same event in cases of batch operations.) This enables the registry itself and client services to quickly answer the questions:
• what has happened in the whole system
• what changes have individual users participated in
• what changes have individual items undergone

Since events have a natural temporal order, the linked list structure in which the registry maintains the stream puts the most up-to-date information closest to the subjects themselves, literally in terms of the number of graph traversals needed to reach it. The naturally-ordered, potentially infinite, and append-only nature of the EHRI registry event streams enable certain operations to be efficient from a data-access perspective.

Role-based access control and permissions
Another of the registry's key tasks is managing a role-based access and permission system that was designed specifically for the requirements of a collaborative, multi-institution archival system. As with the event/audition system discussed above, the access and permission controls were considered a vital and integral part of the registry's responsibilities in mediating the interaction of administrative staff from a wide range of backgrounds – along with the EHRI portal's public users – with the archival metadata content. Experience gained with off-the-shelf open source software pointed strongly to the advantages of building such responsibilities into the core of the system from the outset, rather than attempting to integrate it as an external component, with the attendant areas of poor fit that such marriages invariably entail.

Like the archival data itself, and the organizational structures of many archives, the registry's ACL/permission system is hierarchical and defined in terms of accessors, targets and scopes.

The first component of this hierarchy revolves around what is termed an accessor, which is an entity to which permissions and access rights can be granted. In practice, an accessor is one of two things:
• an individual user
• a group, to which both users and other groups can belong

Groups in the EHRI registry are effectively the same as roles within other role-based systems, but are thus named, because they can serve other purposes in aggregating a set of users than that of the permission system. Groups are intended to be able to model the structure of an organisation through which roles and responsibilities derive. As such, they can form hierarchical structures, with sub-groups inheriting the attributes of their parent groups. Thus we can model a specific archival institution in the following manner:
• The Archive
◦ Person A
◦ Archivists
▪ Person B
▪ Head Archivists
• Person C
In this case, persons A, B, and C are all members of the Archive group. Members B and C are members of the Archivists group, but only person C belongs to the Head Archivists group.

Up to this point we have discussed access control and permissions in the same terms, but EHRI's registry makes an important practical distinction between the two: access control is by default permissive, whereas permissions are by default restrictive. In other words, we assume that a given user can view a particular item unless instructed otherwise. By contrast, we assume that the same user cannot change an item unless we have been told that they can.

As with accessors, a target in the EHRI permission system is a polymorphic concept that can be one of two things:
• a content type
• an individual item
A content type is a conceptual entity that represents all items of a given class: for example, archival institutions, archival units, authority files, users, and groups. A permission with a content type target applies uniformally to all items within that class. Conversely, a permission can apply to just one item.

Scopes provide the means to limit the granting of a permission to within a particular hierarchical tree, in a manner analogous to locking a draw of a filing cabinet. While a permission with a content type target would normally apply to all items of that type, setting a scope limits it to just those items that are subordinate to the scope item.

Putting these three concepts together (accessors, targets, and scopes) we can manage a wide range of permission-related scenarios demanded by EHRI's collaborative, trans-national, cross-organisational structure. Some basic examples:

• Staff empowered to manage and curate multiple types of data that applies to a particular country. In this case the item representing the country is the permission scope, and the content types that can be suborinate to country items in EHRI's registry – archival institutions and, by extension, their archival unit metadata – the permission targets.
• Staff empowered to manage the archival unit data within a particular institution, where the institution is the scope.
• Staff empowered to manage a single archival fonds and its child items, where the fonds is the scope.

To get a full picture of the flexibility of the system we needed to introduce permission types. Permission types define granular actions, such as creating, modifying, or deleting actions. An important additional permission type is that of owning an item, which implies that items which a given accessor has created themselves can also be modified and deleted by that user. Owner permissions allow us to fulfill a common authority structure within physical archival institutions, whereby:
• a given archivist has responsibility for managing and describing material within a particular domain
• a head archivist has curation and editorial responsibilities that span domains

This scenario is enabled in the following manner:
• The archivist role (the accessor) has create permissions (the type) for archival units (the content type target) within a given archival institution (the scope). This allows individuals belonging to the archivist role to create new archival descriptions to which they will then automatically be assigned owner permission, meaning they can change (and if necessary delete) their own work, but not that of other individuals.
• The head archivist role has create, update, and delete permissions for archival units within the archival institution. This allows individuals belong to this role to have overall control to create, update, and delete descriptions, regardless of who created a given item.

