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European Holocaust Research Infrastructure Preparatory Phase

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EHRI-PP (European Holocaust Research Infrastructure Preparatory Phase)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2021-05-31

The European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) supports the field of Holocaust research. Much like EHRI-1 (2010-2015), EHRI-2 (2015-2019) and the on-going EHRI-3 (2020-2024) projects, the EHRI-Preparatory Phase (EHRI-PP) project is committed to facilitating Holocaust research by providing an integrated trans-national layer across various national Holocaust archives and institutions. EHRI-PP’s particular aim is to create a permanent European Holocaust Research Infrastructure, prospectively in the form of a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC).

Since its inception in 2010, EHRI has developed integrated access services to dispersed Holocaust archives and expertise, digital methods and tools to accelerate the digital transformation of Holocaust research and archives, as well as training programs to upskill the next generation of practitioners. EHRI has continuously expanded the number of archives and institutions affiliated to the project.

EHRI has always followed a social mission in addition to its scholarly mission: The number of Holocaust survivors is dwindling. Without the testimony of survivors, Holocaust documentation, research and remembrance becomes even more important. Holocaust denial and Holocaust distortion remain part of today’s society. By creating a permanent, trans-national path to Holocaust information, and making that information accessible to everyone with an Internet connection, the EHRI-PP project will ensure that the memory and legacy of the Holocaust will not be forgotten.

EHRI-PP’s overall aim is to advance EHRI’s legal, financial, strategic and technical maturity to the point that it can be implemented as a permanent European Research Infrastructure (RI), shortly after the end of the project.
Establishing SAB and BGR
To assist with project governance, we established a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and the Board of Governmental Representatives (BGR). The SAB consists of representatives from various fields (Holocaust research, archival sciences, digital humanities and humanities research infrastructures) and it provides independent scientific and strategic advice, while ensuring quality by providing feedback on key outputs. The BGR incorporates representatives from ministries and other national funding bodies from eight countries that have shown a serious interest of becoming founding members of the permanent EHRI RI. During EHRI-PP the BGR will ensure that key legal, financial and strategic documents produced by the project are aligned with national priorities. Towards the end of EHRI-PP, the BGR will transform itself from a project advisory body in the interim General Assembly of the permanent EHRI RI.

Selection of Host Country and Legal Framework
Achieving consensus in the consortium on two key questions - the most appropriate legal framework for the long-term RI and the location of its Central Hub - was a key objective of the first reporting period. This was achieved during the second EHRI-PP GPM in September 2020, when the consortium partners and the SAB unanimously selected the Netherlands as the prospective hosting country of the central hub of the permanent EHRI RI, and the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) as the most suitable legal framework.

Governance Structure
Different governance options for the future EHRI-ERIC have been analyzed and various potential configurations of governance and management bodies, forms of participation and decision-making processes have been identified and discussed in the consortium. In the second period, the governance structure will be finalized in close consultation with the BGR, resulting in the codification of governance in the statutes of the future EHRI-ERIC.

Financial planning
A preliminary cost book, budget for the Central Hub, and a typology of in-kind contributions have been drafted. At the same time, we have established a high-level funding model for EHRI-ERIC, produced an overview of potential funding sources, and explored different models to calculate annual membership fees of participating countries.

EHRI-PP has successfully reached out to national stakeholders to further EHRI’s long-term sustainability. To facilitate such outreach, EHRI national coordinators have been appointed in twelve countries. These national coordinators are leading discussions with scientific stakeholders to establish EHRI national nodes in their respective countries, and with political stakeholders to secure political and financial support for EHRI-ERIC.

Access, research and technological strategies
In-depth surveys have been conducted to:
- analyze user needs for EHRI services;
- outline relevant long-term research and research-supporting trends that impact EHRI’s development;
- gather feedback on how EHRI’s digital services are being used, what the requirements of partner institutions for an integrated technical infrastructure are, and how development resources can best be
allocated in preparation for the ERIC

The outcomes of these survey activities are currently being condensed into long-term strategies and policies with regards to research and innovation, users and access, technological development and data management. These strategies will ultimately ensure that EHRI-ERIC will provide state-of-the-art services that meet the current and future requirements of its expanding user communities.

Dissemination & Communication
A strategy on how to best use dissemination and communication to reach all stakeholders was created early in the project. Implementation of this strategy has proceeded well and resulted in a significant increase in EHRI’s audience. During the first reporting period, EHRI published seven newsletters, contributed to 22 external events, significantly increased usage of its website, and established a committed and growing following on social media.

The results of all EHRI-PP work packages are continuously being integrated into the evolving EHRI business plan. Continuous integration ensures that results are well aligned and meet the requirements, and that potential gaps are spotted early on. The form and structure of the EHRI business plan is based on extensive desktop research of the business plans of other relevant research infrastructures and equally caters to the requirements of an ERIC application which will be submitted soon after the end of EHRI-PP.
EHRI-PP is on course to have completed all necessary preparation to establish EHRI as a permanent research infrastructure by the end of the project. A proposal to establish EHRI as an ERIC will be submitted to the European Commission in early 2023, shortly after the EHRI-PP project ends. We are on course that this application will be supported by at least 6 countries. The aim is to launch EHRI as a fully operational permanent research infrastructure by 27 January 2025, the 80th-anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. This will guarantee that the Holocaust research community has access to a state-of-the-art research infrastructure that enables cutting-edge trans-national Holocaust research for generations to come. Equally important, this permanent infrastructure will provide vital impulses for the future of Holocaust education and memorialization, thereby ensuring that the lessons and legacy of the crime will continue to make a positive contribution to the future development of stable, inclusive and plural European societies.
Tweet EHRI's 10th Anniversary 2020
EHRI Conference Amsterdam 2019
Illustration from EHRI Position Paper 2021
Illustration from EHRI WP9 Workshop 2021
Presentation BGR Meeting Zoom 2021
Presentation Kick-Off Munich 2020
Presentation BGR Meeting Zoom 2021
Consortium Kick-Off Munich 2020
Tweet Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021