The ability for the target of permissions to be individual items in addition to item classes facilitates other common authorisation scenarios, such as allowing a user affiliated with a particular archival institution permission to modify its description (but not delete it, or create new archival units.)

In addition to those aspects of the EHRI registry that related directly to the management of archival metadata, the access control and permission system is leveraged in several other ways, though using the same underlying mechanisms:

• Individual users have ownership permissions on their own profile, allowing them to update their personal information
• Annotations created by a user are private to that user by default
• Individuals belonging to a moderators role can manage the visibly (or potentially update/delete) annotations users deem publically
• Bulk data exports can be performed while filtering out restricted material

The tree-like nature of permission scopes and the ability to nest groups within other groups means that the permission system must traverse two dimensions of hierarchy to calculate whether a given user has the authority to perform a given action:
• determine and aggregate the permission grants of any groups to which they might belong
• if any of those grants are scoped to specific items, exploring whether those scope items exist within the permission scope ancestry of the subject item or content type
The ability of the graph database to traverse efficiently through these potentially unbounded heirarchies enables such complex operations to have minimal overhead, whilst remaining a generic system that is not tied to the semantics of any particular content type: the same system is used for managing all types of data within EHRI's registry, from archival metadata to user annotations.

Web service layer
The EHRI web service layer exposes the functionality of the registry via an HTTP interface, allowing interaction from clients in a manner that is programming-language agnostic. The interface to the service is based around the common Representational State Transfer (REST) pattern, using the HTTP verbs GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE to manage content that is identified by Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs).(4) The general structure of this interface adheres to the following template:

See Table 2 Web service layer, in the attached PDF Tables EHRI Final Report.

The full web service interface is detailed in the online documentation,

As described above, the EHRI registry maintains a global event log, plus temporally-ordered logs for both item-specific events and the users whose actions trigger them. The continuous, naturally-ordered and unbounded nature of these event logs makes them natural candidates for access via streaming, enabling large amounts of data to be transferred to clients in a scalable manner that does not need to rely on pagination or OAI-PMH-style resumption tokens. Such streams allow operations such as downloading the entire history of changes within the EHRI online system as a single archive. The second area in which streaming patterns are a key feature of the EHRI registry's architecture are those activities that involve accessing, exporting, or transforming large batches of data. One such activity is indexing the registry data for search indexing.

As shown in Figure 11, EHRI's Solr-based search infrastructure is decoupled from the registry for reasons of modularity and considered a secondary, expendable store. This means that it is important to quickly rebuild the search index in full in the event that it becomes desyncronized, since this time is experienced as down-time by users of the EHRI portal.

The EHRI registry enables efficient bulk export of data in item type categories as single item streams, which are then transformed and indexed in a single transactional operation, with constant memory usage regardless of the stream size. Such an approach allows us to re-index approximately 65,000 domain objects (with rich metadata) per minute.

The EHRI portal consists of two principal components: first, an interface through which researchers can explore EHRI's integrated data via free-text search and interconnected browsing; and second, a virtual research environment (VRE) where users can take notes, manage items of interest to them, and explore and connect with other researchers on the site.

EHRI's data is structured in a hierarchical manner. The top level, and intended entry-point for Holocaust research, are the countries which EHRI has detailed in its national reports. In addition to the report information, researchers can browse the archival institutions within each country that EHRI has determined contain Holocaust-related material. From each institution, researchers can (for roughly 25% of institutions at the time of writing) similarly proceed to a list of the archival descriptions held therein. Archival descriptions are similarly hierarchical, typically consisting of a top-level fonds description with a varying number of child levels.

This country/institution/document hierarchy provides an overarching logical structure to EHRI's portal but it is not the only way to navigate the site. A universal free-text search facility returns results for any types of material matching a user's query, on the basis that the country reports and repository descriptions may be just as relevant in answering a researcher's question as descriptions of archival material. If a user has a more focused idea of what they are looking for, any of the hierarchical scopes discussed above (country, institution, material) can likewise be searched, allowing cases such as search document descriptions within this institution or search child items within this fonds.

Where a specific item type is the target of a user's query, search results can be further narrowed via the application of facets to filter the data. Facets consist of coarse categories into which data can be clustered, such as language, source, and level of detail, and provide an important narrowing mechanism where a textual search query results in an overly broad set of matches.

An additional way for users to refine their search queries is by adding a field constraint, restricting matching to those where the query applies to a specific part of the target records. Fields available in the first release of the EHRI portal include the record identifier and title, as well as “access point” attributes such as persons, places, and subject keywords. Since EHRI's archival institution database functions substantially as a directory, there is also a field specialised for searching addresses.

One aspect of the close integration between searching and hierarchical browsing of country, institution, and archival metadata in the EHRI portal is that record ordering is context-dependent, requiring nuanced behaviour and the application of certain heuristics. (It was our experience that while record ordering was a significant component of the way in which individual archives organised their material – a key part of the record context - it was in many cases not explicitly encoded in structured data received by EHRI.)

Several situations were identified, in which different ordering criteria was used:
• if the user has provided a textual query we order records by relevance as determined by the search engine
• in the absence of a textual query, subordinate items (e.g. archival material belonging to a repository) are ordered by the local identifier as provided by the source institution, since this is the best proxy for their native ordering
• top-level views (e.g. all archival material) are otherwise ordered by the date of their last modification
In any situation, a user can opt to order results in a specific manner, the available options being the local identifier, title, date of last update, and the record “detail” (a proxy for the amount of textual information present).

Virtual Research Environment
One of the determinations of EHRI's user requirements investigation was that Holocaust researchers originate from diverse backgrounds and possess a correspondingly wide set of working methods. The virtual research environment (VRE) features of the EHRI portal are therefore designed to complement a user's data exploration and research practices without attempting to impose upon them a particular workflow or set of tools. The VRE features fall into two main areas:
• keeping track of relevant material
• finding and contacting other researchers

Before they can make use of the portal's VRE features a user must create an EHRI account. As described in section X we have endeavoured to make this as straightforward as possible by supporting common third-party authentication systems (such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and OpenID login) in addition to the typical “passworded” account. Every user requires a valid email address, which can be subsequently used to reset lost or forgotten passwords.

Once they have created an account a user can opt to provide a protograph and details such as their location, interests, and areas of research. These details are available to other registered EHRI users and are searchable and browsable. While a user's email address is not publically visible, an account also - by default - enables other EHRI users to be contacted via a messaging form.

The first feature intended to facilitate keeping track of relevant material in the EHRI portal is the ability for registered users to create notes on archival material. Notes can be created on both item descriptions and individual fields within a description, and are visible to that user both in context in the portal's browsing interface, and on the user's personalised notes page, where they can also be searched and exported in JSON, CSV, or plain text format. Notes are, by default, private to the user that created them and invisible to others. If a user wishes to make a note publically visible they can indicate this, either at the time of creation or later, adding it to a moderation queue. Members of EHRI's moderation group can then vote on notes submitted to publication, which require a positive score prior to becoming publically visible.

Another feature for keeping track of material is the ability to watch items by clicking the star icon that appears beside them in list views or on the item's detail page. In addition to adding the item to a searchable list that persists across browser sessions, watching also means that updates to the chosen items (such edits by administrators and the addition of public notes made by other users) will appear in the user's activity stream. The items in a user's watch-list can also be exported in the same manner as notes.

In addition to messaging those who have created an account on the EHRI portal, it is also possible to follow other users and be followed in return. Following a user (terminology derived from the Twitter service) means subscribing to their activity in the portal's personalised activity stream, adding to the timeline notices when they add material to their watch list, or create publically-visible notes.

It is intended, therefore, that the portal's personalised activity stream serves to facilitate serendipitous discovery by alerting users to the existence of material that is of interest to others. At the time of writing, we had more than 500 users registered to the VRE.

3.4 Conclusion and overview of achievements

Integrating dispersed and fragmented archives of relevance to a specialised area of research, in this case of research into the Holocaust, has the potential to stimulate new topics of enquiry and generate new research questions. EHRI has provided a platform on which researchers can integrate their research across archives and discover new material currently hidden. It can be based on existing research practices, as archival research has always been the collaboration of historical researchers with archival infrastructure providers. To this end, EHRI has created an integrated infrastructure using graph databases. With their emphasis on relationships, graph databases are particularly well suited for historical research in particular and humanities research in general. Based on the graph database approach, we could deliver the required dynamic, research-driven environment, where new material can be integrated and collaboration on content can develop.

Highlights of the EHRI achievements include
• Development of a new community dedicated to integrating Holocaust material from many dispersed archives.
• New interdisciplinary research bringing together Holocaust historians with archivists and digital humanities specialists.
• Access to archival material from over 1,800 institutions in 50 countries
• Publication of 47 national reports on the state of Holocaust research
• Creation of 3,000 new archival descriptions of Holocaust-relevant material
• Overall integration of over 150,000 archival descriptions from over 450 Holocaust archival institutions
• Creation of new standards, ontologies and thesauri to integrate Holocaust material and harmonise activities across the relevant archives.
• 42 fellowships and visits by junior scholars to Holocaust institutions
• Dedicated research guides for thematic integration of Holocaust material providing access to Holocaust research also for non-expert users
• Unprecedented survey of the needs of Holocaust researchers from over 270 respondents.
• Systematic mappings of the state of Holocaust archives and development of connectors to integrate their material into the EHRI portal
• Novel graph-based approach to integrating heterogeneous Holocaust material
• Interactive trans-national Virtual Research Environment with currently over 500 registered users.

(1) Tobias Blanke and Conny Kristel, ‘Integrating Holocaust Research’, International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing 7.1-2 (2013)
(4) In practice, EHRIs resource identifiers are Internationalised Resource Identifiers (IRIs) because they can contain more than just US-ASCII characters.

Potential Impact:
4. The potential impact

The ambition of the EHRI project has been to create a novel, inclusive and sustainable world-class Holocaust Research Infrastructure of European dimension that will last well beyond the project. EHRI offers the research community, as well as other interested parties from the wider public, the opportunity to study the Holocaust as a key topic of contemporary history on a trans-national, truly European scale. The integrated infrastructure of key Holocaust collections built by EHRI will be further developed and expanded in a sustainable way by a worldwide community of users in the context of the Horizon 2020 funded continuation project of EHRI (2015-2019). EHRI will thus continue to act as a catalyst for innovation and collaboration, and will foster knowledge growth around this key part of European history, which is indispensable for the development of the European Research Area (ERA) and its research disciplines as a whole.

4.1 Scientific impact

EHRI has developed a unique trans-national Holocaust Research Infrastructure of European dimension. At the heart of the scientific innovations of EHRI lies the will of the existing research community to adopt new means of collaboration and integration in the digital age. EHRI has become a community project of existing Holocaust research, directly involving a core group of key stakeholders - historians, archivists and digital humanists - from all European regions. EHRI has consistently reached out to its stakeholders by for instance inviting them to participate in the selection of archives, investigation of user requirements, methodological workshops, testing, training, trans-national access activities and user validation. Stakeholders have thus been actively stimulated to commit themselves to EHRI, and the immediate scientific impact of EHRI has been the creation of services around a community that has embraced the EHRI infrastructure as ‘its’ platform, and that is committed to its use and further development.

The successful conceptualisation, development and launch of the EHRI infrastructure has so far realised significant scientific impacts in the following areas:

* Simplified access to, and usage of, key Holocaust infrastructures, archives and collections for researchers across the globe

EHRI’s trans-national fellowship programme has enabled 42 researchers from 12 countries access to the state-of-the-art research facilities located at 5 EHRI partner institutions. Furthermore, the 4 EHRI Summer Schools and 9 methodological workshops have enabled approx. 400 individuals to access the expertise that is available at leading Holocaust research and archival institutions including Yad Vashem (Israel), NIOD Institute for War Holocaust and Genocide Studies (Netherlands), Institute für Zeitgeschichte (Germany), Mémorial de la Shoah (France) and Jewish Museum Prague (Czech Republic). EHRI has particularly endeavoured to increase trans-national access to leading Holocaust infrastructures to researchers from Eastern and South-eastern Europe as infrastructural support for Holocaust research is currently limited in these regions. For example, more than a third of all EHRI Fellows and more than half of the EHRI Summer School Trainees were from Central-Eastern and Eastern Europe.

In addition to simplifying physical access, EHRI has considerably increased virtual access to Holocaust-related research infrastructures. The EHRI Online Portal contains information on more than 1,800 Holocaust-relevant archival institutions, and in excess of 150,000 descriptions of archival materials. Notably, more than 3,000 Holocaust-related collections that are integrated in the EHRI portal were previously “hidden” from researchers, either because these collections were never described before, or information was only available offline and in formats and at levels of granularity that made access difficult and the identification of the collection as Holocaust-relevant impossible. The information about such “hidden” collections contained in the EHRI portal ensures that they can, for the first time, be fully exploited for the purposes of Holocaust research.

Launched on 26 March 2015, the EHRI Online Portal already features more than 500 registered users(1), and since its launch is accessed by an average of more than 170 unique visitors a day. The EHRI Online Portal can be freely used by anyone with an interest in Holocaust research and currently attracts visitors located in more than 100 countries from a wide variety of backgrounds (professional historians; other professional humanities and social science researchers; archivists; NGOs; media, genealogists, family and local historians, etc.). By bringing together an unsurpassed amount of information about Holocaust archival resources across Europe and beyond, and by making this information available to a substantial and growing research community, the EHRI Online Portal makes a very significant contribution to opening up, and increasing access to, Holocaust-related archives worldwide.

An important activity to further the EHRI overall objective to simplify access was the International Conference on Holocaust Documentation in Eastern Europe, which EHRI organised. The conference took place in Kraków and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Memorial and Museum, Poland, from May 19 – May 21, 2014. Some 70 directors of archives and collections, museum directors, researchers and key people of the EHRI-project actively participated in the conference. The meeting aimed to comprehensively map the unrecognized and non-accessible sources relating to the history of the Holocaust in Poland and the former Soviet-Union, as well as to familiarize researchers with these collections. One of the sessions was dedicated specifically to access-related issues. Participants were chief archivists and presidents and directors of leading institutions in Eastern Europe, which hold large quantities of relevant material stored in archives networks or single archives. By bringing together people who deal with Holocaust documentation in Eastern Europe the conference stimulated a dialogue between the researchers and the archival administrators.

* Enabling of new trans-national and comparative research on the Holocaust

By integrating Holocaust-relevant resources and expertise from across Europe and beyond, and enhancing both physical and virtual access to the integrated infrastructure, EHRI has already during its lifetime contributed towards enhancing Holocaust historiography. The EHRI fellowship programme has facilitated the movement of researchers across Europe, and has enabled key researchers to gain access to the resources and expertise they need to further their research objectives. The programme has thereby facilitated a wide variety of doctoral and post-doctoral research projects including an investigation into the everyday life in ghettos in Northern Transylvania, a comparative analysis of anti-Jewish measures in France and Hungary, and an exploration of the Holocaust and the “subject” of art. Likewise, the EHRI Summer Schools and Online Training Course have helped a new generation of researchers to acquire the methodological and subject knowledge they need to participate in scholarly discourse and the generation of new historical knowledge.

Participants in the fellowship programme and the summer school have evaluated both initiatives extremely positively. To give but one example, an MA student from the Netherlands who attended the Summer School at the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Munich, summarised his experience as follows: “The EHRI Summer School was one of the best experiences of my life (no joke). … I learned so much from all the lectures and the interaction with the lecturers and the other participants. … The Summer School also gave me the opportunity to present the work in progress of my MA thesis and receive comments from the other participants. In sum, it was amazing.”

Due to the widespread dispersal and fragmentation of archival sources, researching the Holocaust from a truly European perspective has hitherto been very difficult. By bringing together information on dispersed and fragmented sources, the EHRI Online Portal greatly alleviates this situation. As usage of the portal is already very considerable after one month of operation, and as it will be maintained and extended over the next four years, we are confident that it will become an indispensable tool for anyone who wishes to undertake trans-national and comparative research on the Holocaust, and that it will significantly contribute to substantive new research results over the coming years.

* Knowledge transfer between Holocaust research infrastructures and standardisation of their resources

The EHRI consortium, and the extended EHRI network of associate partners, encompasses the most advanced Holocaust research infrastructures as well as a host of smaller research and archival institutions particularly in Eastern Europe. Such EHRI associated institutions range from large national archives and well-connected Holocaust research, documentation and memory centres; via regional and local archives; to very small private and charitable initiatives. Such institutions are, moreover, situated in regions with diverging levels of investment into research, archives and museums. Given this heterogeneous landscape, it is unsurprising that institutional capacity in terms of organisation, finances, technology and expertise is also very unevenly spread, and this, in turn, has led to differing levels of preparedness for further integration of infrastructures.

Throughout the project, we have endeavoured to increase capacity where it is most needed by means of knowledge transfer and by disseminating information about best practices in fields such as physical and digital preservation of archival material and application of relevant international archival and technological standards. We used a variety of methods to facilitate knowledge transfer including organisation of workshops, dissemination of reports and expert newsletters, and the provision of direct support by EHRI domain experts. Such efforts have borne fruit and have resulted in a heightened awareness among Holocaust-related infrastructures about the desirability of harmonisation and standardisation to achieve optimal exploitation of their resources for scholarly research. For instance, the Kazerne Dossin Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre on Holocaust and Human Rights, Belgium adopted a fully standard-compliant approach to archival description, following EHRI’s advice and support in the implementation of a new archival information management system.

* Incubation of new research through the development of a community of researchers committed to openness, sharing and disciplinary cross-fertilisation

EHRI is grounded upon close collaboration and interaction between an expanding community of scholars and researchers who are active in and around a large number of infrastructures. This interaction has stimulated cross-disciplinary fertilisation, and a wider sharing of knowledge, research capacities and technologies across disciplinary fields as well as between academia and societal institutions such as memory institutions, museums etc. In particular, EHRI has acted as an incubator of new research projects between consortium partners and members of the wider EHRI network. We have, for instance, set up a digitisation project for Jewish Council collections held in seven countries in Europe, including Israel. Also, EHRI experts have become involved in a project developing a digital archive for the Rwanda genocide.

* Best practice model for humanities research infrastructures

EHRI has established itself as a best practice model for the development of humanities research infrastructures. Indeed, during the final Presentation of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (Berlin, March 2015), Günter Stock, President of the All European Academies and the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaft, has depicted EHRI as a “shining example” of a successful European research infrastructure project. He noted that EHRI has successfully managed to cross both national and disciplinary boundaries, thereby providing an excellent exemplar of how large-scale international initiatives can further the humanities and social science research agenda in the 21st century.

Throughout the project, we have ensured that relevant EHRI successes and achievements can be adopted and exploited in other domains whose needs are similar to Holocaust research. We have extensively and successfully collaborated with the ESFRI infrastructure DARIAH that supports trans-national research in all arts and humanities disciplines and related social sciences. Two directors of DARIAH are also members of EHRI’s Executive Team, and EHRI solutions to problems such as integration of heterogeneous metadata or provision of an appropriate AA infrastructure for a highly distributed and varied user base have informed the development of the DARIAH infrastructure. Furthermore, we have disseminated details about our S&T results to a variety of related infrastructure projects and initiatives including DASISH, Cendari, Judaica Europeana, Israel Archives Network Project, International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and the Yerusha project. Through such close collaboration and widespread dissemination, EHRI has become a showcase project with considerable influence into the development of Humanities e-Science, and with significant impact far beyond the Holocaust research community.

* Contribution to evidence-based policy making in Holocaust infrastructure development

In the first phase of the project EHRI experts have influenced developments within, and policies regarding the, International Tracing Service (ITS). Moreover, they have contributed to the further development of expertise and the development of policies with regard to Holocaust research and access to Holocaust-related collections, such as is done for instance by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ( EHRI is committed to continue to contribute to decision- and policy-making, for instance by organising a workshop to evaluate opportunities and obstacles for the ITS to become a digital research space.

4.2 Market and economic impact

While the scientific impact of EHRI is clear, discussing market impact from Holocaust research is difficult. On the one hand, keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive is a social and cultural necessity sui generis. On the other hand, the idea of a ‘Holocaust industry’ is often invoked by Holocaust relativists and negationists as an argument against continued remembrance. We will therefore avoid discussing directly the market impact EHRI had on the development of Holocaust archives and memory institutions here. It suffices to say that EHRI's impact on these institutions and the support we can offer them, especially in difficult political and economic circumstances, has become clear throughout the project.

And yet, EHRI has had significant impact on archives and memory institutions beyond the narrower field of the Holocaust. We have generated significant interest from companies in the data management sector, as well as from those working specifically on archival information systems. Recently we have held a high-level meeting with the British Museum to discuss the transferability of our data integration approach based on graph database technology to the Museum’s own use case. We have discussed the use of graph databases for the national archival integration project in Israel, and, as already mentioned above, provided advice on archival information management systems to various smaller institutions such as Kazerne Dossin in Belgium.

Some of our technology solutions are highly innovative and experimental – especially in the domain of big data and NoSQL technologies. We have begun to use graph databases before they have become widespread through fast growing social media companies. We have developed a novel use case on data integration using graph databases, and we are working with the major graph database vendor, Neo4J, to distribute our use case and its benefits. However, as an early adopter, we have not been able to rely on an extended range of tools and services that facilitate use of graph databases. While the technological ecosystem for graph databases is undoubtedly less mature than that for traditional relational databases, their intuitive modelling capabilities, as well as their ability to fluently evolve in structure to meet the needs of the data we integrate, have provided us with very tangible advantages. We have addressed the risk of using less mature technology by working closely with Neo4J and its community. We are in contact with its headquarters and in particular its Chief Scientist, Jim Webber, and have presented at their event around Linked Data in Amsterdam 2013 and contribute our tools to their code base.

More generally, “big data” has been identified by various European governments and the EU as a key economic driver in the next decade. It is beyond doubt that the humanities and specifically their unique ways of understanding information will play a crucial role in the development of economic and social value from big data technologies. Archives and other memory institutions will become increasingly important in this context, with various studies showing that it will be the holders of data that should benefit most by the turn to big data.(2) And yet, for archives to realise such benefits, it is essential that they fully understand their roles and responsibilities in a big data environment. EHRI has already helped to improve the position of archives and other key members of the cultural industries, by helping them to publish their data according to open web standards, and by having engaged a range of stakeholders to highlight the importance of archival knowledge for big data applications.

4.3 Wider social implications

Easier to articulate than economic impact is the societal impact of EHRI, as its research topic is deeply rooted in the development of European societies. This was emphasised during the very successful Public History of the Holocaust conference, which we organised in Berlin in 2013 with funding coming directly from the German Ministry of Research and Education.(3) In her speech, the German Minister of Research and Education, Dr Johanna Wanka, stressed the importance of trans-national infrastructures for the future of Holocaust research, education and remembrance, while another high-level participant - Robert-Jan Smits, Director-General of DG Research and Innovation of the European Commission - has recently highlighted the social, political and cultural importance of EHRI's mission to provide all Europeans with access to knowledge about the Holocaust.(4) The considerable societal benefits of EHRI were also highlighted at our final event the Presentation of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (Berlin, March 2015) that was attended by three European State Secretaries: Sander Dekker (State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science, the Netherlands), Cornelia Quennet-Thielen (State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany), Marek Ratajczak (Secretary of State at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Poland).(5) The state secretaries were unanimous in their support for EHRI, not least because of their shared conviction that enhancing public access to Holocaust resources and research possesses inherent societal value in and of itself.

EHRI has fostered a continuous dialogue between scholarly and technological communities and society at large. We have consistently reached out to non-academic audiences, and have involved members of the general public in many of our activities. For instance, we have involved non-professional researchers in the formulation of user requirements for the EHRI infrastructure, had representatives from NGOs and the general public present at most of our workshops and events, and have throughout the project answered dozens of queries and requests from the interested public about our mission, activities, and results. Crucially, all of EHRI’s substantive outputs – most notably the EHRI Online Portal, the EHRI Online Course in Holocaust Studies, the EHRI Research Guides – can be freely accessed by anyone with an interest in the Holocaust, and all these resources have already attracted very considerable interest from non-academic communities.

All this goes to show that open online access to reliable and properly contextualised Holocaust material is of undeniable importance to communities well beyond the boundaries of academia. A number of highly important values and societal discussions are influenced through EHRI, such as debates on the prevention and explanation of discrimination, the nature of citizenship and the development of shared values on inclusion of groups distinguished by religious, ethnic or national allegiances.

In 2005, historian Tony Judt cogently argued that we can only resort to history to keep remembering why it was judged so important to build a new Europe ‘out of the crematoria of Auschwitz’. The ‘vital link’ between Europe’s past and Europe’s present must be taught over and over again.(6) To write and re-write the history of the Holocaust is a moral obligation, which has a lasting impact on how we build and rebuild our societies today and in the future. EHRI facilitates the study and teaching of the Holocaust, and keeps the memory of this most traumatic event in European history alive. EHRI makes a significant contribution to making new generations of Europeans aware of what happened in the past, thereby helping them to shape our shared present and future.

And no less important, EHRI creates indispensable weapons in the battle against Holocaust denial, the permanent reoccurrence of which indicates that the Holocaust will probably never be a thing of the past but always at the heart of society. Holocaust deniers continue to (mis-)use the Internet for the dissemination of their ideas. Integrated online availability of, and access to, properly contextualised Holocaust material strengthens the battle against Holocaust denial by delivering the latest research to the homes of European citizens.

4.4 Main dissemination activities and exploitation of results

Dissemination has been an integral part of EHRI's ambition. Connecting Holocaust archives and Holocaust researchers is first and foremost relevant for (academic) researchers, but not exclusively, as the significant public interest in our activities demonstrates. Our dissemination measures have therefore been aimed at a very broad range of stakeholder, as analysed in Table 1 below.

See Table 1: EHRI Stakeholders in the attached PDF Tables EHRI Final Report

Across the project we have implemented a multi-platform dissemination strategy that has ensured that all stakeholders have received material that are tailored towards their needs. Each of the EHRI partners has brought its own network of contacts to our dissemination programme which has enabled us to reach all relevant communities across Europe and beyond.
Table 2 below provides a summary of our main dissemination activities, while further details can also be found in section 4.2 “Use and dissemination of foreground” of this report.

See Table 2: Main dissemination measures in the attached PDF Tables EHRI Final Report

An important communication and dissemination instrument has been the EHRI Project Website ( that has been online since the beginning of the project, and has been continuously enhanced with up-to-date information about the project, its results and context. It has also been employed to disseminate announcements for forthcoming events and access opportunities. The website has been widely used attracting, for instance, 4,669 visitors in the last month of the project (March 2015). Since October 2013 EHRI has also operated its own Twitter account (@EHRIroject) to maximise its dissemination reach and its 600+ tweets have since attracted a core audience of 492 followers.

In addition, we have established a contact database, which has steadily grown over the course of the project and now includes contact details of 1,500 individuals that represent all the communities with which EHRI engages. This database has been widely used for the distribution of newsletters and for announcements of workshops, conferences, as well as access and training opportunities. It has been a crucial tool that has helped to ensure that all EHRI events have attracted significant audiences from relevant stakeholder groups

We have been very active in dissemination the research results via major conferences and academic publications. We have successfully targeted publications outlets across the three disciplinary areas with which EHRI engages: Holocaust studies; archival science; e-Science/digital humanities.

Finally, EHRI has been very successful in attracting the attention of the media and the wider public. Press releases were issued on six occasions that marked crucial project milestones (for instance prior to the launch of the project; during the Public History of the Holocaust Conference; and alongside the Final Presentation of the EHRI Infrastructure). These press releases have resulted in significant media coverage. For instance, the launch of the project was reported in Israeli, Dutch, German, Czech and French media outlets, while we have been able to identify 17 reports of our final event across different media (television, radio, press).

1) It should be noted that registration on the EHRI portal is free to anyone but not mandatory, meaning that the total user base of the portal far exceeds the 500+ registered users.
(2) Viktor Mayer-Schönberger,Kenneth Cukier: Big data: A revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
(6) Tony Judt, Postwar. A History of Europe Since 1945 (New York 2005) 830-831.

List of Websites:
NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies is the co-ordinating institution of EHRI. NIOD can be contacted as follows:
NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Herengracht 380
1016 CJ Amsterdam
+31 (0)20-523 38 00

Dr Conny Kristel, NIOD Amsterdam, is the co-ordinator of EHRI. She can be contacted as follows:
Dr Conny Kristel
NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Herengracht 380
1016 CJ Amsterdam
+31 (0)20-5233840

More information about EHRI and access to its main research outcomes can be accessed online as follows:
• EHRI project website:
• EHRI Portal:
• EHRI Online Course in Holocaust Studies: